Humanitarian Intervention at the Global Level


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It was a wonderful day and opportunity to keynote the Commencement of an amazing group of newly minted psychologists in Pasadena.
It was a humbling moment to be bestowed with an honorary doctoral degree from The Chicago School as well!
If you'd like a copy of the address you came to the right spot!

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Humanitarian Intervention at the Global Level

  1. 1. Humanitarian Intervention at the Global Level Commencement Address 18 October 2013 Pasadena, California By Dr. Chris E. Stout Managing Director Center for Global Initiatives Contact: Humanitarian Tools: How exciting it is for me to be here today! I know that on such an occasion, the emotions of parents and loved ones are mixed—we all feel a little bit sad, a little bit relieved, a little bit astonished, and totally proud. I am honored to here today. To alumni, this is a day rich in memory; a day when those of a certain age (and I am one), recall our own time as a graduate student—which for me, took place roughly halfway between the invention of the iPad and the discovery of fire. The opportunities that psychology gives each these graduates, also comes with the responsibility to bring psychology to the places it needs to be. I’ve worked to do that throughout my career, and thankfully, now you all can join in! I was invited here today to talk about humanitarian intervention at the global level. Obviously the need to help others can be down the street as well as across an ocean, however most of my work tends to be more international and so that will be the focus of my talk this morning. I just want you all to know that it’s taken me almost 30 years to write this speech—I hope you like it! After graduate school, I began a career blending clinical practice, academia, and writing, as do many others, and as many of you will. In the academic area I had the fortunate opportunity to teach some courses at the Chicago School, as well as work on projects and even travel to Ghana a while back with Chicago School faculty and students. Semi-simultaneously, I was publishing a number of clinically oriented books, but in addition, I was also publishing books entitled: The Integration of Psychological Principles in Policy Development 1
  2. 2. The Psychology of Diplomacy The Psychology of Terrorism Collateral Damage And The Psychology of Resolving Global Conflicts: From War to Peace And I would like to thank one of my wonderful publishers, Praeger, for all their help with those books. These works were the result of participating in conferences, dialogs, and think tanks. In the late 1990s I was able to join a group of amazing psychologists working at the UN. Every month I would fly to Manhattan, go to meetings and conduct my research. Subsequently I was invited to things like TED Conferences, Renaissance Weekends, The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, The State of the World Forum, and go to other places around the world that very much intimidated me. But, I had the chance to meet some amazing and inspirational people that I am humbled to say that to this day, are my friends. Many of those folk were founders of amazing nonprofits and NGOs. I went on to publish a three volume set of books called The New Humanitarians based on their work and organizations. Thanks again….Praeger! Shortly after my stint with the UN had finished, I went on my first volunteer medical mission to Vietnam, and it was life changing. I spent three weeks in Halong Bay working in a 100 year old ramshackle hospital that had no glass in the windows, no water in the pipes, and no electricity in the wires. But for those three weeks it had a group of visitors that were full of hope and a group of volunteers that rocked at working 10 hour days, seeing 100s of patients, in 100+ degree temps. Ah, volunteerism….! It is through experiences like these that you can learn many things to augment your graduate education…like how to bribe a customs official in order to be allowed to cross with the medicines you brought with you, or how to manage your own case of dysentery while working in a Bolivian men’s prison. I can tell you that that is not an elective in any graduate program I know of! The point is that all of these activities conspired to make me want to move from the prior policyfocused aspects of my international work, as important as they are, to one that was perhaps a bit more action oriented or in-the-field as they say. 2
  3. 3. Also around this time I’d just finished reading The White Man’s Burden, by an economist named William Easterly—and that did it! Easterly’s thesis was that small organizations in many instances may be more successful in making real differences in people’s lives than the BIG BOYS, becauses small players are more agile and not saddled with moribund bureaucratic procedures. So the Center for Global Initiatives was born! The process of gaining the IRS approval for such is not easy, quick, or inexpensive. But we got it done. And today the results have been wonderful! GuideStar awarded us their coveted Silver ranking and we were named a 2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit. We have been invited to help with needs and projects in Bolivia, Cambodia, Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Guatemala, India, and Ukraine. We founded a kindergarten in Tanzania for orphaned children—approved by the Tanzania Ministry of Education. To-date we have provided medical services and food to over 20,000 Tanzanian orphans and individuals in need and we have graduated more than 70 orphaned children from that kindergarten. We funded care for malaria treatment for over 2000 Tanzanian children and adults for 73-cents a patient. I have been to over 85 countries. I have had some of my books and chapters translated into 8 languages. All of this has been from the work of unpaid volunteers, including myself. I think we have lived up to the standard set by Easterly’s book and Margaret Mead’s famous observation to “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.” Our current work is to bring all of our tools and resources together and make them available to all of you, and anyone else, for free. I’m on faculty at the College of Medicine at the U of I, and there the credo is “see one, do one, teach one.” So, we saw how we could help, we did so, and now we’re helping you to be able to do so, too! We have created a Curated Library of downloadable tools via DropBox with over 20 categories and 800 full text articles and books. On SlideShare I have posted presentations and videos that have a combined viewership of almost 20,000 in just the past few months. I blog on humanitarian issues as a Linkedin Influencer with almost 11,000 followers. We have a chapter-by-chapter downloadable medical text library on our website as well as helpful links for multi-lingual medical information, translation services and international travel. 3
  4. 4. And we have tools to get you reduced airfare if you are working on an international humanitarian mission. We have a downloadable spreadsheet that lists over 100 helpful websites for fundraising, nonprofit development, board recruitment, volunteer management, and more. And we have over 85 online courses though our CourseWorks Program where you can take—for free—everything from Global Health Technology to Measuring Poverty to Cultural Competency to Volunteer Ethics and Professionalism. Or perhaps you may want to work toward one of 19 Certifications offered at whopping $25/course. We can do that, too. So, what’s next for our work at the Center? Well, with thanks to the vision and leadership of Dr. Michele Nealon-Woods and Dr. Tiffany Masson our Center is working with the International Psychology Program and developing the first of its kind Consortium for Humanitarian Intervention. This is an amazing project and will yield much impact on the world stage. And yes, I’ll still be writing…The APA will have a new book released in 2014 called “Going Global” that I was invited to contribute to, and while I continue to write and present, you can also count on me being in the field as well. The Chicago School and its staff, its faculty, its current students, and today’s graduates all unite to play a critical role in the public good and the betterment of others. Your school is known for being a pioneer—initially when it started and continuing on with programs like the International Psychology PhD. I know each of you already has the right intentions, otherwise you wouldn’t be here today, but you may be tempted to wait—we all are so tempted to wait until “something happens” instead of acting. We may wait until we can pay off our student loans, or get a job, or lose 15 pounds, or quit smoking. Or until we get married, or until we get divorced, or until we start a family… And all of a sudden after 30 some-odd years, we keep waiting until we run out of “untils.” Then it is too late. It was long believed that no human could run a mile in less than four minutes. Some of you may recall that Roger Banister was the first to shatter this falsely held belief. But even more interesting to me, is that within one year after he did, so then did 10 others! For at least 2000 years people thought it could not be done, and it couldn’t. Then once it was, 10 more times it happened in one year! Why do you suppose that was? 4
  5. 5. My point is that we oftentimes need to challenge so-called limitations. Those others put upon us and those we put upon ourselves. From the time you have spent at The Chicago School, in tandem with your incredible minds, and from your spirits that I’ve gotten a little sense of today, you have virtually limitless possibilities. Think about what interests you or how you could make a difference. Scale doesn’t matter. Mother Teresa said “If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one” and remember Easterly’s point of The Power of the Small Project. There is a whole world out there that needs YOU – down the street or across an ocean. “Everyone can be great, because The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said everyone can serve.” Graduates, we and the world need you. School is out, there is nothing stopping you! Now get to work, and go be great….! # # # For links to the resources mentioned here, please see: and Humanitarian Tools: Cheers, Chris 5