Globalance: Strategies of geo-political de-escalation

The escalation of conflicts is not a fate to be accepted. The ethics of Globalance requests to develop strategies of de-escalation: understanding the other is the first step – which means to be fair to others in recognizing their humanity.

Encounter through dialogue is one of the most important steps to counter prejudices, which are often built on missing experience.

Based on these fair perceptions, fair information is possible, opposite to hate speech and fake news.

Peace trade means to expand trade to people which otherwise are deprived from cooperation. It is a key element in peace building and conflict resolution.

Peace economy means to tame the economy where growth is too fast, not culturally embedded or too one-sided. Economic policies as well as investment strategies have always been reflected under the aspect of contributing to peace or conflicts.

The same is true for the financial sector, where fast insertion and fast extraction of capital in a country can be a short-term benefit, but can make the country vulnerable and result in conflicts.

Finally, peace politics must deal with avoiding military violent conflicts by peace diplomacy, alliances and all other means.

‘-Isms’ as threats to Globalance

Most of the worldviews ending with ‘-ism’ represent one-sided, ideological perspectives with a totalitarian tendency. An ideology is a worldview of ideas, values and beliefs, which is interpreting all aspects of reality in a way, which fits into one system and denies other parts of reality.

The core values of these ideologies are ethically speaking very positive, but they turn into a negative, unethical system by maximizing and absolutizing one value and thus contributing to polarization. They then become a threat to Globalance as a relational worldview.

These ‘-isms’ claim to give clear, simple solutions, security and order. But since they are exclusive and not inclusive and deny the existence or right of existence of opposing aspects, they in fact create conflicts, disorder and insecurity instead.

Read about those ‘-isms’ in my latest book “Globalance”:

Globalance: Covid Balance of Freedom and Discipline

The Covid-19 pandemic is shaking the world. At hand, polarisation between those in favour or against masks and vaccines, populist leaders who do not care for their people, and an accelerated trade war between US and China. Asian countries with a high level of discipline seem to have mastered the pandemic better than western countries with emphasis on freedom despite the pandemic or countries with chaotic governments.

But at the end of the first wave, the thirst for freedom and fairness has resurged in Asia – the hunger for community is back. In the post-pandemic world, we need to better balance freedom and fairness, individual self-expression and collective discipline, caring for ourselves and caring for others.

We need a global balance of values, between east and west, north and south, old and young, believers and non-believers. The pandemic teaches us: not America first or China or Uganda or Brazil first, but Humanity first. Because we all are first humans. This is the Globalance Response.

Read and download for free my latest book “Globalance. Ethics Handbook for a Balanced World Post-Covid:

New book: Globalance. Ethics Handbook for a Balanced World Post-Covid

Join the global ethics discussion and read my latest book “Globalance. Ethics Handbook for a Balanced World Post-Covid” which is out now. Download it for free or order your print copy.

Christoph StückelbergerGlobalance: My passion!

Alike other years in history, 2020 stands for disruptions, crises and shifts in many sectors of society. The date symbolizes uncertainty, imbalance and world disorder, but it also stands for a push of new solutions and joint efforts.

How can we transform such disruptions and imbalances through a new dynamic world order and global balances? How can ethics contribute to this transition by a balance of values and virtues? These questions led me to write this book.

Globalance is the alternative to the disorder of the world. It was in fact my main underlying passion and vision during the last four decades of my life and work in academic research, as journalist, in global development cooperation and the foundation.

Globalance, balancing opposites is yet not a goal in itself. The ultimate goal is to become human!

Christoph Stückelberger

Globalance. Ethics Handbook for a Balanced World Post-Covid.Globalance. Ethics Handbook for a Balanced World Post-Covid.

Christoph Stückelberger, with a Preface by Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker. Geneva, Focus Series No. 57, 2020.

ISBN 978-2-88931-367-9 (Online Version)
ISBN 978-2-88931-368-6 (Print Version B&W)
ISBN 978-2-88931-372-3 (Print Version Colour)

Download and order your copy here!


The Post-Pandemic World: The Globalance Response

The Covid-19 pandemic is shaking the world. Over 2.6 billion people around the world have been locked in their homes for weeks. Never seen in human history. 8 million infected, more than 440’000 dead, 1.25 billion people either out of work, on reduced salary or without unemployment insurance, mainly affecting tourism, hospitality, and manufacturing – this, all within four months of our last newsletter in February. People are asking: What will be the post-corona-world?We are asking: How can we strengthen our ethical values and thus contribute to a less polarized and more balanced world?

In the last GAF-newsletter I wrote about the Agape-Response. Now I continue with the Globalance Response. At hand, polarization between those in favor or against masks and vaccines, populist leaders who do not care for their people, and an accelerated trade war between US and China instead of needed cooperation that could spare human lives. Asian countries with a high level of discipline seem to have mastered the pandemic better than western countries with emphasis on freedom despite the pandemic or countries with chaotic governments.

But now, as the end of the first wave of the pandemic nears, the thirst for freedom and fairness has resurged in Asia – the hunger for community is back. This shows: in the post-pandemic world we need to better balance freedom and fairness, individual self-expression and collective discipline, caring for ourselves and caring for others and caring for our health and caring for the environment.

We need a global balance of values, between east and west, north and south, old and young, believers and non-believers. The pandemic teaches us: not America first or China or Uganda or Brazil first, but Humanity first. Because we all are first humans. This is the Globalance Response.

Further read:

#BuildingNewBridgesTogether: Strengthening Ethics in Higher Education after COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has an enormous impact on the higher education sector. Many challenges, and ethical questions, result from the current crisis: transitioning to online learning has created physical distance and exposed or widened the gaps concerning access to technology. New questions of quality assurance in teaching and assessment arise. New foci enter into the content and methodologies of teaching, research and learning. Institutions, students and teachers can play a leading role in creating new visions for changing society.

#BuildingNewBridgesTogether conference on the 25 June 2020, and its pre-conference 17-24 June 2020, provides a guiding image for us. It is essential to create ethical learning processes by facilitating international exchange and thus drawing from different contextual experiences and knowledge. This conference is the first step of a process that is designed to put participants into closer contact, share their problems, realities, needs and solutions in the different contexts and, together, begin to construct the future for ethics in higher education that we want.

With a focus on strengthening ethics in higher education, the event will be a unique sharing and learning experience built on four thematic tracks:

  • Track 1: Creating New Societal Visions in Higher Education: Values for Living Together
  • Track 2: Bridging the Gaps: Ethical Foundations of Online Teaching and Learning Pedagogies
  • Track 3: Online Education for a Sustainable Future: Quality and Ethical Standards in Higher Education
  • Track 4: Ethics and Skills for a Responsible Global Citizenship

Pre-conference: 17-24 June 2020

Participants are invited to engage in deeper and structured thematic conversation between higher education professionals. Throughout the pre-conference period, we will propose different online activities to discuss among your peers, share the challenges you are facing during this pandemic and view and discuss digital posters and virtual papers submitted by registered participants of the conference.

Conference: 25 June 2020, 15:00-18:00 (CET)

The conference programme will feature seasoned speakers from within the networks working in tandem with emerging educators, researchers and leaders, to present and facilitate the thematic tracks during the conference. The best digital posters and virtual papers will be presented during an award ceremony on 25 June 2020.

Reserve your place for free now!

Cyber Ethical Learnings from the Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic the Internet is enabling vital services to provide information and to communicate and manage emergencies. At the same time cyber ethical challenges are emerging, including threats to cybersecurity, increases in cybercrime, governments collecting more personal data and information than before, voluntary or compulsory tracing and the deepening of inequalities in education and in work for those without Internet access.
Keynote speakers addressed these critical cyber ethical challenges and engaged with participants during the free web meeting on 19 May 2020.
Keynote speakers:
  • Prof. Dr Christoph Stückelberger, President and Founder, and Board of Foundation member,
  • Dr Pavan Duggal, Honorary Chancellor of Cyberlaw University,
  • Prof. Cui Wantian, Founder of Bringspring Company and former Board Member, and
  • Zibuyile Jafta, Ethics Officer at the University of South Africa



Cyber Ethical Challenges of COVID-19 web event draws full house Howe – The web meeting co-organised by and the Cyberlaw University on the afternoon of 12 May 2020 on the topic ‘Cyber Ethical Challenges of COVID-19′ drew a full house of 100 participants from four continents with more participants waiting in the wings.

The three keynote speakers – President and Founder, Christoph Stückelberger; Board of Foundation member, Honorary Chancellor of Cyberlaw University, Pavan Duggal; and the founder of Bringspring Company and former Board Member, Cui Wantian – addressed critical ethical challenges related to emerging security, social and technical issues posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and engaged with participants during the web meeting.
The web meeting was organised in light of the fact that during the COVID-19 pandemic the Internet is enabling vital services to provide information and to communicate and manage emergencies. At the same time cyber ethical challenges are emerging, including threats to cybersecurity, increases in cybercrime, governments collecting more personal data and information than before, voluntary or compulsory tracing and the deepening of inequalities in education and in work for those without Internet access.

“As a cyber hospital we store the health date of many customers in a database… we do not have the right to use these customers’ data… Chinese society is increasingly concerned about the protection of the privacy of individuals”, observed Cui Wantian in his presentation, based on experience at Bringsping, which provides over 3,000 hospitals and medical care institutions with scientific products and services in China and other countries. Another concern that he flagged was fake news that “has misled a lot of people, with extremely serious consequences. There is a communication vacuum that needs to be addressed. So far I haven’t seen a good solution for it”, he said.

Moderator and presenter at the web meeting, Christoph Stückelberger stated that “The perception of the Covid-19 virus is different across cultures… there is a distinction between discipline versus freedom cultures”, referring to the comparison of different leadership, strategy and results in response to the pandemic around the world. He asserted a cultural influence in the development and use of tracing apps in the level of control used and the level of privacy tolerated, citing findings of the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report of 5 May 2020. In the Report globally on average 61 per cent of respondents were willing to give up their personal health and location data to help contain the spread of the virus with the percentage ranging from 45 per cent in France to 91 per cent in China. Stückelberger concluded his presentation with a focus on equality of access to the Internet during the pandemic with the need to increase support for the estimated 40 per cent of students without access and unable to continue their education.

Pavan Duggal tackled ethical challenges of cyber crime against a background of increasing cyber security breaches targeting companies, medical and educational institutions and individuals. With the Covid-19 pandemic vulnerability is augmented by the massive move to online meetings, homeworking and schooling. “The use of tracing apps to intercept and monitor has impacts on freedom of movement when citizens are obliged to download apps”, Duggal informed participants. ” When one talks about the intersection between cyber security and ethics, privacy plays an important role… it is imperative that people need to appreciate that they need to respect data privacy and personal privacy of various person”, he said. “COVID-19 is a game changer… there will be a new world order post COVID-19 that will have an impact on digital liberties”.

Further: You can read the presentations made during the web meeting.

COVID-19 and the ethical responsibility of universities

Fist published here:
Vietnamese translation:

The global emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic confronts us all with unpredictable, disruptive situations which have changed our daily lives, economies, political decisions – and universities. Important changes have been made in terms of online teaching and admission and exam schedules and have stirred discussions about what a post-coronavirus university landscape might look like.

Amid all the uncertainty and shock, universities are obliged to stick to their basic values and ethical responsibilities, which give academics a sense of direction and credibility. The following 10 ethical issues are valid across continents and political systems, according to our global ethics network

Ethics under emergency orders

Emergency orders, which have been used in many countries for the first time since the Second World War, have been necessary and give much greater powers to governments in this global war against a common enemy, a virus.

Borders are closed, people must stay at home in ‘self-isolation’ and many companies and some universities may collapse if financial help from governments is not provided very soon. Values such as solidarity are impressively practised. The emergency does not mean that ethics are overridden and disabled. On the contrary, they are needed more than ever.

Leaders with academic integrity

Universities and academics are seen as credible, independent voices. Such academic integrity is even more important in emergency situations. Virologists are the new stars with their analyses. Researchers work around the clock on vaccines and other solutions; but social sciences and all other disciplines are needed now to uphold academic integrity.

It is likely the pressure to issue manipulated certificates or let students pass exams will increase under emergency rules due to strong financial pressures at all levels. Extraordinary situations need flexible solutions in terms of assignments, admissions dates, academic schedules, exams and publications.

The likelihood of students losing a semester may be unavoidable in some countries, but, even in such extraordinary situations, the academic integrity of teachers, students, researchers and university leadership must be upheld. The pandemic shows the crucial importance and need for leaders with integrity, honestly serving the people with power entrusted in them and not primarily serving their own political or economic interests.

Equal treatment

Online teaching is a smart solution and is much needed. Many universities have developed creative solutions at short notice, but complaints about educational inequality, especially in developing countries, are increasing. Full equality may not be possible as technological conditions vary too much, but all possible efforts to promote equal treatment should be made.

Truthfulness in an infodemic

‘Facts, not fear’ is a key message of our governments. We, as academics, are crucial contributors to factual dialogue and should resist ideological pressure. After the crisis and sometimes in the midst of it, politicians are tempted to re-interpret facts and re-write history in order to prove that they have taken the right decisions at the right time for the best results for their country.

Resisting conspiracy theories

Uncertainty, a lack of information and-or political interest often lead to all kinds of conspiracy theories as has been the case in history. For example, during the Black Death or Great Plague of the 14th century, which killed many millions of people, Jews were scapegoated with false claims that they had started it by poisoning wells. Violent attacks on Jewish communities ensued and thousands of Jews were murdered.

Conspiracy theories are increasingly circulating on social media during this pandemic. Some see the virus as a biological weapon of one of the superpowers who are supposedly seeking to destroy other superpowers (lawyers in the United States have launched a class action lawsuit against China seeking US$20 trillion compensation for damages caused in the US); others blame 5G technology; others see some populations or ethnic groups as immune to the coronavirus.

Ethical academic behaviour means resisting conspiracy theories through careful independent scientific research. Conspiracy theories can lead to the persecution of political, ethnic and religious groups.

Character building and self-reliance

Homeworking, self-isolation and exclusively online communication are very difficult experiences and will become tougher with the extensions likely over the coming months. They show that social, emotional and mental strength are as necessary as intellectual capacity. Character building and self-reliance are becoming an ever more important part of academic education.

The ethics of debt

The extreme economic turbulence caused by the pandemic will also lead to very serious financial challenges of students and higher education institutions. Post-coronavirus finance ethics will bring a need to critically review the level of individual and institutional academic indebtedness. Political and economic decision-makers will need to contribute to innovative solutions to reduce and share the burden of these economic effects.

Balanced globalisation

Student mobility has reduced and national protectionism has increased as a result of the pandemic. Pre-COVID-19 globalisation was vulnerable because of its interconnectivity. Travel and trade restrictions show that we cannot solely depend on a global economy; we also need local and regional supply chains. On the other hand, the cyber world and internet connectivity offer ways of adapting quickly to new situations.

Let’s learn from this pandemic how to achieve a healthy balance between globalised and localised economies. Academic work must be globally connected, but in a sustainable way. The pandemic also confirms the key role of multilateral institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO), but also multilateral academic institutions and networks.

Religions matter

Most humans would describe themselves to some extent or other as religious and their values and ethics come from their faith. The religious part of existence needs to be integrated into the academic world – with scientific objectivity and openness.

Religious fundamentalisms and false prophets (of denial, trivialisation or apocalyptic exaggeration of the pandemic) need to be addressed in order to give solid ethical answers – possibly informed by religion – to the current challenges.

Solidarity and speed when addressing SDGs

This pandemic shows that humanity is able to stand together – in spite of justified national interest – and to act with speed and determination. These characteristics are often missing when facing other global threats.

Climate change is a process as dramatic as the pandemic, which will cost even more lives, but it is happening at a slower rate and therefore the political will to act in time is missing. Millions of children die every year of hunger and because of a lack of clean water – why not act with the same determination and speed when it comes to climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

Trillions of dollars have been approved within days to support the victims of the pandemic and to stabilise the economy. Why not for achieving the SDGs?

«In the Corona Crisis, the Golden Rule Counts even More»

I was interviewed by “reformiert.”, the magazine for all protestant households in German speaking part of Switzerland (1 million copies), for its online edition. Topic was the voice of ethics in the current corona virus crisis. Here’s the English translation. For the link to the German text, see below.

Why is the voice of ethics needed in the current corona crisis?

The pandemic immediately raises the question of what we should do and orient ourselves as a society. The first answer comes from medicine, from virologists. But how should we deal with it? Whether you call it ethics or not, there are always questions of values, such as: What is health worth to us? Who should be protected? How are scarce resources to be distributed? The current crisis is particularly about balancing priorities: Which values are most important in which situation? In the early days of the pandemic, health was paramount and everything else had to take a back seat. After two three weeks, a second wave begins. The economy in terms of financial ability, jobs and purchasing power is now back. In the medium term, profitability is also a question of life and death – having nothing to eat means it can threaten life. The new debt crisis can cost millions of lives worldwide. 

There are economists, but also virologists, who would prefer controlled infection to shut down. What do you say as an ethicist: is it important to save every life at all costs, even if it results in immense economic damage for the whole of society?

There is no doubt that we should try to save and preserve life extensively. At the same time, the protection of life cannot be weighed against the economy. Because economy should enable life. When the financial system collapses, the number of victims is even greater. Health and economy both play a major role; one has to weigh the relevant goods carefully. Unilaterally relying on measures of health or of economy means that additional victims are accepted or produced.

The decision about life and death suddenly seems omnipresent in this crisis. Doctors have to decide who should be ventilated and who should be let die.

Resources should be distributed fairly in order to preserve the lives of as many people as possible. This is how the ethical guidelines of the Swiss Society for Medical Sciences SAMS set it. Particularly important in the pandemic is the additional remark in the guidelines that a person’s money, status or fame should not play a role in the distribution of resources. In practice, we constantly make decisions about life and death, not only in the extreme situation of the pandemic. How much development aid we provide and ultimately how much we pay for a mango from Ghana has a concrete impact on the viability and the life of others. So we are not suddenly confronted with a new question, but it is much more conscious and obvious because it directly affects us in the idea that we have to go to hospital and cannot expect to get to the machine. The access to and distribution of resources is the most important question of justice.

What do you mean?

I give an example. When my father, who was living a fulfilling life as a Reformed pastor, was in the elderly people’s home, he suffered a lot from the question of justice. He had a guilty conscience because his nursing home cost a total of around ten thousand francs a month and that money could have cured a hundred blind children from their eye disease every month. But the life of a very old and or sick person is also valuable and meaningful.

The value of vulnerable life is in everyone’s consciousness these days. We practice solidarity: everyone has to stay at home to protect old and weak people. Can that go well in the long-run?

It is impressive to see how solidarity is there and how it works. Through the threat, we rediscover virtues, exercise self-discipline and modesty. These are good signals. However, the question arises whether solidarity is deeply rooted in us or is only a pragmatic necessity. This would not last long. As soon as it becomes materially difficult, solidarity is exposed to an extreme burden – this is where the belief that solidarity is a life task comes into play. We are still comfortably on the move in Switzerland. Worldwide, for example in Africa, people are already at the limit of material possibilities. A picture comes to my mind that I received yesterday: someone is sitting on the corrugated iron roof of a hut and doing social distancing. Often ten people live on six square meters. In such situations, entirely different dimensions of solidarity are required.

In other words: as long as there is prosperity, solidarity is noticeable, when resources are running out, there is a risk of argument and even violent conflict?

Signs of de-solidarization can be seen even before we get into a fight. Conspiracy theories quickly emerge in the pandemic. You try to maintain solidarity by creating enemy images. For example, the Chinese are to blame for everything. Or: Why should we take patients from Alsace in nearby France with us in Basel when we may soon need the space ourselves?

In the solidarity question, one can go back to a simple ethical principle, the golden rule that applies in all world religions (Bible Mt 7:12): Treat the other as you want to be treated yourself. Whoever helps the other can also count on help. Helping is not only altruistic, but win-win.

You address conspiracy theories. In certain religious circles, the pandemic is seen as God’s punishment. What do you think of it as a theologian?

The Bible has a different approach, especially the New Testament: “God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn people, but to save / heal them.” (John 3:17). This is an important message that should be a priority for churches and believers. It is also the essence of the Easter message: We no longer need scapegoats, but once and for all Jesus has taken the cross upon himself and freed us from the constant mechanism of looking for guilty parties. God does not want to harm us, but to help us.

A related aspect: The belief that faith protects us from all evil is unfortunately widespread: the virus spread explosively in South Korea because a mass church continued to worship against warnings. We also experience this in Africa. Up to the Zurich auxiliary bishop, who wants to stick to the award of the host. This is negligent. It can become a crime as it can kill lives – and it is unchristian. I see it like John Calvin. The Geneva Reformer in the 16th century was in poor health and was often dependent on medicine. The believers in Geneva wanted to test him; they asked him to stop taking medication and instead trust in God. But he believed that medicine was sent by God. Doctors, nursing staff, medication and vaccinations are talents and instruments of God and not of the devil

What do you think: is the crisis causing a change in values?

Yes and no. We interpret the pandemic through the glasses of our worldview. A nationalist becomes even more a nationalist, one who is open to the world demands even more global solidarity. The pandemic can only have a positive impact if we are prepared for it from our inner order of values. Otherwise, there is a rapid relapse into the old patterns. At the same time, I’m sure that the exaggerated individualism of the past decades will be challenged. We recognize the value of community. We recognize how dependent we are on the smallest communities such as core families. I think there will be significant shifts in perception. Especially as a result of the economic collapse. Global indebtedness will take on mass as it did in the 1980s. It will take enormous effort to overcome this and restore a reasonably functioning world economy. The digital technologies will increase in importance. The sustainability goals are more difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, I am confident. One will recognize the importance of multinational organizations and know that WHO plays an incredibly important, not only coordinating, but also predictive and helping role. We rely on international structures.

If we are on the chances of the crisis: Maybe the current recovery of nature through rigorous measures to renounce nourishes the hope that society and politics can actually do something about climate change?

It is good to see nature’s relaxation as an encouragement. It shows, for example, that we can also live with limited flight options and can cope with larger restrictions in air or car traffic in order to get a reasonable last-minute solution for climate change. Now we have the experience that the effects are immediately visible, now we need the appropriate balance with the economic considerations, such as massively higher flight and gasoline prices. The pandemic shows that we have far more financial options than previously thought: we will also need trillions to achieve the climate goals.

The Text was first published in German in the Online Edition of the Church magazine ‘reformiert’ on 3 April 2020.

Read the reprint with Sallux: