PUBLIC AWARENESS EDUCATION PROGRAMS
OF THE SCIENCES & HUMANITIES - TECHNOLOGY & GLOBAL BIOETHICS
of Forum UNESCO
and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Activities & Initiatives
Canadian International Youth Forums (ScienceSpheres)
International Youth Network for the Advancement of the Sciences, Humanities and Global Bioethics (IYNet)
Partners in Education
A Global Perspective
Resources & Links
Canadian & International
Sciences & Humanities
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.
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.
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:
“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)
“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.
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.”
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.”
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 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,
A message from the Rt. Hon. Lester B. Pearson and the Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien.