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Education - the key to 'new civilizations'

Dubrovnik, Croatia where the Emerging New Civilizations Iniative meeting took place

Humanity is living in a time of crisis.

At present, a global alarm has been raised due to climate change and, increasingly, there is a need to transition to renewable energies. We are now looking for 'new civilizations' that can reconcile the wellbeing of the biosphere with human development.

In October 2018 the Club of Rome adopted the ‘Emerging New Civilizations Initiative' as one of its core themes. It aims to amplify the paradigm shift towards seeing the world as an interconnected whole and bring such view into the mainstream discourse of global sustainability transformation. In parallel, the World Academy of Art & Science has been working on the ‘New Paradigm Project'.

Given the significant overlap in ideas, the World Academy of Art & Science, in collaboration with the Club of Rome, organised a meeting on ‘Emerging New Civilizations Initiative' in Inter-University Center (IUC), Dubrovnik, Croatia. This 2-day meeting, from 21 to 22 March, opened the debate to initiate thematic conversations of inquiry and advocacy needed to explore the pathways to a new civilization initiative that recognises the systemic interconnectedness of people, nations, sectors, activities, challenges, forces and consequences presiding over global development. It also aimed to start building on this idea and the possible roadmaps of this initiative.

A group of more than 40 experts was invited to this first meeting of ‘Emerging New Civilizations Initiative'. Members from the World Academy, Club of Rome and other organisations gathered at Dubrovnik to examine ideas, proposals and methodologies to collaborate on this project. The goal of this first meeting was not to provide answers but to facilitate conversations. Dr Obiora Ike, Globethics.net Director, was invited to attend and participate in this meeting among the other experts.

In his contribuion, Dr Ike reiterated the words of the late Nelson Mandela, that the collapse of values-driven education is the collapse of any society, and he highlighted the role of education and educating with values to build a new civilization.

‘Destroying any nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or long-range missiles. It only requires lowering the quality of education and allowing unethical practices to flourish.' – Nelson Mandela

Dr Ike talked about the work of Globethics.net in introducing ethics in higher education to transform young people at a critical time in their lives, enabling them to get jobs or create their own and to become responsible leaders in their families, work and larger society.

Through its four programmes — Ethics for Institutions, Ethics for Teachers, Ethics for Students and Ethics for Professions — and its four resources — a digital library, a publishing house, an academy and the biggest network on ethics — Globethics.net works with different stakeholders to integrate ethical procedures and ethical thinking in the education sector.

The meeting was structured in five sessions. The aim of the sessions was to stimulate the debate between the experts present in each session. All comments and views will be collected on a report after the event. Some of the questions discussed during the sessions indcluded: ‘What could we learn from traditional cultures and their different relationship to the biosphere?', ‘Can civilizations change without collapsing?' and ‘What is role of transformation literacy?'.