BACKGROUND NOTE FOR

CONFERENCE ON UNFOLDING LEARNING SOCIETIES 2

Mumbai, January 15 - 21, 2004

 

Over the past few years, the concept of learning societies has re-emerged as an alternative to the dominant discourse of education, schooling, and literacy. Strongly articulated in different ways during the early 1970s — both by Edgar Faure (Learning to Be, 1971), Club of Rome (No Limits to Learning, 1977) and Ivan Illich (Deschooling Society, 1970 and Tools for Conviviality, 1977)[1] — the discussion on learning societies then disappeared for almost three decades as narrowly framed campaigns of ‘Eradicating Illiteracy’ and ‘Education for All’ took center stage. 

 

However, recent frustration and disillusionment with these efforts and larger questions around the diverse and organic nature of human learning as well as the unsustainability of Development and the Global Economy have opened the door to exploring new possibilities. This has been articulated in publications by groups such as Shikshantar (www.swaraj.org/shikshantar), Multiworld Network (www.multiworld.org), the Coalition for Self-Learning (www.creatinglearningcommunities.org), and the 21st Century Learning Initiative (www. 21learn.org).  Interest in learning societies has been further revitalized in the new millennium by the World Expo 2000 (Hanover, Germany) and the World Social Forum II and Forum III (Porto Alegre, Brazil), where in both events UNESCO co-facilitated panels in this area. Regional gatherings geared towards contextualizing learning societies have been held in Udaipur, India (December 2002) and in Beirut, Lebanon (October 2003). The current urge to regenerate the discourse of learning societies is fueled by several discussions and experiments – around alternative notions of progress, learning, wisdom, family/community, cultural production, diversity, freedom, social justice, technology, ecology, dissent, etc. – which are taking place in the midst of various crises brought on by industrial-military development, neoliberalism, global terrorism and the spread of institutionalized monoculture.

 

With their focus on dealing with the pressing social issues of our times and on creating "another world", the World Social Forum and Mumbai Resistance (see Annex 1) are an excellent opportunity for collectively deepening the discourses on learning societies. In turn, the learning societies discourses can deepen the thinking, particularly on issues related to education and media, within the WSF and MR. Approximately 35 leading thinker-doers and 35 walkouts from the sub-continent (and some other parts of the world) will be invited to co-create a six-day dynamic interaction to:

* share ideas about and experiences with nurturing diverse learning webs in different contexts;

* explore learning and living on several levels: of the self, family, community, locality, society;

* host several thematic sessions related to unfolding learning societies;

* interact with other sessions and events at the World Social Forum and Mumbai Resistance to identify obstacles, challenges, possibilities and resources for the unfolding of learning societies.

 

It is expected that the content that emerges from the conference discussions with be shared with local groups throughout the sub-continent, with UNESCO mechanisms and networks (such as the Collective Consultation of NGOs on EFA), as well as with interested governmental, non-governmental and social movement groups from other parts of the world.

 

The organizers will provide local food/accommodation/transportation to all participants. There are limited funds available to support travel to/from Mumbai.

 

VENUE:         Mumbai, Maharashtra, INDIA

DATES:          January 15 -21, 2003

 

WORKING THEMES, MODALITIES AND PARTICIPATION

 

How will intense interactions between the participants be nurtured?

In the spirit of learning societies, the Conference will encourage diverse forms and modalities of interaction, including: multimedia exhibitions, open space technology, small circles, games, self-expression exercises, video interviews as well as guided discussion. Co-creators will be encouraged to dynamically interact with the World Social Forum and Mumbai Resistance activities and bring those interactions back into the Conference discussions. Thematic workshops during the World Social Forum (and open to all) will be prepared by co-creators who have relevant experience in the areas concerned on the following themes (see Annex 2): 

Session I: Unlearning

Session II: Walking Out, Walking On…

Session III: Escaping the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to Recover Diverse Forms of Human Dignity

Session IV: Urban Living: Regenerating our Learning Ecologies

Session V: Community Media and Expressions

Session VI: Parents, Families and Communities: How Do We Want to Grow with Our

Children

Session VII: Reclaiming Play as an Integral Part of Our Lives

Session VIII: Food and Learning: We Are How We Eat

Session IX: The Power of Hands, Backs and Feet: Valuing and Reclaiming Our Labor

and Local Economies

Session X: In Search of Wisdom: Healing, Spirit and Nature

 

What are some of the key questions to be discussed?

The Conference seeks to generate new questions in order to deepen the understanding of and action on learning societies. Some questions to help kick-off the discussion include the following:

* What is your personal vision of a learning society?  What are its essential elements?

* What new experiments that contribute to unfolding learning societies have you been involved over the past year?

* What do seed-thoughts planted by visionaries such as Gandhi, Tagore, Krishnamurti, Aurobindo, Vinoba and others contribute to the discussion on learning societies?

* In your area, what new opportunities and trends are emerging that are relevant to learning societies?

* What process-based tools and resources are you aware of which can be used to support vibrant learning ecologies?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of each of these?

* How to engage and inspire other efforts such as Education for All, various social

movements, and parents/young people around questions related to learning societies?

 

What are participants asked to bring to the conference?

Every participant will be asked to:

1) contribute to the on-line pre-conference preparation process;

2) review background materials on learning societies and thematic sessions and prepare some reflections on these to share with the group and during the WSF and MR;

3) bring materials, questions, exercises, tools, etc. for a small interactive stall to share your work and its relevance to learning societies, both internally and with others at the WSF and MR;

4) come prepared to dynamically interact with the WSF and MR, and to share their learnings and experiences with those participating in the conference.

 

 

 

 


REGISTRATION FORM FOR PARTICIPATION IN THE

UNFOLDING LEARNING SOCIETIES CONFERENCE 2

MUMBAI, January 2004

 

 


DETAILS ABOUT YOURSELF

 

Full  Name………………………………………………………………………………………… Age:……………………………………….

Organisation……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Address : …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

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List of national/regional/international networks and/or coalitions your organisation is linked to : ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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Special Dietary Requirements: ………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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Please check :

___  I/my organization will be able to cover the costs of my travel

___  I will require financial assistance for my travel costs from the organizers

Rs.________________  is how much assistance I require.

 

 

For Those Participants Requiring Indian Visas :

Nationality :………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Passport # : ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Passport Issue Date : ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

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Please apply for a tourist visa; if you need further assistance, please let us know.

 

Please fill in this registration form and send it to:

                             Shikshantar

                             Manish Jain

21 Fatehpura, Udaipur, Rajasthan India 313004

Tel: + 91 294 245 1303; Fax: + 91 294 245 1949

Email: lsmanish@yahoo.com


ANNEX 1

ABOUT THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUM

The World Social Forum was conceived as an international forum built around the slogan “Another World Is Possible” to contest the formulations offered by neo-liberal economic policies and capitalist-led globalisation.  It seeks to provide a space for discussing alternatives, for exchanging experiences and for strengthening alliances between social movements, unions of working people and NGOs, as well as an opportunity for cross-sectoral dialogue. The first three WSFs were held in January and February 2001- 2003, in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil and were timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The WSF has become a symbol of the gathering strength of forces fighting against globalisation and war. WSF 2003, with over 100,000 participants from more than 130 countries became a rallying point against the war in Iraq. 
 
Hosting of the World Social Forum global meet in India in 2004 is a great opportunity and challenge to people’s movements and to all civil and political organisations across the world especially those of the peoples of Asia and Africa. The WSF 2004 is for all those opposed to imperialist and neo-liberal globalisation, war and sectarian violence, and has a commitment to democratic values, plurality, dignity and peace.  WSF 2004 is also a symbol of unity and democratic space for people to assert their rights for peace and a world free of violence, bigotry and hatred. The WSF India process will not only focus on imperialist globalisation but also on the issues of religious and sectarian violence, casteism and patriarchy. The WSF process in India will make space for all sections of society to come together and articulate their struggles and visions, individually and collectively, against the threat of neo-liberal, capitalist globalisation on one hand and uphold the secular, plural and gender sensitive framework on the other. The process in India makes space available for all sections of society, but most importantly, it makes space for all those in society that remain less visible, marginalized, unrecognised, and oppressed. This entails the opening of a dialogue within and between the broad spectrum of political parties and groups, social movements and other organisations.  The WSF-India process aims to be widespread and inclusive by allowing for a space for workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, dalits, women, hawkers, all minorities, immigrants, students, academicians, artisans, artists, the media as well as parliamentarians, sympathetic bureaucrats and other concerned sections from within and outside the state.  The event will bring together independent, as well as mass organisations, new social movements and NGOs on one platform, for the first time in recent Indian history. 
 
India will host the WSF 2004 from 16- 21 January 2004 in Mumbai. Mumbai provides an ideal site to challenge the neo-liberal globalisation agenda, as it is perhaps the largest financial centre in the world outside the OECD, as well being the location of some of the most aggressive and violent acts of religious sectarianism that the sub-continent has witnessed. Mumbai is also a large industrial centre and has witnessed the birth of a militant trade union movement, vibrant dalit and women’s movements, and the growth of alternatives to mainstream arts, performing arts and cinema. 
 
WSF 2004, following on the previous World Social Forums, will include diverse forms of interaction including plenary sessions, conferences, seminars, round table discussions, workshops, cultural events, and mass meetings, rallies and marches. A special effort will be made to make all events participatory and dialogic as far as possible, i.e., allowing for responses from the audience, question and answer sessions, etc. The Youth Forum will highlight and promote the significant role played by youth across the world in the global movement to assert that ‘Another World is Possible’. In the run-up to the final event in January, a four day multiple venue film festival between October and December is planned.

For more information: www.wsfindia.org


ABOUT MUMBAI RESISTANCE '04

MR-2004 is a four day international event, scheduled for January 17-20, 2004. It is independent of and will run parallel to the World Social Forum (WSF), Mumbai.

It is part of the process of building a strong worldwide anti-imperialist movement going beyond the limits of WSF towards organised resistance in continuation of the militant traditions of the recent anti-globalisation and anti-war movements. 

MR-2004 has a clear and unambiguous anti-imperialist focus and seeks to unite those who are genuinely opposed to imperialist globalisation and wars of aggression. Through sharing experiences and analysing imperialist strategies, it aims at developing a perspective that will unite all struggling forces, irrespective of the forms of struggle they may choose, and take the movement forward to confront and ultimately defeat imperialism.

MR-2004, seeing a futility in the amorphous presentation of “Another Possible World” by the WSF, seeks to concretely define an alternative socio-economic structure, as one built on a basis of self-reliance, with a total break from all controls, domination and subjugation by imperialism and the institutions of the world capitalist system – such as World Bank, IMF, WTO, TNCs, etc. It believes that prosperity and growth in India, as with all other underdeveloped countries, can be achieved only through a self-reliant economy, moving towards a genuine socialist order. It is of the opinion that this can be achieved through struggle, not endless and often not so meaningful debates.

MR 2004 will hold a two-day seminar and a series of workshops (primarily on issues that affect the lives of the people), a day of cultural resistance on January 19th and a mammoth mass rally on January 20th.

We call on all those in favour of a militant and sustained struggle against imperialist globalisation and war to join this process.

 

For more information: www.mumbairesistance.org

 

 

 

 

 


ANNEX 2

UNFOLDING LEARNING SOCIETIES 2

JANUARY 2004

 

 

Session I: Unlearning

Session II: Walking Out, Walking On…

Session III: Escaping the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to Recover Diverse Forms of Human Dignity

Session IV: Urban Living: Regenerating our Learning Ecologies

Session V: Community Media and Expressions

Session VI: Parents, Families and Communities: How Do We Want to Grow with Our Children

Session VII: Reclaiming Play as an Integral Part of Our Lives

Session VIII: Food and Learning: We Are How We Eat

Session IX: The Power of Hands, Backs and Feet: Valuing and Reclaiming Our Labor and Local Economies

Session X: In Search of Wisdom: Healing, Spirit and Nature

 

 

Proposed Sessions for the World Social Forum

 

Session I: Unlearning

While critiques of existing models of Progress and Development have been voiced by such movements for the last 500 years, what is needed is more time and space for unlearning. The fact is, a multitude of assumptions, frameworks, programs, assessments, measures, etc., have suppressed both our realities and our imaginations.  To paraphrase Albert Einstein, the same thinking which generated the problem in the first place is being used to produce the solution.  Unless we have space to examine this thinking – and the practices that stem from it – we will continue to manufacture higher-order problems.  Without giving serious time and attention to unlearning, it is likely that the global and local crises which abound today will reach even more catastrophic proportions.

 

There are several different dimensions that people associate with the concept of unlearning, namely ‘de-conditioning,’ ‘de-colonizing’, ‘de-programming,’ ‘deschooling/unschooling’, ‘de-professionalizing’, and ‘de-institutionalizing’.  Unlearning seems to be about becoming more conscious of the different assumptions, abstractions, stereotypes, and expectations that influence how we understand the world.   It is about exploring how we create knowledge, how we relate to each other, how we act and how we grow.  But it does not simply mean rejecting big lies, breaking away from imposed categories, overcoming our fears or anxieties, shattering oppressive relationships, etc. (though it certainly can include such processes).  Rather, there are also many regenerative aspects to unlearning.  It stimulates the imagination, to allow us to journey with confidence and humility into the unknown.  It involves listening both inwards and outwards, trying to see interconnections, which eventually enables each of us to slowly become whole again.  In this way, it dissolves the divide between ‘us’ and ‘them’/the Other.

 

In this session, we would like to explore both processes of unlearning (How do we do it?  What kinds of relationships, spaces, conditions, foster unlearning?) as well as the content/issues for unlearning (What are some of the major myths, assumptions, stereotypes, attitudes, etc., we need to unlearn? What lies have our schools and mass media taught us?). 

HOST: Manish Jain, Shikshantar

 

 

 

Session II: Walking Out, Walking On…

Today, those who have the good sense to choose to leave the dominant system of education are labeled by it as ‘drop-outs’.  This negative term connotes failing and incompetence, and is applied to those who don’t fit in the competitive schooling or college system.  In this gathering, we will turn this term (and the underlying worldview it is connected to) on its head. 

 

We view the decision to walk out (or rise out) of institutionalized educational structures, as a thoughtful and positive choice. It exposes education for what is: a deep form of violence against peoples’ minds, bodies and spirits, which cuts them off from nature, their family, communities, culture, work, expression, and themselves. Furthermore, walking out represents a strong form of dissent against the global political economy. It is a powerful step towards reclaiming control over one’s own learning, and therefore, over one’s own life. 

 

In the session, we will explore questions like: How have we taken charge of our own learning and created our own learning webs? How can we form mutually nurturing relationships amongst ourselves and support each other’s continuous learning? How can we challenge the formal system and encourage others, who feel trapped, to take the next steps to leave it?

 

We hope this gathering will enable walk-outs to share their stories, questions and dreams with one another, and will inspire others to see the strength and potential of rising out of stifling, dead institutions.  We seek to lift the taboo from those who choose to walk-out. For those interested in learning societies, this session will also highlight the dynamic possibilities and choices that exist outside of institutionalized education. A dynamic and beautiful world of living and learning – which is much bigger than schooling – awaits each one of us, if we choose to recognize it.

HOST: Shilpa Jain, Shikshantar 

 

 

Session III: Escaping the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to Recover Diverse Forms of Human Dignity

There is an increasing concern around the world in regard to the erosion of diversity in learning and perceiving, and the elimination of a pluralistic attitude towards worldviews and systems of knowledge. In recent years, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the development project (both of which were formulated around the same time), in addition to the mass media and the education system, have deepened and widened the march towards “universalism.” Out of all these tools, the one that is least seen in this light — of killing diversity, eroding responsibility, ignoring dignity and self-exploration, narrowing the meaning of freedom and justice, and ignoring wisdom — has been the UDHR.

 

This session will raise the issue of incompatibility between the UDHR and pluralism, and simultaneously start a process that reflects more accurately peoples’ experiences with human dignity in various cultures. We will bring together several “worldviews” that represent different traditions and ways of living, interacting, perceiving and thinking.  In this way, we will seek out language, metaphors, stories and experiences which evoke non-institutionalized understandings of human dignity. The purpose of the session is not to come up with an Alternative or New Universal Declaration, which would replace or be against the current one, but rather, to start a serious discussion which is respectful of the plurality in how people perceive and practice rights in various cultures. We would like to invite people to engage with questions like:  What would it mean for us to stop demanding institutionalized freedoms from a State-Market nexus (which appears to be bent on taking them away) and instead to start reclaiming lives of true dignity?  What kinds of partnerships, dialogues, and critical and creative actions will be important for us to de-institutionalize our lives? How can we collectively generate more organic understandings of human dignity from our own local cultures, which are dynamic, organic, influential and meaningful?

 

The session is not about academic but existential concerns. Pluralism and wisdom are crucial to human survival, growth and happiness. They are crucial in reversing current catastrophic trends. They require humbleness and respect.  The situation in the world requires collaboration among all; no one alone has the whole solution.

HOST: Munir Fasheh, Arab Education Forum and Sugandhi Baliga

 

 

Session IV: Urban Living: Regenerating our Learning Ecologies

Modern cities today have become models of faulty development policies and pursuits. Apart from building a massive network of infrastructure, cities are becoming breeding grounds of inhuman relationships and alienating processes. Feeling the brunt of urbanization are disconnected city members, who are thrust into cut-throat competition with each other for supposedly scarce resources. From industries to educational institutions, to trade and culture, urbanites think mainly of how to fulfill their various insatiable needs. But the urban landscape relies heavily on institutions of the dominant system/market economy, in the areas of public health, education, transportation, food, mass media and governance. The question for urban dwellers then becomes: Are these institutions serving the purpose for which they were created? - Are schools promoting learning? Do hospitals really heal the patients? Does mass transportation ease our travel? Does mass media provide entertainment? Does the state machinery deliver welfare?

 

While the responses to these questions may evoke rhetoric as well as realities, it seems to be a crucial time to reflect deeply on urban living.  What are the hidden costs of urbanization? How do we learn to live more sustainably in our cities? What spaces and opportunities for resisting violent globalization exist within cities? For learning societies, urbanization and its corresponding impacts cannot be ignored. Socially, politically, economically, and ecologically cities are facing tremendous crises. Moreover, without examining urban living, it is difficult to imagine how rural communities will survive.  Daily, rural resources (at all levels) are being sucked dry by cities.

 

The emerging crises of city life transcend the pace and scope of education in schools and call for new societal processes of learning. Thus, the quality of life in cities and villages depends not only on individual learning but also on families, groups, neighborhoods, and cities engaging in learning together in ways.

 

The questions we hope to explore in this session include: How does (or can) city life provide a meaningful existence?  What contributions can city dwellers make to transform urban environments?  How can they consciously and creatively engage in the city?  What is the relationship between urban and rural life? What can city people learn from villages? What experiences, stories, experiments are already occurring in this field? How have we who live in cities been changing our own personal lifestyles?

HOST: Vidhi Jain, Shikshantar

 

 

Session V: Community Media and Expressions

In a globalised world increasingly dominated by ready-made images, the choice of self-determination is shrinking by the day. Rather easily, people fall prey to the ‘options’ produced by some propaganda machinery, believing they have a wide range of choices available to them. What is glossed over is that our role and involvement is that of a consumer. When we allow others to control our minds and decisions, we lose our freedom — to choose our paths, to involve ourselves with members of our community, and to reclaim the most vital element of our lives, creativity.

 

Creative expressions define our individual and collective being, are part of our dignity and self-worth, and are unique to us as humans. But in the mad rush of competing, employment and getting adjusted in the ready-made world, our expressions become silenced and suppressed. In this session, we seek to explore ways to liberate ourselves from the mass media’s chains and in the process, to discover our many-hued, multi-coloured expressions. Community media offers us the opportunity to reclaim our lives by discovering the joys of creative ways and forms: from kinesthetic modes of expressions, which are within us, to external media like puppets, posters, masks, etc. We are interested in those media forms which do not seek to tell villagers what to do in their lives but rather those media that encourage deep reflection, local cultural production and generative dialogue in local languages and idioms.

 

In this session, we will see and create a wide range of community media and initiate discussion on a variety of relevant themes and issues: How can we develop learning processes to generate critical perspectives on the mass media?  How can we revive our local cultural productions? How can we recover and reclaim our expressions, both individually and collectively?  Community media and expressions help us to link our inner and outer worlds, and weave a web of rootedness, belongingness and well-being. They are a strong statement of challenging the hegemonic monopoly of the globalised world, by showing that we as individuals and our community have enough resources within ourselves to ‘co-author’ our worlds with values and meanings we cherish.

HOST: Sujata Babar, Abhivyakti and Ganesh Mandekar, Abhivyakti

 

 

Session VI: Parents, Families and Communities: How Do We Want to Grow with Our Children

Many parents have to prepare their children to live in and to transform a world that is currently moving in a direction counter to their beliefs and hopes.  This is a big challenge, a struggle against many odds to maintain one’s sanity and create loving and nurturing environments and relationships for and with our children.  Particularly around issues of schooling and education, as well as with the mass media and consumer market, do parents face many challenges.  Moreover, extended and joint family systems, as well as neighborhoods, cooperatives and other kinds of ‘families’, are quickly disappearing, as they have been brutally assaulted by both the State and the Market.  Therefore, the support parents and children once had has also been reduced.    
 
In this session, we hope to explore several questions with parents and families, such as: How are we learning and growing with our children in this day and age?  How do we share with them the injustices going on in the world and the resistances that are born from them?  What values do we hope to grow with them, in the midst of so many violent and destructive forces?  How do we deal with being imperfect role models? What kind of families are we building and what kind of support do we need in these processes? How do we find and build this kind of support? How do we de-institutionalize our families?
 
This session will especially focus on parents who are unschooling their children, either by never having sent them to school or by removing them from schools having seen their impact on children.  It will also relate to parents/families who are engaged in activism at some level.  We are inviting parents (and those aspiring-to-be parents) to discuss their experiences, both what they have learned and what they are still struggling with. 

HOST: Coumba Toure, Institute for Popular Education

 

Session VII: Reintegrating Play into Our Lives

Understandings and experiences of play, joy and fun are under attack. Many of us have submerged ourselves in the mass consumption of so-called ‘entertainment’, through television, video games or other aspects of the mass media. Or if television has not taken up our time for creative play, then it is totally filled up with only one game: cricket (in India, soccer in Brazil, etc.) – again, a product of the competitive monoculture modern mind. On the other side, many adults – even those involved in activism – have dismissed ‘play’ as only being for children. We have heard it stated many times, that there is too much work to do to bother with ‘having fun’, or too much suffering in the world to ever indulge in frivolous laughter or joy. Play is constructed as something different from work, spirituality, social change. Together, these different barriers are slowly removing experiences of play from our lives.  With the loss of play, the loss of creativity and imagination is quick to follow.

 

In this session, we hope to explore: How do we challenge readymade entertainment and begin to create our own play/games/toys? How do we integrate playfulness as a natural part of our lives, even in the midst of the struggles we are working in? How do we challenge the education establishment’s claims of ‘joyful learning’, and generate authentic ways of joyful living? How does play serve as a source of power, dissent and energy for us in all aspects of life?  How do we reclaim our creativity and imagination from the ‘readymade’ world?

 

In learning societies, nurturing various notions of play is essential for creating another world. Part of this session will also focus on natural learning processes (such as intuition), re-connecting with our senses, and seeing how diverse traditional communities have defined and created toys and games. We will also spend time playing and making cooperative and creative ‘infinite’ games.

HOST: KB JINAN, KUMBHAM MURALS

 

 

Session VIII: Food and Learning: We Are How We Eat

Food: perhaps nothing connects us more. Growing it, cooking it, savoring diverse tastes and flavors — we all need and love food. The tremendous energy exhibited worldwide around ending chemical agriculture, stopping the spread of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and closing down factory farms, has been beautifully balanced with calls for a return to organic farming, the slow (local and seasonal) food movement, city farming, and community support to small farmers. Food has been an inspiring point through which to re-visit the wisdom of our ancestors. Issues and concerns around how, where and what we are eating has helped to link people across a wide spectrum of political, social and religious beliefs.

 

For learning societies, it is important to engage with food and all its related issues, from ecology to health, family/community, and local economy. We anticipate deepening our understanding of food in this session by asking: How does food (growing, cooking, eating) connect with our hopes of thinking and relating to each other differently? What kinds of movements and initiatives related to food are going on throughout the world, and how do we connect with these? What kinds of food choices do I make, and how do I share these with my wider community of friends, family and neighbors?

 

Experiences of Vazyihal Organic Farmers’ Multiversity will be discussed. Sharing a meal together – and if possible, cooking a meal together – will also be a crucial part of this session.

HOST: Claude Alvares, MULTIWORLD NETWORK

 

 

Session IX: The Power of Hands, Backs and Feet: Valuing and Reclaiming Our Labor and Our Local Economies

Nearly 100 years ago, Gandhiji (among others) reminded us of the importance of manual labor, and of its steady degradation at the hands of industrialization, technology and education. Unfortunately, the Development model picked up where colonialism left off, and Globalization has further quickened the pace, of downgrading and despising the value of our hands, backs and feet. Even communism and socialism — which claimed to be by and for the workers of the world — fair no better in their treatment of or respect for physical labor. So long as the techno-industrial economy still assumes primacy, it is unlikely that work will receive the dignity that is its just due.

 

For learning and for living differently, it is clear that work – physical labor – must be a vital part of our efforts in self- and systemic-change. In this session, we would like to share our experiences with work: What are the challenges or barriers to reclaiming our labor? What role should work have in the lives of children? What kinds of opportunities exist or can be created in each of our contexts to learn through meaningful work? What are the deep connections between work and learning (or between the body and the intellect)? How is work integrated into the other aspects of our lives: art, activism, spirituality, family, etc.? How learning be connected to regenerating local subsistence economies?

HOST: NITIN PARANJAPE, ABHIVYAKTI

 

 

Session X: In Search of Wisdom: Healing, Spirit and Nature

Of late, there has been a lot of attention given to ‘natural healing processes’, like indigenous herbs, ayurveda, rekhi, etc., with the main focus on how to reclaim these medicines and protect plants and natural resources from patenting and disappearance.  While this work is certainly important, there is an added level of discussion that is very valuable for those of us interested in learning societies.  That is, the intimate connection among healing the body, healing the mind, healing the soul, and healing nature and processes of learning.  The wisdom of our elders, of indigenous societies, and of several ancient/classical traditions reflects this connection.
 
In many traditions of healing, there is no separation between the body, mind and spirit. The clear lines assumed in allopathic, Western medicine are not so clear, especially among the diseases of the individual, the diseases of societies and the diseases of nature. Many healing practices also involve rituals, different family members, music and the mystic.  They are imbued with a sense of wisdom, which emanates from having faith in and practicing natural forms of knowing, understanding and learning (such as intuition, observation, holism, synthesis, etc.).  
 
In this session, we will explore different traditions and dimensions of healing and its relationship to spirit and nature.  How do each of us relate to healing? Can we learn to be healers at each moment, in a world where there is a mass production of pain and violence? What kinds of processes will heal ourselves and others, individually and in groups, in body, mind and soul?  What does it mean to practice natural healing in the unnatural environments we live in?  What kinds of spaces and conditions will help us to re-gain or foster wisdom?

HOST: ANITA BORKAR, ABHIVYAKTI

 

 



[1] Many of the concerns related to learning societies were voiced much earlier in the 20th century by visionaries like M.K. Gandhi, R. Tagore, J. Krishnamurti, V. Bhave, R. Steiner, J. Nyerere, T. Makiguchi, etc.