Director of Social Innovation to Serve on UNESCO Steering Committee

The University of Arkansas’ director of social innovation has been invited to serve on an Advisory Steering Committee of UNESCO.

Rogelio Garcia Contreras is one of eight scholars from around the world selected to analyze the global impact and challenges of the peace agenda since the inception of the United Nations in 1945. The committee holds its first meeting in Barcelona, Spain, this month.

The scholars will work with other experts from a variety of disciplines to reflect on the United Nations promotion and protection of human rights and development and publish their assessment in a Declaration and Plan of Action on a Culture of Peace.

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is charged with contributing to international peace by promoting intellectual and moral solidarity through educational, scientific and cultural reform.

David Fernandez, UNESCO project coordinator, and Carmen Parra, chair of the Social and Solidarity Economy Program of Universitat Abat Oliba in Barcelona, nominated Garcia.

“It is an honor to learn that the humble efforts we have made to contribute to the development of underserved communities have captured the interest and imagination of an organization like UNESCO,” Garcia said.

Garcia came to the university in January 2016 from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, where he founded their social entrepreneurship program. Regarding the steering committee Garcia said, “We represent the thousands, if not millions of people around the world making similar or greater efforts to spark social change.”

Garcia is creating a U of A program to focus on the discourse of social enterprise, change making and social innovation.

The program is an opportunity to reflect on the role of universities and institutions of higher education in the development and promotion of these values, understanding that universities themselves are capable of shaping new paradigms for the improvement of our human condition.