Cross-border partnership with leading institutional partners is essential for sharing knowledge, skills and resources for overall betterment.

Anusmita Bhattacharya
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By Ina Stašević from Croatia/Europe: If we want to influence and change the world, it is important to collaborate with universities on a global level. University partnerships are very important to us considering the increasing complexity of global problems. Cross-border partnership with leading institutional partners who share our values is essential to share knowledge, skills and resources for overall betterment.

People-to-people exchange encourages and creates better understanding and develops partnerships with renowned foreign educational institutions. I can best express this from my own experience. I studied Indian, Chinese, Islamic culture and history, completely amazed but didn't understand much until I went there for education. After several months of training in India and China, I understand better what one, the other and the third think. It is completely different when you experience what you are interested in. That experience purified my thoughts, developed a global personality, completely transformed me.

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In an exclusive interview, I speak with Dr. sc. Zvonimir Stopić, associate professor at Capital Normal University (China), assistant director of the Institute of Global and Area Studies (IGAS) in Beijing, lecturer at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management and researcher at the Institute for Croatian Asia (CroAsia). After completing his studies in history and philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, he obtained his doctorate at Capital Normal University.  We are discussing international cooperation as a possible solution to global challenges.

1. Humanity is seriously at another historical crossroads. We don't have many options, we have to choose between unity and division, between opening and closing, between cooperation and conflict. Since the interests of humanity are at stake, how to overcome this trend? Is globalization the only option?

In its history, humanity has progressed from a primitive society to the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, and now the information revolution. Although this process has seen a steep increase in productivity, one fundamental reality has remained unchanged for now: Earth is our one and only home. All countries bear responsibility for the safety of this planet and the future of humanity. If the pursuit of power and profit escalates to fierce competition or even armed conflict, self-destruction is posited as a possible outcome.

Having experienced destruction, wars and conflicts, especially the two world wars, people around the world have built a sharper awareness of cultivating peace, expanding cooperation and seeking common development. However, much work remains to push this awareness forward and become an integral part of any political, economic or social process. 

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As information technology advances every day, most notably in the areas of the Internet, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence, human exchanges have become deeper, broader, and more extensive than ever before, while states have become more interconnected and interdependent than at any time in the past. Globalization is not just an option - it is a reality, a way of life and a path to a more peaceful and secure future. It is undeniable that the "global village" is getting smaller - traveling to once unreachable parts of the world is now easy and is part of the domain of tourism, while just a few taps on the mobile phone connect us with people from all over the world in a fraction of a second. We certainly already live in an integrated world. However, this openness brings challenges, as the last two decades have shown, which is why they should be tackled constructively as soon as possible.

2. What should the global community look like in your opinion?

In an ideal sense, the global community should look like a democratic forum in which the diversity of its members serves the desire for a common global betterment. Again, ideally, everyone should participate in the formation of international rules, global affairs should be managed by everyone, and then the fruits of development should be shared by everyone. However, we do not live in an ideal world, while reality is made up of many different factors, interests and events that can often neither be controlled nor predicted. Ideals aside, the international community is still an "anarchic" system. Above the (national) states, which are regulated by constitutions and laws and within which there is a clear structure of government, there is no perfectly clearly regulated or defined "hierarchical" system of relations, rules, behavior and actions that is in the full sense "superior" to individual states. On the contrary, the interests of individual states always have priority over the global interest, while the full implementation of these interests is primarily limited by the interests of others, i.e. the projection of power (or the possibility of projection of power) of other states. Of course, the system that naturally develops from this is as it is in force today – a system based on forces of different orders of magnitude, where greater power (number of people, economy, army, internal functionality) always brings the possibility of greater freedom of action. This system is not fixed, but variable, and its stability depends on a multitude of global factors.

Today, we live in a time when we are witnessing a historically new process. Although "Europe" or "the West" had their rivals in the past, only in this historically incomparably new technological and social context is it happening for the first time that the West is gaining serious competition on a global level. This is not only about China, which is certainly ahead of the rest, but also about many other countries such as India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Brazil and many others, i.e. countries that are on the way to reach the development level of the European Union countries. These countries, of course, are not and will not develop to be "Western" countries in the sense in which they are, for example, the countries of the European Union. "Different" historical legacies, languages, traditions, cultures, social and political currents, regional context, etc., outline a different specific view of oneself and the world, thus directing the course of future different development. However, in the future, many of these states will no longer have to play a secondary or even less important role in international relations, but will impose their own interests and propose their own solutions to global problems, which could lead to a certain dispersion or redistribution of power, and perhaps even us and bring one step closer to the ideal model described above. However, it should be kept in mind that this is a complex process that will last for decades, the outcome of which is not at all clear.

3. Do we have leaders today who have a sense of responsibility and the will to act?


Building an international system that could be the basis for facing common global challenges should be the aspiration of all countries. The United Nations and existing international law, in the long term, are a good "start". It could be said, which is nothing new, that every country and their leaders should work on developing continuous awareness to face common global problems. The point is to act more, function less as an observer, however this is not always easy or possible. What can certainly be done, which is a prelude to finding valid solutions for achieving peace, encouraging development, achieving a better sense of security, and environmental challenges, is strengthening dialogue and the required consensus.

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