In 2010, Seattle became the first city in the world to affirm the Charter for Compassion, a proclamation that calls on people everywhere, of every faith, to restore the ancient Golden Rule to the center of religious and civic life: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
To date, more than 85,000 individuals from around the world have affirmed the Charter. It has been translated into 35 languages since becoming one of the TED community's "ideas worth spreading" in 2008.
Working behind the scenes to help the TED Prize team drive this fast-growing movement is iSchool alumna Pamela Kilborn-Miller, project manager for the Charter. "We're exploring essential questions such as, how can we engage the global community, keep them engaged, and collaborate to produce a positive impact?" she says.
Kilborn-Miller, who graduated from the Executive Master of Science in Information Management program in 2006, recently made a donation to the iSchool Fund for Excellence. The gift, she says, expresses her gratitude to a school that taught her information strategies and opened doors for her. "Education is the key to everything. It is an epic opportunity for children, it is the way people climb out of job ruts, it is the way we solve problems, large and small. The passion for understanding, expanding, and improving our world through education is what makes us human."
Faculty mentors at the ISchool remember Kilborn-Miller as that rare mix of visionary and pragmatist, of thinker and doer. "Pam was always looking at the big picture in order to make a big impact," says iSchool professor and dean emeritus Michael Eisenberg, who sponsored her Capstone research project. "She was fearless and determined to make a difference. What struck me besides her passion was her clear vision, as well as a clear strategy for accomplishing her ambitious agenda."
Kilborn-Miller says the iSchool made it possible for her to study how the United Nations' knowledge networks have helped 193 member nations collaborate to meet Millennium Development Goals, in areas such as reducing poverty and combating HIV/AIDS. Mike Crandall, senior lecturer at the school, introduced Kilborn-Miller to a knowledge-sharing expert in the U.N. system and the iSchool student discovered that "solutions to common challenges are implemented every day that few people hear about, so we often reinvent the wheel."
Kilborn-Miller came to the iSchool after working as a program manager on the MSN home page, producing two projects for Bill Gates at Microsoft, and consulting for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. When she graduated from the iSchool's MSIM program, she began creating collaborative, cross-sector global networks with the aim of "accelerating positive change."
She learned about the Charter for Compassion in 2009, while working on a global summit for the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education in Vancouver B.C. The year before, Karen Armstrong -- a former nun, best-selling author, and renowned religious scholar - had won the TED Prize, which grants winners $100,000 and "one wish to change the world."
Armstrong's wish was to create a charter that would revive the Golden Rule, which dates back thousands of years B.C. to early Confucianism, Hinduism, and Buddhismand is a common theme across the world's major religions. TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) worked with global religions leaders to craft the charter, incorporating input from citizens around the world. The Fetzer Institute provided financial support to support the growing movement.
As project manager for the Charter, Kilborn-Miller is responsible for a network with 180 partners in 34 nations, including Pakistan, Jordan, Chile, Holland and South Africa. "In Pakistan, 'Sesame Street' is creating a character to model compassion for kids. In Jordan, leaders are developing curricula to teach compassion in schools across the Middle East," says Kilborn-Miller.
The rapidly growing International Campaign for Compassionate Cities, which was sparked by her iSchool research, provides strategic support for the Charter. More than 80 cities around the world have signed on. One was the little town of Basalt, Colorado, where middle-school and elementary-school students learned what Seattle had done and asked their mayor to declare Basalt a compassionate city. The students helped research and write a proclamation -- making sure compassion for animals and the environment were included -- and the town council members took turns reading the proclamation in a meeting that moved many to tears.
Despite working long hours, Kilborn-Miller, mother of two teenagers, still finds time for other causes, including project work with Journalism that Matters, a group focused on reinventing journalism in the changing world of news and information. "We want to build a sustainable news and information service that integrates the global with the local," she says.
Kilborn-Miller says she is thankful for the strong support she received from iSchool professors and the driving passion the MSIM program instilled for continued learning. "The iSchool had my synapses firing on all cylinders," she says. "Now my appetite for learning is ferocious and a source of pure joy that will hopefully contribute, in the words of the Charter, 'to a just economy and a peaceful global community.' "
The Charter for Compassion website: www.charterforcompassion.org
A YouTube video, narrated by Rainn Wilson from "The Office" about the charter: www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxO-6SaNMvg
Narration of the charter's text: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wktlwCPDd94
Information on the International Campaign for Compassionate Cities: http://compassionatecities.org/en/cities/_cities.html