RETHINK OUR COMMON FUTURE – transforming education
After Thirty Years
In 2017, thirty years will have passed since the publication of Our Common Future, the report of the UN Commission on Environment and Development chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland. The report helped set a global agenda for a reorientation of notions of growth and development towards sustainability. The main emphasis of the remedies suggested in the report to the environmental and other global challenges was on technological, economic, and institutional measures. In the three decades that have passed, despite considerable efforts and some success at global, regional, and national regulation, environmental, social, and economic crises have multiplied and deepened. Essentially, attempts at reorienting trajectories of development have failed – and time is running out. Reorienting the trajectory of global development requires that individuals rediscover their connection and interdependence with others, with the environment, and with the planet as a whole.
The Heart of the Matter:
Change must come from within
A sustainable future must build on the gradual development of more sustainable ways of being of individuals and communities, starting from the ground up. This demands more than merely technical, political or institutional measures aimed at softening the manifold negative impacts of our insatiable desire for consumption. It requires the reliesalization that the source of sustainability in a fuller sense lies within ourselves: our innate capacity for empathy and compassion, for feeling and taking responsibility for the well-being of others and for our planet as a whole. Since it is innate, developing this capacity does not involve learning something new, but helping people, and especially children and young adults, to (re-) discover and reconnect with the deeper levels of their being.
Focusing on youth, learning and sustainability, Rethink Our Common Future (ROCF) is a series of events exploring, assessing, and realizing concrete steps towards a sustainable future by helping young people unfold their innate capacity for presence, awareness, empathy and compassion.
Rethink Our Common Future: Transforming the Heart of Education is the first of a series of three annual conferences/workshops marking the fact that in 2017 it will be 30 years since Our Common Future, the report of the UN Commission on Development and Environment, was published and helped place sustainability at the top of the global political agenda.
Taking stock and moving forward
Fortunately, many local initiatives have already been taken by individuals and organizations, including the hosts of these events, to develop and implement concrete steps to create conducive learning environments by assisting institutions and teachers to learn and put into practice a diverse set of straightforward pedagogical tools to help children and young adults uncover and develop their innate potential for connecting better with themselves and with others.
The ROCF events in 2015-2017 are intended to bring together key actors in this field from Denmark and from abroad who have worked concretely in different ways with the development and realization of learning environments aimed at fostering the development of empathy, compassion, presence and awareness in young people.
The purpose of the meetings is to share experiences, to learn from each other and inspire one another, recognizing the profound differences between national and regional contexts as well as the universal aspects of our common challenges and potentials as we seek to help young people become better able to meet their world and each other with clarity and cordiality, rooted in a deep sense of personal integrity and universal responsibility.
While sharing this common theme and objective, in the course of the three events in 2015-2017, the emphasis will shift from individuals to families and local communities, to larger communities and networks, and the global. The relationship between individuals, the (re-)discovery of and familiarization with inner qualities and processes, and intersubjective and ultimately global connections and flows will be a continuing concern throughout the series of events.
The main focus of the events is on research in this field: what has been done and achieved in different places? What lessons can we learn from those experiences? How can we draw inspiration from each other and offer mutual support?