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A new century of social innovation

12/08/2011

Man has in him two distinct master impulses, the individualistic and the communal, a personal life and a social life, a personal motive of conduct and a social motive of conduct. The possibility of their opposition and the attempt to find their equation lie at the very roots of human civilisation.

-- Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man

The upcoming decades will be different from what has gone before. Our global society is in the midst of great transformations that will usher in new social and cultural formations. Many nations have been living the high life as a result of the prosperity afforded by rapid industrial, technological and material growth. The long tail of this -- the technological revolution -- has been fundamental in stretching tentacles of dependency far and wide. Complex structures of supply, demand and energy are now near to their breaking points.

Screen shot 2011-12-08 at 9.06.28 AMThe new century for humankind begins as the traditional structures provided by governments and social and political institutions are overwhelmed and no longer capable of serving humankind in its best interests. Problems and difficulties are likely to continue rising up, like a tsunami, and manifesting in our immediate social environments. Yet unlike a natural tsunami, these social uprisings can also serve to clean the slate and clear the brushwood. They can provide the opportunity for individuals and communities to re-evaluate their life priorities. It can be a time for reconstruction and reorientation based on newly-emerging perceptions of how better to lead a fulfilling life. Yet this outcome, perhaps, will not be for everyone: There will still be many who choose to return to the old, familiar, tried-and tested ways. However, this will prove difficult, as some of the old systems will no longer be functional.

New forms of social innovation need to be encouraged to emerge from the chrysalis of the fossilized structures. By this it is meant that more appropriate and creative social, economic, technological, cultural and political edifices can replace current dysfunctional systems. For example, new -- or previous -- skill sets can return for inclusion in our social and community roles. This may force many people to shift from office and administration jobs, from the service and manufacturing sectors, toward functions that serve a regional and localized need. These may include community teaching (in both theory and practical skills), maintenance and construction, localized economies (both currency and barter), permaculture, farming, creative inventions, regional management, community committees and more. Many farms may need to shift (or return) to organic forms of agriculture and crop growth in order to combat the rise in soil depletion. As many of us are now aware, petrochemicals and synthetic fertilizers negatively polarize the soil. While they may produce apparently abundant growth in the short term, in the long term they deplete the soil and exhaust its natural growing capability. The food produced is thus often lacking in nutrients and minerals. In short, many methods now employed will be forced, or catalyzed, into change.

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Global Social Justice Journal invites articles to be considered for publication

12/05/2011

The Global Social Justice Journal invites the submission of original research articles for publication. For further details including full submission guidelines, please visit the journal website.

IndexThe Global Social Justice Journal is a new Open Journal System initiative published by the Centre for International Studies at Cape Breton University http://cbu-cis.ca/. The Global Social Justice Journal disseminates peer reviewed research on all aspects of global social justice including issues of economic globalization, human rights, indigenous peoples, the environment, education, gender, class, poverty, inequality and race. The journal publishes research from disciplines including political science, philosophy, geography, economics, sociology, law, gender studies and indigenous studies. The journal welcomes the submission of articles analyzing the social impacts of markets and governments from normative or marginalized perspectives and specifically those originating in the global South. It especially welcomes the submission of articles that shed light on an otherwise neglected aspect of global social justice or that analyze alternative forms of social and political organization to the present structuring of globalization.

The Global Social Justice Journal has a commitment to the Open Access model of research dissemination and provides free public access to articles accepted for publication.

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Mobile phones provide new opportunities for conflict transformation in Yemen

12/01/2011

 Cross-posted from the MobileActive website. MobileActive is the 
leading
 network
 and resource on the
 use 
of 
mobile 
technology
 for
 social
 impact, providing 
field 
consulting,
 conducting 
research, 
connecting
 people 
online
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through
 participatory 
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and 
advancing
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use 
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Editor's Note: This post is written by Ibrahim Mothana who is an Atlas Fellow with MobileActive.org in 2011/2012. He is a Yemeni citizen from Sanaa.

ImagesIn Yemen it’s difficult to know just how many wars are raging in the country at any one time. For centuries the country has been plagued by revenge killings and tribal conflict and the result is hundreds of deaths each year with many more injured. These localized wars can last for decades and are one of the most serious issues facing the country today.

In rural regions of Yemen, formal legal systems and a legal infrastructure do not exist, and tribal law has significant legitimacy as the only effective and efficient means of conflict resolution. Tribal laws are based on consensus, and conflicts are resolved through complex mediation processes and appeals procedures presided over by tribal elders and leaders (sheikhs).  Due to the lack of many formal legal channels and the corruption in the legal infrastructure that exists, tribal law is faster, more efficient, and enjoys greater legitimacy.

Yet one of the biggest obstacles in using tribal law as a tool for conflict resolution is the lack of communication -- which is, in fact, often the root cause of many of the disputes between tribes. Creating dialogue between communities becomes an extraordinary challenge in a country with 24 million people dispersed over 150,000 human settlements. 

Most of the tribal conflicts are dealt with customary tribal laws before becoming violent but if an armed conflict starts between tribes, then all channels of communication stop and the members of one tribe are not allowed to enter the territory of the other tribe. Only a third party can bring representatives from both sides to negotiate in a neutral environment, and convince the two or more tribal parties to negotiate or choose an arbitrator to settle the dispute. The increasing penetration of mobiles in the past years have eased this mediation process and virtual meetings have helped overcome the dilemma of finding a neutral meeting territory.

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Saybrook Professor George Kent publishes 2 new books

11/30/2011

 

GkphotoSaybrook Professor George Kent - who teaches STR 6585 "The Human Right to Adequate Food" - has published Ending Hunger Worldwide, a book that challenges the naïve notion that everyone wants hunger to end. Rather, hunger ensures that some people will work for very low pay, so employers make good profits and consumers enjoy cheap goods. Hunger analysts typically focus on agriculture yields and interventions with capsules and supplements. They rarely acknowledge that hunger is a deeply social issue that is shaped by the ways in which people treat each other. 1594518920_cf150The central concept that drives the book is that in strong communities, people don’t go hungry. Strong communities have high levels of concern about one another’s well-being. People may provide food to one another when that is necessary, but more fundamentally, they ensure that all have decent opportunities to provide for themselves.There is no shortage of food in the world; there is a shortage of opportunities.

Kent's other recent publication, Regulating Infant Formula, assesses the widespread assumption that the government or some international agency is monitoring the quality of infant formula. Government agencies sometimes raise alarms when a batch of formula is seriously Regulating Cover Sm contaminated, but they are not monitoring the product to ensure the health of children. More than half the infant formula used in the U.S. is provided by the government, at no cost to the families. The government monitors the economic impact on the manufacturers, but not the impact on the health of children. It has been estimated that more than 900 children in the U.S. die each year because they have been fed with infant formula.

Professor Kent was invited last year by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to speak on Ending on Hunger Worldwide for its Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition. The report from this event is available as a pdf for download.

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Directory of Open Access Journals makes quality scholarship increasingly available online

11/28/2011

The Directory of Open Access Journals increases the visibility and ease of use of open access scientific and scholarly journals thereby promoting their increased usage and impact. This is a valuable resource for the Saybrook community, in addition to our own Library's extensive resources.

The Directory aims to be comprehensive and cover all open access scientific and scholarly journals that use a quality control system to guarantee the content. In short a one stop shop for users to Open Access Journals.

DOAJ Directory of Open Access Journals

The proliferation of freely accessible online journals, the development of subject specific pre- and e-print archives and collections of learning objects provides a very valuable supplement of scientific knowledge to the existing types of published scientific information (books, journals, databases etc.). However these valuable collections are difficult to overview and integrate in the library and information services provided by libraries for their user constituency.

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Global Nonviolent Action Database Inaugurated

11/28/2011

Inaugurated September, 2011, at Swarthmore College, under the direction of scholar and professor George Lakey, the Global Nonviolent Action Database is a valuable resource providing free access to information about hundreds of cases of nonviolent action for learning and citizen action. 

Each campaign is shown in two ways: a searchable database using fields and coded assessments of degree of success, and a 2-4 page narrative detailing the play-by-play interaction of the campaign with its opponents. The database supports searches by country, by issue, by action method used, and even by year. The topics of the campaigns are grouped in six clusters: human rights; democracy; economic justice; environment; peace; and national/ethnic identity.

The goal of the Database is to make available comparative information that will support researchers and writers to develop strategic knowledge and theory. Strategists, activist organizers, scholars, and teachers will find many uses for the database, as well as citizens wanting to expand their horizons. Journalists and bloggers will find easy access for contextualizing stories of contemporary protests they are reporting. Up until now many observers write about breaking news with a tone of surprise; coverage of the Egyptian events of early 2011 included wonderment and an assumption of protester spontaneity that showed ignorance of the developing craft of nonviolent struggle. Even a short time with the database reveals a multiplicity of connections among cases, through a shared “wave,” shared methods, shared influences, and shared time periods. Activist organizers and strategists can use the database to expand the repertoire of options for nonviolent campaigns. By exploring the use of 198+ methods of action, campaigners may become more creative and proactive than they otherwise might be. They may also calculate more carefully in relation to resources and goals, and craft a more winnable campaign than they otherwise would do.

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Peace and Collaborative Development Network (PCDN) - Building Bridges, Networks and Expertise Across Sectors

11/21/2011

Created by Dr. Craig Zelizer in 2006, PCDN provides a valuable resource for Saybrook students and faculty interested in issues of international development, conflict resolution, gender mainstreaming, human rights, social entrepreneurship and related areas.

Bookcovercompressed_reasonably_smallExtensive Resource Guides offer information about scholarships, project funding, professional training, networking, IT resources, event listings and more.

The Guide to Research include:

PCDN seeks to create horizontal networking and information sharing for individuals and groups around the world. Members can chat with each other, create blogs, add to discussion topics, and share current research, experiences and challenges from the field.

The Network currently has over 22,000 members and is receiving 300,000+ hits a month. Membership is free, and emails are sent out with links to articles, recent blog posts, events, and more. (Note - members are able to control their email settings to request a daily digest rather than notification of all site actions.)

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Why Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” is just as relevant today as ever

11/18/2011

Frantz Fanon, Iconic psychiatrist and author of books such as “Wretched of the Earth”, wrote that “literature increasingly involves itself in its only real task, which is to get society to reflect and mediate”.

Pedagogy_of_the_oppressedPaulo Freire’s landmark book, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” is a prime example of literature that makes one reflect, cogitate and ponder all at once.

In addition, Freire’s “Pedagogy” is also the archetypal case in point of a book, which is just as relevant today as it was decades ago.

Freire was a Brazilian educator, who grew up during the poverty of the Great Depression in the 1930s and published one of his seminal works “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, in English in 1970. Freire’s book, rooted in his experience of liberation in Brazil is equally apt in the context of the Arab Spring, and particularly after the death of Gaddafi last week.

One of Freire’s central tenets was that “education is freedom” that leads toward true liberation and that the “banking” concept of education- where students are empty vessels to be filled, acts as an instrument of oppression. He called on the cultivation of a critical consciousness (conscientizacao), enabling those to reflect upon their own reality and thereby transform it.

“How can the oppressed, as divided, unauthentic beings, participate in developing the pedagogy of their liberation” Freire asks?

It is this concept of the oppressed initiating and participating in their own liberation, as was the case in the Arab Spring, which was central to Freire’s writing.

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Saybrook doctoral student Donna Nassor presents at APA symposium on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

11/16/2011

Portions of Donna's paper were presented at APA Division 48 Invited Symposium: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Potential Psychological Contributions to Resolution, Reconciliation, and Peace Building (August 2011, Washington DC). The full paper online can be found at Facilitate Global.

Models of Restorative Justice for Peace-Building and Transformative Societal Change In Palestine-Israel 

I come in peace with the intention of enhancing relationships, engaging in dialogue, creating alliances, building bridges and actively being a more effective agent of social change.  None of that can be done by avoiding the truth.  We can only move toward peace with justice if we collectively are willing to do what needs to be done.  I am a third generation Lebanese/Syrian American, raised as an Orthodox Christian.  Until I was 16, I thought that all Arabs were either Syrian or Lebanese and that all were Orthodox Christians.  I have a strong background in the world of business.  At the age of 36, I graduated from law school and practiced law for many years, mostly representing adults and juveniles accused of crimes as a public defender and as private counsel.  I became a lawyer because I thought I would acquire the tools to be a more effective agent of social change.  I was wrong.  Thankfully, I am now retired from the practice of law. I eventually had to admit I was almost powerless over the very broken criminal (justice) system in which I found myself working.

After helping to move mass quantities of human beings through the criminal system, in a small rural county in Pennsylvania, utilizing the punitive model, I discovered the concept of “restorative justice” (RJ)--    an effective and holistic alternative to the punitive system being used by people around world.

My experiences told me clearly that punishment was not effective in adjusting the behavior of the same people who kept coming through the justice system.  The indigenous practices of community, healing, and reconciliation had the potential to be transformative.  RJ recognizes that harm to an individual also has other layers and dimensions.  Not only is the individual affected by the harm, the community, the families of the victim and offender and the offender are also affected.

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Videos of Peace Movements Worldwide event now online!

11/14/2011

On October 30th, AHIMSA and The Metta Center for Nonviolence Education presented a free public forum, entitled: Taking stock of peace: Inspiration from Peace Movements Worldwide.

This special event launched the recent publication of Peace Movements Worldwide, a three-volume anthology with chapters covering insights and action from every continent with accounts of courageous and creative actions, ranging from the personal to the global.

Saybrook professor Marc Pilisuk co-edited the volume and speakers included members of the Saybrook community: Donald Rothberg, Melissa Anderson-Hinn, Angel Ryono, Gianina Pellegrini, and moderator Bob Flax.

The event was recorded by Wolfgang Saumweber and made available free online, in 5 parts.

 

 

 

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