Tonight was the reception drinks and formal dinner for all of us who have arrived for the Global Violence Reduction Conference (see earlier post). As we all got ready at King's College in our guest rooms and student accomodations, we were reminded of our earlier student days, ready to learn.
After venturing over to the Chapel, we entered a space full of specialists from all disciplines and occupations and instantly conversation started to flow. In every group that formed, typical questions were first asked 'Where are you from? What are you presenting?' Then it always led to 'What is your area of research?'. That is when it became clear that what the UBS Optimus Foundation wanted to happen, was actually taking place naturally.
The UBS Optimus Foundation works to support various organisations and projects that have been created to help children who face adversity. The Foundation provides significant financial support to projects that aim to break down barriers that prevent children from realizing their potential.
Patricia Lannen, who is the Programme Director of Child Protection at the UBS Optimus Foundation, has submitted a paper to the conference entitled 'The Role of Philanthropy in the Prevention of Violence against Children'. One key message in this paper is that we need organizations to work together from very different disciplines to create a Violence Prevention Research Capacity and this can not be left in the hands of politicians who are working towards short-term results and are pressured by electoral cycles.
It quickly became evident that discussions around violence prevention were taking place between Political Scientists, Criminologists, Physicians, Psychologists, Members of major Think Tanks from America, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa as well as many other very well established academics. Discussions around the difficulty to get funding for research, access to quality data and lack of political/government support were quite common. But also, similarities between research designs, prediction models and risk and protective factors surfaced. It is evident that there is a very collaborative theme to this conference with the ultimate goal of working together to understand how we can continue to reduce violence globally.
However, the highlight of the night was during dinner when Manuel Eisner (Director of the Violence Research Centre) was named 'Harry Potter'.