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Image credits:  1. Aristide Maillol, Head of a Woman   2. Aldo Calo, Sculpture   3. Arnaldo Pomodoro,
The Book of Signs   4. Auguste Rodin, The Thinker   5. Francois Morellet, Sphere   (click to enlarge)

Mission Statement

Minding Our Future

In developing programs and activities, conscientious focus and intergenerational attention is given to the founding values of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in advancing science and a culture of peace by honouring and adhering to the vital role of UNESCO’s Constitution of 16 November 1945: “Since wars begin in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” It emphasizes “that a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that the peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of [humankind].” (here)

“Today, we are at a turning point in our history. We can no longer continue to accept tradition for tradition’s sake. We can no longer go on playing the same old war games without eventually becoming conscious of the dimensions of the destruction involved. We have no other choice but to become fully conscious of the darker aspects of our own cultural heritage. Only then will we cease to pass them blindly on to future generations. Victims of a devastating trauma may never be the same [again] biologically. It does not matter if it was the incessant terror of combat, torture, repeated abuse in childhood, or a one-time experience.” Dennis S. Charney, M.D., Dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience

As current world events demonstrate, and given the gravity of the situation, there is an urgent need to focus on that which unites humanity rather than that which divides it. To secure our common future more peacefully we need to advance a comprehensive knowledgeable worldview, guided by experience and scholarship and an open, transparent and constructive dialogue that encourages and moves forward the growth of civil society.

PAEP’s transdisciplinary approach of its programs and activities urges young women and men to place the universal values and principles of UNESCO at the core of their mission in life. By correlating the sciences with humanistic learning, the programs encourage youth to realize that their thoughts and actions are an important part of the meaning of this world. PAEP’s initiatives offer an opportunity for young people to share their commitment to building a better future by working for a sustainable world community that can interact more intelligently and rationally within our global home.

Core Issues:
Global socio-political economic conditions

Over half the world’s population live on less than $2 per day while 1.5 billion get by on less than $1 per day. Seventy percent of those living on less than $1 per day are women. In 2003, a World Bank report revealed that 17% of the world’s population consume 80% of the world's resources leaving almost 5 billion people to live on the remaining 20%. As a result, billions of people are living without the very basic necessities of life - food, water, housing and sanitation. In 2006, a groundbreaking and comprehensive report released by the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER) reported that, “The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth.”

Over the next 30 years almost 98 per cent of global population growth is going to take place in developing countries. It is not religion, tribal feuds, irrational acts of states, or poverty that are the root causes for the worldwide growing escalation of radicalism and terrorism, but the rising population of largely poor and desperate young people of the world's population that are drawn into existential, competing conflicts and atrocities. Close to 2 billion children [excluding China] under the age of 15 will reach adulthood in the next 20 years.

What this new generation does will largely determine the future of our planet, and greatly influence how we advance science, knowledge-building, social cohesion and meaningful, substantive democracy. The hazards of youth at risk of exclusion in the developing regions is enormous, no longer threatening a minority but whole sections of society along with our collective destiny.

Key Considerations:

  With the profound transformations our world is undergoing come equally profound changes in how we understand the world. As humanity is in the throes of a transition to a global society, adaptability to global perspectives is essential. Recognizing that we live today in an interconnected world in which biological, environmental, psychological, social and economic phenomena are all interdependent will prove crucial in the new millennium in the education of every person helping assure universal social progress and the vitality of our civilization.

II   Within the process of worldwide transformation and the adjustments to decreasing natural resources, the outdated concepts of acquisitive competition will have to make way for a charted, more secure set of rules, attentive to a vision of the world as a unified and open society, by recognizing the oneness of humankind and protecting its cultural diversities knowledgeably and peacefully in the planning for economic and societal needs that will meet the requirements of the global direction of the future: convergence, co-operation and stabilization and the elimination of global inequalities.

III   Progress in social thought and global bioethics, cultivating humanity, providing meaningful historical, philosophical and ecological reflection toward a greatly enhanced appreciation of planet Earth as a living organism, are of foremost importance. Advancing new knowledge for the restoration and protection of its environment, the preservation of its biodiversity which provides the critical biological wealth (the natural resource through which new sciences are created) for the quality of life, the future well-being of plant, animal and human life and their survival have become crucial.

IV   The development of modern science and technology has an increasing impact on our life and culture. Scientists, technological innovators and entrepreneurs of the 21st century will have to communicate an increased sense of intellectual and moral responsibility for the state of this world and its future. Of all intellectual activity, science, in its civilizing and humanizing role has turned out to have the kind of universality among humans which the times require. Science is far from a perfect instrument of knowledge, but it is the best we have in the field of inquiry that yields knowledge. But science without philosophy, facts without perspective and valuation, cannot save us from wide scale social conflict in both poor and rich nations.

Identifying six encompassing priorities:

  • The biggest challenge now facing humanity and future generations is to ensure that the direction of globalization and the advancement of science, knowledge-sharing, sustainable development and ethics becomes an insightful action: a humanistic force that can equitably provision the world’s people with the ecological goods and services they need to build and maintain their societies.

  • The underlying principle – the future of world civilization – depends largely upon an increased appreciation of cultural diversities, integrating the sustainable, innovative contributions men and women make globally, and by advancing the role of women in the sciences.

  • Militarizing development, research and science and maintaining a permanent arms economy for geopolitical, corporate and private gain has clearly become an unacceptable and economically unsustainable concept. It is very likely that the much needed conversion or the demilitarization of science cultures and institutions will stimulate different directions and content in our knowledge systems. Re-channeling the obsession with violence and misguided militarism, deconstructing the cult of war as an institution in society by teaching and deepening awareness of the collective immaturity, the psychopathology and inhumanity involved through open, transparent and constructive dialogue that can advance instead an education for a sustainable future concerned with ecological integrity and the future of humanity is the better way.

  • Developing an appropriate ethic and advancing moral progress does largely depend upon the growth of scientific, factual knowledge both of human behaviour, mental health (sanity) and human affairs, and of the world in which we live. Resolving environmental issues does not so much involve the need for novel technologies and new legislation as an entire change of collective consciousness.  

  • To build a stronger foundation for our common humanity in the transformation from the production- consumption model of our industrial age to the emerging industrial age of sustainability and interdependence, we must advance not only a scientific-technological, but also an historically informed and environmentally and interculturally educated human resource base.

  • Of vital importance in this process is leading by example in preparing youth for the intellectual, ethical and social responsibilities needed for a deeper understanding of inter-relatedness - to foster greater mutual understanding and respect for cultural diversity, and safeguard indigenous biodiversity knowledge in order to achieve equitable sustainability that can ensure the quality of life and the dignity of future generations.

“War might be avoidable were more emphasis placed on the training to social interest, less on the attainment of egotistical grandeur.” Lydia Sicher, M.D. (1890 – 1962),
Psyciatrist, Editor, Journal of Individual Psychology

“Peace is only possible if men cease to place their happiness in the possession of things “which cannot be shared,” and if they raise themselves to a point where they adopt an absolute principle superior to their egotisms. In other words, it can only be obtained by a betterment of human morality.” Julien Benda (1867-1956)
French Philosopher, Psychologist

“Peace cannot exist without equality; that is an intellectual value desperately in need of reiteration, demonstration, and reinforcement. The terrible conflicts that herd people under falsely unifying rubrics such as 'America,' 'the West' or 'Islam' and invent collective identities for large numbers of individuals who are actually quite diverse, cannot remain as potent as they are, and must be opposed.

We still have at our disposal the rational interpretive skills that are the legacy of humanistic education, not as a sentimental piety enjoining us to return to traditional values or the classics but as the active practice of worldly secular rational discourse."
Edward W. Said (1935-2003) Humanist, Literary Scholar

Sane Thinking in Foreign Policy “A sane foreign policy depends on the sanity of the minds who make and support it. Our defense is as sound as our minds are sane. Most people never question the sanity of thoughts which are shared by millions. Yet it is a peculiar fact that men, who in their private affairs think sanely and act morally, in public affairs seem to be swayed by insane modes of thought and to lose their ordinary moral scruples. Yet errors shared by millions do not become truths, any more than immoral acts approved by millions become virtues.”

Are We Sane? ”The means have become ends. We produce in order to produce; we consume, in order to consume. We talk a lot about freedom, ideals, God—yet the fact is that our main interests are purely material and selfish, that we are in the process of becoming little automatons, each one a little cog in the vast organization machine of production and consumption. Our main interest is to produce things and to consume things—and in the process we ourselves become transformed into things. We make machines which act like men—and we become men who act like machines.” Erich Fromm (1900-1980) Social Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, Humanistic Philosopher

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil. To combat atrocity and tyranny what one must do more than anything else is to think, for absence of thought is indeed a powerful factor in human affairs—statistically speaking the most powerful.”
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) Political Theorist

Man’s Emerging Mind (1955) “. . . so far as the rest of nature is concerned we are like a cancer whose strange cells multiply without restraint, ruthlessly demanding the nourishment that all the body has need of. The analogy is not farfetched for cancer cells no more than whole organisms know when to stop multiplying, and sooner or later the body or the community is starved of support and dies.”
Norman J. Berrill (1903-1996) Biologist, Embryologist, Author

NOTE: The Core Issues, Key Considerations and Observations above, are segments from PAEP’s new series of the Canadian International Youth Letter. They are summary reflections of a continuous survey and ongoing dialogue with international youth, educators and educational institutions concerned with the future of humanity, working for science and reason against the forces of superstition and fundamentalism.

Comment to PAEP/IYNet/GBN: 24 December 2009:
"On behalf of the Director-General of UNESCO, [Irina Bokova] . . . . I wish to congratulate your organization for its work in favour of the protection of World Heritage and the dissemination of UNESCO's values around the world."
Pierre Sané, Assistant Director-General, UNESCO,
Sector for Social and Human Sciences (2001-2010)

On behalf of the Advisory Council of Public Awareness Education Programs (PAEP); the International Youth Network for the Advancement of the Sciences, Humanities and Global Bioethics (IYNet); the Global Bioethics Network (GBN),

Hans F. Schweinsberg, President,
Member of Forum UNESCO,
UNEP, International PEN

A message from the Rt. Hon. Lester B. Pearson and the Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien.

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