This year’s UNIV encourages participants to investigate the all-important yet much neglected topic of friendship. Over the last forty years the number of friends that grown men in the United States say that they have has dwindled from an average of between five and ten all the way down to one. They also report feeling a deep loss. When looking at the data on a macro-level, multiple studies report a declining sense of friendship and community in neighborhoods, cities, the nation, and the international order, again with an accompanying sense of loss. An opportunity exists for the participants in UNIV 2015. While many disciplines and studies lament a lack of friendship on a personal and social level, few scholars are willing to devote the time and study necessary to develop positive proposals to address the reality. And so, in UNIV 2015, we are going to address what is perhaps one of the biggest lacuna of our time.
The concept of friendship offers the possibility for deep and interdisciplinary studies. One the level of anthropology and ethics, studies can confront the challenges of establishing friendship first within the self, that is to say, creating the conditions within the person such that the passions, the will and the intellect can relate harmoniously with each other, establishing the freedom necessary to forge into the deep of making true and lasting friendship with others. Then, studies may branch out into the realms of psychology, sociology, economics, the media and politics, investigating the difficulties in establishing the conditions for friendship on these various levels of moral reality, as well as offering theoretical and practical observations and solutions as to what might be done to create better conditions for friendship in these domains.
When one looks to the intellectual environment, one can also see the implications pointing towards a need for friendship in modern movements of architecture, business, engineering, science, and medicine. These disciplines, sometimes explicitly, often implicitly, seek to make societal conditions possible for healthy friendships. Some of these disciplines, such as the business mentality when it deteriorates to be solely driven by avarice, or the scientific mentality that could degenerate into an ideology, present difficulties that need to be overcome if societies once again hope to establish sound conditions for friendships.
As we move to the national and international order, studies could investigate the challenges in drawing from what we know about friendship in order to cultivate concord and peace on the national and international levels, the signs of true friendship. Some would like to characterize the modern international community as a unipolar world, in which one nation should ensure that no competitors emerge. Others would like to see a multipolar world in which great and small nations work together to establish a just peace, with a view to dialogue as the basis for friendship between nations.
The Theme of the 48º Annual International University UNIV Forum is:
Friendship: model for a new citizenship.
Rome, March 29–April 5, 2015
For more information please visit www.univforum.org