Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Earth Charter is subject of library exhibit

Keynote speaker Steven Wisman talks with a student during the exhibit opening at Linderman Library Monday evening.

At the end of last semester, the Lehigh University-United Nations Partnership set several goals, two of which were to collaborate with other organizations that shared its status as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) and to host events on campus with an environmental focus.

Two weeks later, both goals came together in a single phone call from Mary Mack, a member of the Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai International USA (SGI).

Mack contacted the LU-UN Partnership about whether Lehigh would host an exhibit of 16 brightly colored panels called the “Seeds of Change: The Earth Charter and Human Potential.” The exhibit is now on display in Fairchild-Martindale and Linderman Libraries through Friday, Oct. 10.

It opened Monday with a reception that included remarks by Mack and Rick Weisman, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of Lehigh’s Engineers Without Borders. Steven Wisman, director of operations of the Millennium Villages Project, Millennium Promise, gave the keynote address.

"A people's charter"

A student examines part of the Seeds of Change exhibit in Fairchild-Martindale Library.

First unfurled in Johannesburg, South Africa during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, the Seeds of Change exhibit educates readers about sustainable development, the role of education and the Earth Charter Initiative.

The initial draft of the Earth Charter was created in 1992 for the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and a final version was approved in 2000 at the United Nation’s Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization Headquarters in Paris. Since then, the Earth Charter has become a globally recognized statement on ethics and values necessary for a sustainable future.

“I feel that the Earth Charter is a very important people’s charter,” Mack said. “Knowing that there are a lot of people here concerned about the environment, the Seeds of Change exhibit made sense.”

The Earth Charter Initiative worked with SGI to create the Seeds of Change exhibit. Unlike many exhibits, SGI’s panels attempt to show solutions as well as the issues, said Hiro Sakurai. Sakurai helped design the concept for the film, A Quiet Revolution, which was shown after the formal part of the opening ceremony Monday.

As the liaison between SGI and the UN, Sakurai seeks to work with like-minded NGOs to promote peace, human rights and sustainable living.

“As one NGO, the voice is small, but if we get together as a group, we can raise our voices,” Sakurai said.

--Becky Straw

Photos by Douglas Benedict

Posted on Thursday, October 09, 2008

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