Newsletter Dec 2023
It seems like only yesterday that we were in Rome presenting our latest book , but a year has gone by. A year full of activities, research, new projects and reports.
A year in which we have presented the first conclusions of the study we are carrying out with ICWF, with whom we shall hold our next Experts Meeting in Barcelona in 2024.
A year in which the draft of our next publication ‘The Search for Home among Forced Migrants and Refugees: People on the Move‘ was successfully presented to Routledge, so that in spring of next year we shall have a new book to launch.
A year in which, at the request of the United Nations, we teamed up with Nottingham Trent University to investigate how homes can be allies in the face of climate emergencies. The report resulting from the dialogue between more than 10 experts will be the cornerstone of the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Families in New York next May.
A year in which we have asked ourselves over again in the directors’ meetings what we do, how we do it and what impact it has. We are sure that we are on the right track with our vision which has sustained HRF for almost 20 years now, but we would like to see a still wider and greater interest in households by other institutions and social agencies.
So in 2024, we will continue working so that more people get to know us because it is clear to us that without stable homes society does not move forward. Together we are stronger as champions of the home!
I hope you can enjoy a few days of rest with your family and in your home this Christmas and that 2024 will allow us opportunities to meet as a part of the many plans we have for the coming year,
Bryan K. Sanderson
Please, nominate us!
In conversation with… Rosa Lastra
HRF & NTU & UN Experts Meeting in Nottingham
Newsletter September 2023
Greetings to you all from Nottingham. This newsletter, the third of the year, finds us at the beginning of one of the most important events of 2023 for our Foundation, the Expert Meeting ‘Home, Family and Climate Change’.
A year ago, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs contacted us to commission a report to serve as a reference in the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Families (IYF+30). This day has been celebrated since 1994 every 15 May with sessions and round tables at the UN headquarters in New York.
With our director Professor Gamal Abdelmonem and his institution, Nottingham Trent University, as a partner, we have organised two days of meetings in which experts will discuss, based on their research, how households can be allies in combating the climate emergencies we are facing. More than 15 experts from different disciplines, from Europe, the United States and Asia are meeting from today to provide answers to the great unknowns that we are facing. You can see their profiles here.
Next week’s Be Home Blog post will highlight the main ideas and little by little throughout this quarter we will be unpacking the most significant conclusions.
From this third quarter of the year, we are very proud to announce that our director Sophia Aguirre, distinguished Ordinary Professor of Economics and researcher in the field of finance, family, and economic development, was appointed President of Catholic Distance University on July 1, 2023. Dr Aguirre has been part of our board since HRF began. She led our latest Expert Meeting in Washington on Home and Displaced People. She has also participated in several conferences and contributed to our publications. We congratulate her and wish her well in her new role.
In these summer months, we have continued to work to give the home a voice. In July we participated in the Tenth Congress on Family and Work at IESE. Dr Stephen Davies, representing HRF, presented our book ‘Happiness and Domestic Life’ and shared his expertise on the architectural evolution of the home in relation to social trends.
Our Communications Manager Ángela de Miguel attended the Conference on Care, People and Society celebrating the 25th anniversary of the International University of Catalonia. Please see here to revisit the post we published on this event.
Taking advantage of the excellent climate of the city and the generosity of our directors, we met in Barcelona to discuss issues and establish the pillars to make this Expert Meeting, which starts today both a successful event and a significant contribution to IYF+ 30.
The years may go by but at Home Renaissance Foundation we have the same enthusiasm and the same desire to put homes at the centre of the story. Last month I reflected on what motivates me to continue leading an institution like this, which you can read here.
Wishing you and your families a good and fruitful autumn,
Family and Media | Does technology help or inhibit the development of children´s five sense? See here: Article
McNight’s Senior Living | Live-in intergenerational programs combat loneliness, ageism, study finds. See here the article
In conversation with… Bryan K. Sanderson, CBE
Home and Climate Change, 5th Experts Meeting
Understanding the power of home to transform societies in the face of Climate Emergency
28-29 September 2023 | Nottingham Conference Centre, Nottingham Trent University, UK
Academic Leaders: M. Gamal Abdelmonem and Antonio Argandoña
This Expert Meeting aims to explore the role home and family play in the transition towards a sustainable and carbon-neutral planet, where our Carbon footprint is neutralised by offsetting our consumption with the production of clean energy and a sustainable lifestyle. Building on the lessons learnt during COVID-19 Pandemic, and the global response to a universal emergency, this meeting will bring experts, scholars and scientists from diverse disciplines, professions, and research backgrounds to debate the challenges and opportunities facing the home as societal institutions to achieve that goal. It tries to respond to a key question, ‘how can we engage more effectively with the home and family as a resilient unit to help societies and economies combat Climate Change?’
Key themes/ strands
1. The Care of the Planet: Love and Care at the Heart of Climate Response
Our planet is our shared home. It is key to our survival and our perception of living. On the personal and cultural levels, we care for our planet because we truly understand that the planet is our home. As we ought to take care of our individual and most intimate homes, it is also imperative to take care of the all-encompassing home, on which we live and the one that houses and shelters our nations. Under this strand, we will discuss the philosophical meaning of love and care within the context of care for the home and family. It connects the universal home, the planet and its wellbeing, to the very personal and intimate home of the family.
2. Climate Change & Public Health: The Health and social care of the Home
This strand will discuss current and projected impact of global warming on family members and potential risks to essential support systems in healthcare, social care and wellbeing of individuals and vulnerable groups. Many studies reported the effects of extreme weather and heatwave on the health of older and more vulnerable people who need care. This covers variable factors that influence our health, from direct impact through excessive heatwave, torrential rains, wildfires, poor air quality, and enduring dry seasons to indirect ones that result from the limitation to our healthcare systems and their capacity to increasing demands. This strand will distil the multiple studies and evidence on such change on households and potential risks. It will then recommend a set of steps that enable future healthcare policy to counter those impact and prepare the state response mechanism in the context of adverse conditions.
3. Consumption & ecological footprint: Energy, Food and Transportation
This strand will focus on everyday lifestyle and consumption, through multiple examples of household consumptions in both developed and developing world. It will put into perspective the disparities of CO2 emissions and consumption of energy though work, food supply chain and transportation (essential and luxury). Whilst studying current patterns of societies, it will summarise best practice in active reduction of carbon emission in progressive states and cities to recommend practical steps in achieving sustainable lifestyle and consumption patterns.
4. Remote economy and home-based work: digital homes changing economic and Work/Life balance
This strand will pick on several studies that debate the critical role the redistribution of economy, job markets and trade in offsetting the carbon consumption through remote patterns of work and trade from home. It will look at recent change in economic operations, and digital infrastructure that are needed to support families working from home and connect them to wider network of trade and markets. It will gather evidence on how this model may or may not support a permanent shift in our life/work balance at home and how we can be active economically with minimum use of travel and public transportation. This strand will map effective economy and corporations that relied managed to remain active during the Pandemic, those new economies that emerged to compete with traditional sectors.
5. Connected Locality: Net-Zero Homes & Neighbourhoods
Under this strand, we aim to discuss the design of carbon neutral housing and the development of net-zero cities through multiple models around proximity of the family to essential services, markets, local supplies. It considers the effective and practical impact of the 20-minute neighbourhood model, where self-sufficiency of family needs and domestic network of supplies, services, and daily needs exist in walking distance of 10 minutes. It will investigate architecture, innovation and artificial Intelligence in the make-up of greener homes and developing new forms of construction to cope with periods of torrential rains and extreme temperatures.
6. Building Climate Resilience: Raising awareness through art and culture and education
Under this theme, we aim to explore what means of art and cultural education can help young individuals for developing awareness of the role of their homes and families in responding to climate emergencies and its consequences, like increased deprivation, displacement, and health risks. It will investigate our learning institutions consideration of the home, family practices and power of education to change societal attitudes towards the environment. It will study the influence of public art and culture in shaping the public knowledge and awareness of the centrality of the environmental concerns to every day’s life of the home and family. This will consider art and culture response to extreme weathers and natural disasters as a man-made catastrophe.
Sophia Aguirre, new President of Catholic Distance University
HRF Director Maria Sophia Aguirre, Ph.D., a distinguished Ordinary Professor of Economics and researcher in the field of finance, family, and economic development, has been appointed President of Catholic Distance University on July 1, 2023.
Dr Aguirre has been part of our board since HRF began. She led our latest Experts Meeting in Washington on Home and Displaced People last year. Furthermore, she has participated in several conferences with enriching papers that have been part of our publications.
A tenured faculty member at The Catholic University of America, Dr. Aguirre has 30 years of teaching and research experience while holding leadership positions at the academic programme level, department and school levels, as well as the university at large. She was a Fulbright scholar in 2012–2013.
After completing Accounting and Business Administration degrees in Argentina, Dr. Aguirre worked in accounting and commodities trading in Chicago for several years before earning an M.A. and then a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Notre Dame with a focus on monetary and fiscal policies and international financial markets. She has represented countries, including the Holy See, in international organizations, and served the U.S. President and Secretary of State as a presidential appointee confirmed by Congress in the capacity of Commissioner and Adviser for two presidential terms. Dr. Aguirre has testified before Congress in the U.S. and in several other countries and has lectured and published extensively both domestically and internationally.
Dr. Aguirre has worked to develop and implement Integral Economic Development (IED), an interdisciplinary approach to economic analysis that recognizes the role of social relationships—first manifested by the family—as key drivers of economic activity. Dr. Aguirre’s research, and the two master’s degree programmes in Integral Economic Development she founded, have led to successful collaboration with a variety of business leaders, academicians, technologists, and policy makers by improving the lives of millions of people in the developing world. She is currently on leave at the University of St. Thomas in Houston conducting research on the application of IED to artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
The work of the home has a big impact on our personal and professional wellbeing
Accompanied by a group of experts, we had an enjoyable and richly nuanced conversation in which we concluded that housework may not get the best press, but as a society, we have an obligation to give it the value it deserves because of the great impact it has on our personal development.
As family therapist José Miguel Cubillo pointed out, in most households around the world, housework has to be done and someone has to do it. “The home is a source of rest, rest is in order and order comes through small acts of love, of dedication. An act of love can be folding a towel or putting a comb in a drawer.” The point is that these small gestures generate a feeling of gratitude towards those who make them. And gratitude is the door to happiness.
In this sense, Begoña Pérez, known as La Ordenatriz on social networks and who has millions of followers, acknowledged that “nowadays we prepare ourselves a lot for the professional world and we denigrate home management because we think it is easy but suddenly we discover that it is not”. She added that, since practically 100% of women work outside the domestic sphere, the transmission of this management, which used to take place at home, has been lost. It is a generational issue and, moreover, socially, housework is not valued, it is valued that it is done, but the effort of those who do it is not recognised.
According to the HRF/ICWF study, companies are the first to benefit from the fact that homes are a source of stability; a rested employee is an engaged employee. Experts recommend that companies develop policies that favour work-life balance – to be able to disconnect and reconnect with the workplace after being refreshed by home life. In this regard, the Director of Innovation at Mutua Madrileña and former head of cities at Ferrovial, Carmen del Campo, emphasised the need for employees to feel linked to the project of the company where they work, because in this way the company can take into account the priorities of its employees and meet them. In the case of Ferrovial, a parents’ school was created to teach how to manage a home, which provided tools for the future. As an initiative it brought workers together into an environment in which everyone has room for improvement. Mutua Madrileña, it is a company that gives a lot of space to the family environment and organises cultural and volunteer activities for families that encourage responsible parenthood. This provision helps to link the employee to the company, offering not only professional but also personal growth. Something which is difficult to include in a salary package but has incalculable value.
Naturally, we also discussed the impact of technology and its influence on family life. In our research, data revealed that phubbing could hinder family relationships. Journalist and director of Technology at Alabra María Zabala explained that while that technology, can exacerbate the problems we encounter on a day-to-day basis, it is not to blame. We are experiencing so many changes across, social, digital, relational, communicative, work-related spheres, and we have to take responsibility for how we respond, but it is society as a whole, the developers and also legislators who must ask themselves what these advances are for.. Education in digital terms is played out at home and conversations at home with our partners and our children should lead us to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong in this fast-moving world.
María Zabala added that technology brings complications, but also opportunities that we should not give up due to lack of information. She encouraged us: Let’s not only look at the bad. Let’s learn to praise the good and applaud the good decisions, not just point out the mistakes.
There was so much more that was shared in this excellent session but I shall close with Begoña Pérez’s secret for understanding and valuing the significant effort involved in building and caring for a home, on which our happiness depends: mental and spiritual order. What is it our heart asks of us? To take care of home from the inside of ourselves because it is that from which we can make the most of our home for others too.