Bayan Khaled, a Research Fellow at the College of Islamic Studies, part of Qatar Foundation member Hamad Bin Khalifa University, speaks about its Design Post-COVID Humanity program – and how it aims to empower change-makers.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported in December 2019 and Dr Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization, declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January 2020, which means we have been living in a pandemic for over a year.
Anyone who has an idea for social change and has the willpower and motivation to act upon this idea will do so
Although there have been epidemics and pandemics before, such as the Spanish flu, smallpox, and black death, this one is different. The COVID-19 pandemic occurred at a time when social media and the speed of information distribution has never been more efficient and the youth have never been more motivated to make a change.
Design Post-COVID Humanity
Anyone who has an idea for social change and has the willpower and motivation to act upon this idea will do so. We can attest to that because of the program we are hosted at Hamad Bin Khalifa University called Design Post-COVID Humanity (DPCH).
We called for change makers to join a program that aims to unleash their transformative power to design a fairer, more inclusive, and sustainable post-COVID humanity and the youth answered. In DPCH, teams developed a business idea to achieve a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) that has been compromised due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can more be done?
It is not enough to develop an idea and see it drift away in an imaginary land of potential contribution as soon as a program is over.
Developing an idea for social change is only the starting point, and we know for a fact that there is so much potential for our global youth to contribute significantly to their society’s wellbeing
Beyond developing an idea, our job as leaders and mentors is to encourage collaboration, to inspire youth so they may continue even without us, and to monitor them so that they can stay true to their commitment to make change.
Developing an idea for social change is only the starting point, and we know for a fact that there is so much potential for our global youth to contribute significantly to their society’s wellbeing.
Some of the ideas that our youth have worked on in the program are incredible, such as identifying solutions for refugees to find jobs, to educate special needs children, ensure biosocial justice for women and much more. But what happens next?
The nature of the DPCH program included many partnerships and collaborations. With all of the partners we had, and the speakers who shared their valuable knowledge and expertise with the young participants, the networking opportunities were endless.
Not only did they learn from these incredible minds, but it was an opportunity for them to see if their idea overlaps with the mission of our partners and find a way to take their ideas forward.
A crucial element of the program is to ensure that youth are committing to their word of making social change
A crucial element of the program is to ensure that youth are committing to their word of making social change, which is why we designed Ahd. Ahd taught the youth more about the importance of achieving the SDGs both as individuals and as a community.
Youth drafted a pledge – Ahd - where they agree to certain changes they will make in their lifestyle as well as those around them to achieve the SDGs. They will be monitored over the course of a year to ensure that they are committing to their ahd.
Finally, before we parted ways with the youth of the DPCH program, we wanted to leave them with messages of inspiration. At the Ramadan Summit, we hosted a speaker a day during Ramadan.
The speakers were experts, active youth, entrepreneurs and so many more experienced and knowledgeable individuals from the global community. They presented a talk about how one important value changed their world so that youth can take these inspiring messages with them and apply them to their ideas and lifestyle long after the program is over.
We must acknowledge that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders, presidents, CEOs, policymakers, and much more. They will be the ones to influence our society and shape our humanity
Where do we go from here?
We have established that today’s youth are undoubtedly talented, innovative, creative and motivated. Our role is to support those youth who are willing to make change and provide them with the knowledge and resources to do so.
We must acknowledge that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders, presidents, CEOs, policymakers, and much more. They will be the ones to influence our society and shape our humanity.
Investing in future leaders
In order to raise fair, inclusive, and kind future leaders who will make decisions that will affect us, we need to invest in their learning beyond the classroom.
Hopefully, with more programs like DPCH, our youth will find solace and support to bring their ideas to life in a bid to design a fairer, more inclusive, and sustainable post-COVID humanity.