BOOK OF ABSTRACTS

Photo: Dream world painting by Jacek Yerka  webneel.com

Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative

and

School of Economic Science

Fourth Joint Conference

28 August-1 September 2018

‘OUR SACRED EARTH:

‘Spiritual Ecology, Values-led Economics, Education and Society Responding to Ecological Crisis’

Villa Boccella, Tuscany, Italy

LUCCA

From Oxford 2002 to Lucca 2018: Portrait of a Great Journey for the Common Good

Plater College, Oxford (2002)- St. Petersburg, Russia (2003)- Dubai, UAE (2004)- Nairobi and Kericho, Kenya(2005)- Chaminade University, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA (2006)-Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey (2007)- Trinity College, University of Melbourne, Australia (2008)- Loyola University, Chicago, USA (2009)- California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California, USA (2010)- Alexandrina Bibliotheca, Alexandrina, Egypt (2011—Postponed, due to the Revolution in Egypt)- School of Economic Science, Oxford Campus, Waterperry House, Oxford, UK (2012), Cité universitaire internationale, Paris, France (2013), School of Economic Science, Oxford Campus, Waterperry House, Oxford, UK (2014& 2016), and Villa Boccella, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy (2018)

Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI): Where we connect our intellect with our humanity

Light at the end of the tunnel: The Path to Wisdom- Embracing empathy and kindness and taking action in the Interest of the Common Good

 

Photo: theworldgeography.com

To understand, appreciate, and face the challenges of the contemporary world requires us to focus on life’s big picture. Whether it is war and peace, economics and the environment, justice and injustice, love and hatred, cooperation and competition, common good and selfishness, science and technology,progress and poverty, profit and loss,food and population, energy and water, disease and health, education and family, we need the big picture in order to understand and solve the many pressing problems, large and small, regional or global.

The “Big Picture” is also the context in which we can most productively explore the big perennial questions of life - purpose and meaning, virtues and values.

In order to focus on life’s bigger picture and guided by the principles of hard work, commitment, volunteerism and service; with a great passion for dialogue of cultures, civilisations, religions, ideas and visions, at an international conference in Oxford in 2002 the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) and the GCGI Annual International Conference Series were founded.

We recognise that our socio-economic problems are closely linked to our spiritual problems and vice versa. Moreover, socio-economic justice, peace and harmony will come about only when the essential connection between the spiritual and practical aspects of life is valued. Necessary for this journey is to discover, promote and live for the common good. The principle of the common good reminds us that we are all really responsible for each other – we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers – and must work for social conditions which ensure that every person and every group in society is able to meet their needs and realize their potential. It follows that every group in society must take into account the rights and aspirations of other groups, and the well-being of the whole human family.

One of the greatest challenges of our time is to apply the ideas of the global common good to practical problems and forge common solutions. Translating the contentions of philosophers, spiritual and religious scholars and leaders into agreement between policymakers and nations is the task of statesmen and citizens, a challenge to which Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) adheres. The purpose is not simply talking about the common good, or simply to have a dialogue, but the purpose is to take action, to make the common good and dialogue work for all of us, benefiting us all.

What the GCGI seeks to offer - through its scholarly and research programme, as well as its outreach and dialogue projects - is a vision that positions the quest for economic and social justice, peace and ecological sustainability within the framework of a spiritual consciousness and a practice of open-heartedness, generosity and caring for others. All are thus encouraged by this vision and consciousness to serve the common good.

The GCGI has from the very beginning invited us to move beyond the struggle and confusion of a preoccupied economic and materialistic life to a meaningful and purposeful life of hope and joy, gratitude, compassion, and service for the good of all.

Perhaps our greatest accomplishment has been our ability to bring Globalisation for the Common Good into the common vocabulary and awareness of a greater population along with initiating the necessary discussion as to its meaning and potential in our personal and collective lives.

In short, at Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative we are grateful to be contributing to that vision of a better world, given the goals and objectives that we have been championing since 2002. For that we are most grateful to all our friends and supporters that have made this possible.

GCGI- Annual Conference Series

The Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative Annual Conference Series have ranged far across the world through Oxford-UK, Saint Petersburg- Russia- Dubai- UAE- Nairobi/Kericho- Kenya- Honolulu-USA- Istanbul- Turkey- Melbourne- Australia- Chicago- USA- Thousand Oaks, California-USA, Paris-France and Lucca-Italy. The GCGI conferences have created and continue to create an ever-widening international community of speakers and participants, forging links and establishing dialogues across national, cultural, and religious/spiritual boundaries, and putting into practice the movement’s core philosophy: that globalisation need not be defined merely in terms of impersonal market forces, but can be a power for good, building spiritual bonds that can unite humanity and bring different cultures, faiths and peoples closer together.

These multi/interdisciplinary conferences- each locally organised and funded, most often by regional organisations working in tandem with a university/think-tank/civil society in cooperation with GCGI- have been lively and productive affairs, in which many national, regional and international participants have come together for intense discussions on a spiritual and value-centered vision of globalisation and the common good.

GCGI Annual Conference Series is now recognised as an initiative that has succeeded in establishing a large, vigorous, interdisciplinary, inter-faith, inter-civilisational, inter-cultural and spiritual team of researchers to focus on issues of globalisation, the common good and other related subjects. The expertise of those who have supported the GCGI includes economics, business studies, political science, media studies and journalism, international relations, history, philosophy, sociology, social anthropology, psychology, medicine, geography, environmental studies, mathematics, physics, chemistry, IT, education, development studies, peace and conflict resolution, law, ethics and theology, amongst others.

School of Economic Science: A Brief Introduction

The School of Economic Science (a registered charity, founded in 1937) is a centre for spiritual and practical knowledge and enquiry. Our aim is to help anyone who seeks it to lead a fuller, richer and more useful life and to evolve the spiritual aspects of their being in accordance with natural laws.

This aim is pursued mainly by offering innovative courses in practical, living philosophy inspired by the philosophy of advaita or unity, and economics with justice.

Philosophy and economics are directly related because, ultimately, economic life depends on the philosophy underlying economic systems and on the philosophic culture of the people living and working in an economy.

The School offers a wide range of other courses, inspired by the broad principles of practical philosophy & economics, as well as seminars, workshops, concerts and lectures.

Book of Abstracts - (In Order of Presentation)

 

photo: creativity.trainings.ee 

Keeping Hopefulness Alive: A strategy for Social Justice and Ecology

Dr. Steve Szeghi, Professor of Economic, Wilmington College, USA

Even as the climate change clock ticks and income and wealth inequality continues to ascend, the world has been buffeted in recent years with evermore ominous events.  The election of Donald Trump in the United States, The Brexit vote in the UK, the rise of the Far Right in Eastern Europe and now in Italy, and the increasing authoritarian consolidation of power by Vladimir Putin in Russia, have together made hopefulness for a better world more and more difficult to sustain.

This paper will lay out a strategy for maintaining hopefulness despite the perceived setbacks first on the level of geopolitics and policy. And secondly it will focus upon how individuals can maintain inner peace, sanity, and hopefulness within one’s own person. On the level of Geopolitics and Policy, there are some silver linings in the bad news, namely that much of the bad news is actually due to the inadequacies in terms of social justice and ecology of the neoliberal model.  People have turned to false answers to false messiahs. In addition there remain signs of progress in policy and politics in much of the world. This paper will cite several examples. Finally we may well be experiencing a storm before the calm, the chaos before the cure. The forces of reaction in a desperate bid to maintain a place for ecological destruction and social injustice have huddled together for their final stand. But make no mistake. They will lose. And a better world is coming. 

On the level of the individual person maintaining hopefulness, even more can be done. First, bear in mind that ultimately on the level of geopolitics social justice and ecological consciousness will prevail. Second, joining the struggle for social justice and ecology is in and of itself a victory of the self over hopelessness. And third, “La Lucha Continua”, the struggle goes on and on. We have been born to make this world a better place. Each generation, and each person in every generation, has a contribution to make. What each person has a duty to do, is to do her part. In the fulfillment of one’s own duty to the larger struggle that is where hopefulness is found. There are no permanent victories just as there is no end to the struggle, but still humanity emerges, evolving over time, ever slowly, and painstakingly. The path is ridden with detours, with spur roads, with reversals, but in the totality of time we move forward to greater ecological consciousness, greater equality and social justice. In doing our own individual duty and making our unique contributions to the struggle we become part of a larger intergenerational movement in the totality of time. In that is our hopefulness.

Prof. Pier Luigi Luisi Abstract to follow...

Unheard Invitations: All Life is Calling Us; Calling for Connection, Calling for Help

Our Sacred Earth Panel

Panel Organiser: Susan B. Eirich. Ph.D.

The idea of Oneness or interconnectedness of all life is becoming widely accepted, but it is an abstract idea. What if we grounded it in a vivid, visceral sense so that each of us feel it, know it, in our blood and bones. Revel in it. How might that change our actions? What if we expand our sense of family to truly include all living beings? Include their perspectives, needs, and gifts in our thinking and planning. What would the state of our environment be then?

Three human representatives: one for the animals; one for the plants, and one for Mother Earth, will make vivid to us our connection to all life. Using these heart-based insights, a representative for the human world will discuss ways we can turn them into action, including giving nature the protection and dignity of legal standing.

Presenters:

  1. Piercing the Veil Between Species. Susan B. Eirich. Ph.D.

Abstract: The wild animals are lonely for us. We are lonely for them. We have become disconnected from each other. This needn’t be. There are great riches to be had when we find one another again. Join me for profound stories of human connection with the animals of Earthfire, illustrated by powerful slides.

Susan B. EirichCo-founder of Earthfire Institute, a non-profit wildlife sanctuary and retreat center near Yellowstone National Park, Susan is an inspirational voice for all life. She has lived with rescued wildlife native to the Rocky Mountains of North America for 25 years. With degrees in psychology and biology, she works to bridge scientific and spiritual understandings of wild animals and connections between all life. She has lived and taught around the world, always trying to see through others’ eyes.

Website: www.earthfireinstitute.org

  1. Honoring Our Relations: Plants, Plant Consciousness and Plant Communities. Maya Shetreat, MD

Abstract: Plants are often overlooked in our society, considered a resource for humans to use at best, or a meaningless part of the scenery at worst. Yet despite seemingly being stationary, more and more we are learning that plants live complex lives. We now know that trees in the forest are social beings. They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots. Similarly, there is strong evidence that plants have senses like sight and smell, a domain argued to belong to animals. Indeed, the impression that plants don't do anything but sit there may be the result of time-scale prejudice; we are simply blind to actions that unfold over very long, drawn out, slow time scales. Put the plant on fast forward, in a film, say, and it would become harder to deny that plants can solve problems and act on the basis of what they learn. This talk will explore evidence for plants as sentient and sacred beings.

Maya Shetreat, MD is a neurologist, herbalist, urban farmer, and author of The Dirt Cure: Healthy Food, Healthy Gut, Happy Child (Simon and Schuster, 2016), which has been translated into ten languages. She has been featured in the New York Times, The Telegraph, NPR, Sky News, The Dr. Oz Show and more. ​Dr. Maya​ ​is founder of the Terrain Institute, where she teaches Terrain Medicine™​ and School of Sacred​, earth-based programs for transformational healing of all living organisms. She works and studies with indigenous communities and healers in Ecuador, and is a life-long student of ethnobotany, plant medicine and the sacred. ​

Website: www.drmaya.com

  1. ​​​The Call of Mother Earth. John Thompson, Transformational Psychologist

Abstract: Mother Earth calls us back to the ground of consciousness all has emerged from. In responding to this call we become part of a vast spiritual network many indigenous and wisdom traditions speak of. Our individual and collective knowledge acquired in separation is integrated with existing wisdom, and a dynamic map of a way forward emerges. Transformation of mind, identity and worldview becomes possible, along with the ability to enact solutions. In this talk, I will be sharing information and experience from my work assisting people responding to the call of Mother Earth: the simplicity of reconnection, what Mother Earth offers us beyond food and the material, and what becomes possible when we step into our roles of co-creators with Mother Earth and each other.

John ThompsonDuring an extended period of nature immersion in the 1980’s John responded to Mother Earth’s call to be a voice for ‘those who could not yet hear.’ He went on to study psychology, transformational systems, various wisdom traditions, and continued his exploration of earth connection. His work as a transformational psychologist is directed toward reconnection with Mother Earth and understanding the powerful creative and transformational processes at work. These processes enable us to step into our roles as co-creators with Mother Earth and each other. John points towards a peaceful collaborative pathway for a sustainable and just future.

    Website: www.johnthompsom.com

4-Taking a Stand for the Earth: Legal Rights for Nature. Mumta Ito, Attorney

Abstract: Ecosystems and species are alive. Yet the law treats them as objects separate to us. This has wide-reaching social and economic consequences that drive the environmental crisis. Rights of nature is a game-changing solution that brings fundamental and systemic transformation to our legal and economic system by re-characterizing nature (ecosystems and species) as a subject of the law, with legal personality and tangible rights, that can be defended in court by people. This brings Nature into our legal, economic, social and political decision-making as a powerful stakeholder in its own right, reversing the old paradigm. Integrated across all policy areas, this ensures that economic activity operates to enhance rather than undermine the resilience of ecosystems so that humanity can thrive in harmony with nature. It forms a powerful counterbalance to corporate rights, a viable alternative to the financialization of nature and starts to heal the separation that we have created in the perception of our relationship with nature. In doing so we tackle the root cause of the ecological crisis, save humanity from its own destruction, and secure the fundamental basis of our own right to life by securing the rights of that which gives us life.

Mumta ItoMumta sees law as a vehicle for social transformation in a paradigm of environmental restoration reparation and healing. A former top ranking financial lawyer in the City of London, she represented governments, multinationals and investment banks. Next she set up an NGO to create a people's movement to successfully save an island of global ecological importance and bring about legislative change. She is now the Founder and President of Nature’s Rights an international non-profit organization dedicated to establishing legal personality and rights for ecosystems and other species and transforming our inner and outer relationship with Nature.

Website: www.natures-rights.org

A Question of Prosperity

Anthony Jones

Underlying all economic activity that human beings engage in is the concept of prosperity. Yet, there is little, if any reference in conventional economics to the word “prosperity”. Everyone seeks to be prosperous. In doing so we affect the Planet we live on. Do we give much thought and consideration to this concept? How may we seek prosperity without damaging the source of our subsistence and harming our fellow inhabitants of this planet? What we believe prosperity to be will shape how we act.  This paper will seek to establish a simple, true and useful understanding of this essential concept. It will look at the origin of the word and ask how we may develop this understanding which is needed to deal with the current challenges we face. It uses simple diagrammatical concepts to show how the desire for prosperity may lead us to true freedom and in doing so we may be best equipped to take proper care of the world we live in.   

Anthony Jones has been a student at the School of Economic Science since 1970. He lectures, both in the classroom and worldwide online, in Economics with Justice. He is businessman based in UK, running companies in the Home Improvement Industry and is currently Chairman of the National Federation of Glaziers.

The Intrinsic value of Nature within Regenerative business models

Nel Hofstra

Although companies show much more concern with the environmental problems we are facing today, in our perception of nature we still assume that we as mankind are superior species in the universe. This is translated in the business models of firms.   

It is becoming clearer that nature encompasses far beyond descriptive classifications within biology. And also beyond the scope of the economic discipline in which values are calculated and summated numerically. Nature has a value of its own and for its own sake.

Within this paper it is investigated whether and to what extent the ‘intrinsic value of nature’ is developed within business models and how the ‘intrinsic value’ of nature can be implemented in more regenerative business strategies.

Seen from a transformative learning perspective we can recognize three different stages in the emancipation of species.

Firstly, we see human capacities as thinking and acting beings and as co-creative co-responsible members of societies.

Secondly, we observe and experience the rise of animal right’s movements and the ideas of liberation of animals.

Thirdly, recently new insights developed about the knowledge of plants and trees. This is called the botanic revolution in which flora’s intelligence is assumed and confirmed.  

Some questions might be:

  • How are the intrinsic qualities of non-sentient nature (mountains, wilderness, beauty, diversity) valued?
  • Do animals have intrinsic values?
  • What do we know about the moral values of plants and animals?
  • Does self-consciousness, honesty, intuition and empathy exist within the flora and fauna?
  • ‘Are we smart enough to know how smart we are? ‘

Working through different beliefs and assumptions we will critically reflect on the treatment of the concept of nature within traditional business models and argue for business models that will regenerate and revitalize nature for its own sake.

Nel Hofstra is lecturer entrepreneurship and eco-innovation at the Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands and specifically interested in sustainable and regenerative firms. She is a member of the business ethics faculty of the CEMS – the Global Alliance in Management Education.

What is needed for the UN Development Goals to be Achieved?

Peter Bowman

In 2015 the member nations of the UN adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, a bold set of targets designed to end poverty and ensure prosperity for all whilst at the same time protecting the planet. Dates have been set to achieve the goals in a certain time frame. But what is required for these goals actually to be achieved and not remain just good intentions? Traditionally, the quality or virtue that ensures the right use of materials and talents to achieve success and realise what is of value, which the sustainable development goals certainly aim to enunciate, is something called wisdom. In its absence the best laid plans often lead to failure or at best only achieve partial success often with unintended consequences.

What is this wisdom, in the sense of practical wisdom?  Very simply, it is the capacity to realise what is of value.

How can this be achieved? The method is essentially very simple. It consists in three steps:

  1. Articulate, and improve the articulation of, our problems – as real-life problems of living;
  2. Propose and critically assess possible and actual solutions consulting widely – possible deeds, actions, policies, proposals for action, political programmes, philosophies of life, ways of living;
  3. Enact the solutions.

To illustrate how this application of practical wisdom can work in practice and show how it can bring substantial improvements in people’s lives three examples will be described; firstly, the land reform in East Asia directed by of Wolf Ladejinsky,

secondly the provision of intermediate technology instigated by Fritz Schumacher, thirdly the setting up of the Grameen Bank to provide micro-credit by Muhammad Yunus.

But there is also the question of what inner qualities are required to be able carry out such reforms. These are expounded in the traditional teaching on virtue which has been handed down to us through Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, in the Greek tradition and then in the Christian tradition through St Augustus and St Thomas Aquinas where the virtue of prudentia, or practical wisdom was recognised to be the primary one.

By combining the consideration of the inner qualities that need to be cultivated for wisdom to prevail with their outer expression it is hoped these examples will show what lessons need to be learnt to ensure the UN Development Goals are achieved.

Dr Peter Bowman studied chemistry at Oxford. His professional life has been spent in teaching science. He is now Science Coordinator at the Centre for Languages & International Education at UCL. He also has long standing interests in philosophy and economics and is Head of Economics at the School of Economic Science, a centre for spiritual and practical knowledge offering courses to the public in Practical Philosophy and Economics with Justice.

The Animals Called Me to Council: The Birth of Earthfire Institute

Susan B. Eirich, PhD

It was all the fault of 7 wolf puppies. I was invited to help care for them. Bottle feeding them; nursing them when they fell desperately ill, I fell in love. That changed everything. It was the kind of passionate committed love that a parent feels for a newborn child.

I was helpless before it. I had to do right by them. Then, because they opened me to the wonder of wolves, I had to do right by their kind. As I was invited to care for bears, cougars, lynx, bison, deer and more, I found myself falling in love each time anew! My feelings responded of their own volition. Bemused, I would watch them rising from within, surprised at their intensity. From where did they come? I was falling in love with so many different creatures, so different from my own species. What was the common ground that my body recognized?

As my awareness expanded I realized I had to do right by all Life. Falling in love deeply opens channels through which all kinds of information can flow and I saw each living being; plant, tree, animal, as a source of wonder if only I was able to connect with each on its own terms.

Once I was touched by it, saw it, felt it, then I had to fight for the beloved, protect it, take action. If I didn’t it felt like I would have betrayed my very soul. In 2000 I founded Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary, a multi-species endeavor. It has been a profound difficult joyous journey since then, that continues; each day, week, year is a delight, a trouble and an amazement. An ever-increasing awakening. A microcosm, I believe, of our human journey.

But really the story of Earthfire is simply a story of love.

Susan B. Eirich, PhD, Co-founder of Earthfire Institute, a non-profit wildlife sanctuary and retreat center near Yellowstone National Park, Susan is an inspirational voice for all life. She has lived with rescued wildlife native to the Rocky Mountains of North America for 25 years. With degrees in psychology and biology, she works to bridge scientific and spiritual understandings of wild animals and connections between all life. She has lived and taught around the world, always trying to see through others’ eyes.

On the ground with Earth School

Patricia Walsh-Collins

Children hold within them and have ready access to their spiritual DNA, inner knowing, and innate sense of connection to all life. As the years ensue, society works to separate us from our natural relationships and thus, our inner selves. Art of Spirit’s Earth School is a counterbalance to these efforts of separation.

Earth School is a mindful, integrative, self-discovery of the natural world, serving to reconnect and nurture our original Earth relationships.

This deep, multi-layered, holistic, experience encourages children to recognize and embrace, their own inner nature, by returning them to their original relationship with Mother Earth and her many wisdom keepers.

Children, learn about elemental and animal teachings through specifically themed activities and experiences. We also release time,  inviting children to wander, wonder, and heal. Experiences are processed through creative, integrated art projects.

Our programs are a blend of the physical and metaphysical aspects of the natural world and thus include spiritual teachings (not religion) earth studies, art, and energy work. We work with singing bowls, meditation, tadpoles, forests, crystals, streams, trees, and silence.

Earth School’s roots exists as a children’s summer camp, but can also be experienced through home school and weekend programs, expanding into adult programs. Earth School is the seed of a larger educational idea, holistically teaching to ones cognitive, emotional and spiritual intelligence, as we reconnect to Mother Earth.

Website –www.earthschoolforkids.com

Patricia Walsh-Collins is an educational entrepreneur residing in Pennsylvania, USA. She is a professional educator with a twenty-four year career, primarily teaching Visual Arts and World Religions. Taking a leap of faith from her full time teaching position, Patricia created Art of Spirit Inc. under which she educates through various formats such as trade, public speaking, writing, and Earth School. Patricia writes a newspaper column and blog called ‘Shared Teachings’.

Spiritual Ecology Youth Fellowship: Integrating spiritual values with practical action

Amrita Bhohi

Over the past two years, St Ethelburga’s Centre in partnership with Kalliopeia Foundation has developed the pioneering Spiritual Ecology Fellowship Programme. The programme brings together the next generation of leaders and emerging voices from a diverse range of fields, to develop and pilot practical projects to build a future rooted in universal spiritual values.

Young people want practical action

The programme was initiated to meet a need that emerged from the publication of the book by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, ‘Spiritual Ecology: The cry of the Earth’. The author received many responses from the younger generation asking the question; ‘what can I do?’. The impulse in younger generations to bring together ideas with action, and to bring spirituality beyond the personal - into practical application in the world, is something we have frequently encountered. Many young people have an intuitive understanding of the worldview of interconnectedness, having grown up in a much more globalised and interconnected world. Exposure to spirituality and different traditions and practices has also brought much more awareness of the spiritual dimension to the current crises. However, moving beyond ideas, the calling to put these values into practice is strong. How to harness this energy, vision and passion for change, and to nurture the seeds of long term practical impact and influence - was the core purpose of the Spiritual Ecology Fellowship Programme.

Leadership and project development

The programme was designed to bring together the worldview and principles of spiritual ecology with practical project application. In 2017 we completed our first fellowship programme which brought together ten emerging young leaders (aged between 22 - 35), from across the UK and Europe. Each participant was supported to develop and deliver a small pilot project that integrated Spiritual Ecology, working with a specific community of their choice. The backgrounds and faith/spiritual traditions of the group were diverse including; Sufi Muslims, Zen Buddhists and Indigenous spirituality. Some examples of the projects created were; A full day conference on the theme of Farming as a Sacred Act; a retreat for young Muslim women to explore Islamic environmentalism; a retreat on the theme of ‘Rewilding Spirituality’ and the start of a spiritual ecology garden at a Buddhist Zen Centre in Brussels.

Our success and what we’ve learnt

The inner and outer steps taken by participants has been a privilege to witness and wonderful to support. The experience was described as ‘life-changing’ by a significant number of the group. The value of becoming part of a community of practice, rooted in spiritual values, was evident in strong relationships developing quickly, and a sense of confidence and conviction in Spiritual Ecology, and in their own work, that flourished in the group. The commitment to put their ideas into practice and to deliver something within the nine month programme, was for many a healthy challenge in progressing ideas into action and testing out new ideas within a supportive and inspiring frame. The potential of the young leaders and the projects generated from the programme has lead to phase two of the programme where we are now investing further by providing seed funding and other organisational support to five out of ten of their projects. The long term impact of the programme is exciting to see, and we’re looking forward to seeing what emerges over the coming year.

Amrita Bhohi's passion is working with emerging young leaders and visionaries who are in service to bringing forth a future based on values of interconnectedness and reverence for all life. She works at St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in London, where over the past two years she has helped to launch and embed young adult leadership programmes as part of the Centre’s new strategic focus. Amrita currently leads on the Spiritual Ecology area of work, which includes hosting and facilitating a series of public workshops and events. She co-ordinates the Spiritual Ecology Youth Programme, which brings together ten young leaders to explore how spiritual values can be united with practical project development to create social and environmental action for lasting change.

Amrita previously worked on the global Eradicating Ecocide campaign and at the think tank, The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). In 2013 she organised TEDxWhitechapel, one of the most popular and radical TEDx events in London. She holds a BSc in Biomedical Sciences from King's College, and an MA in Economics for Transition from Schumacher College. Her broader interests lie in new economics, systems change, and social and environmental regeneration. She is a fellow of St Paul’s Institute.

Contemplative Vision and Prophetic Action

Revd. Dr. Canon Alan Race

This presentation takes as its starting-point the view that our ecological crisis is at root a spiritual and values crisis. It is insufficient to tackle the problems of biological degradation, species loss and environmental damage, including climate change, along instrumental lines only. The earth has intrinsic (sacred) value beyond the human appreciation and economic interaction with it. In order to reverse our sense of alienation from the earth or views which imagine the earth in exploitative terms only, a combination of spiritual and practical approaches are needed. I term these ‘contemplative vision’ and ‘prophetic action’. Whilst these approaches are often thought to be in contrast, springing as they do from very different world religious frameworks, the presentation argues that they are more resonant with one another than is often first envisaged. Contemplative vision I associate with interconnectedness, mutuality and a goal of oneness at the level of fundamental being, and prophetic action with the stimulus towards critical/radical ethical confrontation with economic and political powers when these serve ends purely for their own benefit. We need to ‘see’ the world for what it is and ‘act’ within it accordingly. In another frame one could call this science and religion valuing their complementarity.

Revd. Canon Dr. Alan Race, retired Anglican priest and the Editor for World Congress of Faiths’ journal, Interreligious Insight, UK.

MAKING PEACE WITH THE EARTH:

THE MANY CHALLENGES OF THE ANTHROPOCENE AGE

Revd. Dr. Linda Groff

Presentation covers many crises facing the Earth; possible solutions; and how peace with the Earth is part of a 21st century holistic, vision of peace. Earth Crises include: advent of the Anthropocene Age, characterized by human dominance of Earth; population explosion in a world of finite world resources; water quality issues; dangers of global warming and climate change; a needed shift from non-renewable to renewable energy sources; and threats to biodiversity and the Sixth Mass Extinction of Species.  Possible Solutions include: the Paris Climate Change Agreement, Dec. 2015; UN Sustainable Development Goals, 2015-2030, following 8 UN Development Goals, 2000-2015; and a needed shift to green technologies & lifestyles, and to dynamic, interdependent, complex, whole systems thinking. Concludes with peace with Earth as a vital part of a holistic, evolving view of peace. 

Rev. Dr. Linda Groff is an Interfaith Minister; Emeritus Professor, Calif. State University, and author, 85+ articles with books forthcoming in futures/evolution, peace/nonviolence, intercultural/interfaith, and spiritual/consciousness areas. www.lindagroff.net

Commoning, as fundamental economic logic

Tamas Veress

The Anthropocene calls for a radical shift in the way we organize our economic activities. The downsizing of the welfare state, the 2008 financial meltdown in the North and the extractive policies, the volatile commodity prices in the South are all symptoms of the same systemic crisis; they are the consequences of exerted  pressure coming from the anthropocentric, utility maximizing economic logic. The devastating ecological, social and cultural effects of the system's malfunction brought to life several transition initiatives across the globe. The commons - at once a paradigm, a movement, an ethic, and a set of social practices - is one form of such transition initiatives, seeking to reverse the market enclosures and achieve effective social control of abusive, unsustainable market behavior.

The commons are self-organized around resources, although themselves are more than a resource - but a community that nurtures the resource by establishing and enforcing its own rules, traditions, and values through commoning. The logic of the commons can be recognized for instance in the open access intellectual properties, in the setting of community supported agriculture, in peer-to-peer produced open-source software, in community owned fabrication labs for cooperative manufacturing, in the institution of the unconditional basic income, in eco-villages and transition-towns. Commons are created and cared for through acts of mutual support, conflict, negotiation, communication and experimentation that are needed for communities to manage their shared resources. Commoning expands the personal agency of "employee, consumer, citizen, voter" and introduces people to new social roles that embody wholesome cultural values and entail both responsibility and entitlement. The criteria of success in the commons is the well-being of all stakeholders (including non-human life), they are governed through voluntary participation, operating by reciprocity and sharing in order to create substantive value. Therefore, the commons approach has the potential to serve as a framework - parallel with other transition initiatives - in response to current ecological, cultural and social crisis.    

Tamas Veress is a PhD student of the Business Ethics Center at the Corvinus University of Budapest. He is involved in community building activities and self-awareness, life-path planning workshops directed towards high school students, young adults and teachers.

Evolution not Revolution

John Thompson

My work is assisting people to transition from ‘mechanical mind’ to ‘process mind’ for Mother Earth connection, meaningful relationships, transformational opportunity and co-creative ability. I do this via seminars, nature emersion events and working directly with transformational processes in groups. In this work I have witnessed individual and collective stories change dramatically and I have been unable to ignore how powerful story is.  With it we shape our reality and direct our future.

The inherited story that most people show up with is one of individualism and the importance of identity, the superiority of the rational conscious mind, and the value of expertise and personal power. This has resulted in separation from Mother Earth, our nature family, each other; and ‘power over’ control structures with catastrophic consequences. Within this story people struggle to find tangible solutions for the predicament we are in. To use the strategies of power, control and manipulation for change is more of the same and results in destructive internal conflict - collectively and individually. It seems we cannot think our way to appropriate enacted solution from within the mind that has created the problems.

When people reconnect and transition to process mind they experience meaningful spiritual relationships with all things, and their world view begins to transform with new stories emerging.  They way to access interconnected natural mind beyond the rational mind is revealed, vast wisdom is made available, evolution of mind and consciousness are apparent, transformational pathways for solution become visible, and they are invited to step into their role as co-creators with Mother Earth and each other to bring about the new. These stories are soon recognised to have a good deal in common with wisdom stories told and lived by many indigenous cultures for thousands of years. The integration of new knowledge with ancient wisdom reveals much.

In this talk I will share the story of my journey into this work following an extended period of nature immersion in the 1980’s and unexpected connection with Mother Earth, and what I have come to know as my nature family. I will share how this work is progressing, and the exploration of process mind and how it enables solution. As with any story there will be time for questions, discussion, and contribution.

John Thompson: During an extended period of nature immersion in the 1980’s John responded to Mother Earth’s call to be a voice for ‘those who could not yet hear’. He went on to study psychology, transformational systems, various wisdom traditions, and continued his exploration of earth connection. His work as a transformational psychologist is directed toward reconnection with Mother Earth and understanding the powerful creative and transformational processes at work. These processes enable us to step into our roles as co-creators with Mother Earth and each other.  John points towards a peaceful collaborative pathway for a sustainable and just future. www.johnthompsom.com.au

FOR THE LOVE OF HUMANITY…

From straight lines to circles: prosperity and freedom without exploitation or misuse of people or planet

Ian Mason

There is a wealth of evidence and literature cataloging the destructive effect of contemporary economic practices on both this beautiful planet and many of the people and species that live here. It is also evident that understanding of economics in theory and practice has failed to keep pace with the urgent needs of our time, technological advance and changing expectations. Mere change is not enough. What is needed is transformation: a transformation of mind from the mechanistic straight-line thinking from resource to profit of contemporary economics into the organic circular flows that offer prosperous well-being in harmony with nature. This paper explains some of the essential changes of mind and values that can transform economics into the science of prosperity and well-being for the common good that it can and should be.

Ian Mason, Barrister, Principal of the School of Economic Science, UK

Looking into Practical Solutions to End Poverty: Is this a Pipedream or the Essential Element of a Sustainable and Harmonious World?

Jamshid Damooei

This paper takes a brief and piercing look into a number of pivotal issues concerning the poverty, its causes, its impact on individuals and households living in poverty, its economic costs, and ways of reducing or eliminating it within a foreseeable future. Individuals and families in poverty have to deal not only with the pain of their predicament, but are often subject to shaming and being accused of creating their own downfall. Children in poverty miss the opportunity of a normal physical and emotional development in their childhood, which often results in being held back in their educational progress and far more likely to suffer from lack of social mobility in older age. Life expectancy is negatively correlated with level of poverty and people in poverty are more likely to be victim of crimes.

The paper starts with the old ideas of poverty and move forward towards supporting a meaningful understanding of this phenomenon. It examines a number of philosophical characterization of poverty and its continuation over time and despite of vast improvements in economic growth in many countries. This study pays close attention to the “capability deprivation” argument in the study of poverty and looks into policy implication of such understanding in national and global setting. It uses a rigorous theoretical foundation and attempts to underline the direct and indirect cost of poverty. It puts forward a series of practical steps that need to be taken in order to overcome this obstacle for the future generation.  

Jamshid Damooei is Professor of Economics and Chair of the Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, Interim Director of Master of Public Policy and Administration Program and Director of the Center for the Study of Economics of Social Issues at California Lutheran University, USA.

New categories for a sustainable and spiritual-based company: insights from the Economy of Communion

Mara. Del Baldo

The experiences of Civil Economy are the seeds of a new humanism, which feeds a new ethos of the market and contribute to building a new economic anthropology. This “rediscovered” economic current concerns a vast archipelago of social, civic, political and economic institutions that carry out different activities in a number of fields: social welfare, health, education, environment, and business. Altogether, these institutions form a new composite reality, which is the bearer of an economy on a human scale, suitable to both enterprise and family (Bruni and Zamagni 2004). This movement includes the EoC companies, as well as many experiences in the world of cooperation and the non-profit sector, the ethical banks, the microcredit, the fair trade, the joint purchasing groups and NGOs. All of these actors are united by carrying on a different and much broader vision of the economy, which is not only conceived as a place of self-interest and for pursuing profit, but in addition as a chance to meet people and to participate in activities inspired by solidarity and fraternity, as well as to fight poverty. Accordingly, such a vision involves collective contribution to the common good which presupposes the genuine responsibility people and organizations have in regard to integral development (Bouckaert, Opdebeeck, & Zsolnai, 2007; Ketola, 2008; Sorci, 2007; Zsolnai, 2015).In addition, this vision requires the recognition of a spiritual dimension of the enterprise.

The experience of Economy of Communion (EoC) enterprises was initiated in Brazil in 1991 from the charisma of Chiara Lubich, the founder of the “Focolare Movement“ (Lubich, 2001) to solve poverty problems near the São Paulo area, and now it has developed all over the World. For an appraisal of the phenomenon as a whole, different statistical investigations have been carried out by scholars in various fields (Gold, 2010; Callebaout, 2010). Since the project started, it gradually took root throughout the various areas of the world and was held under observation by many scholars, who, initially, were only economists (Bruni, 1999). Later on, scholars from almost every discipline joined them (Baldarelli, 2006; Argiolas, 2009; Gold, 2010) and the various interdisciplinary publications on this subject matter bear witness to this (Bruni & Pelligra, 2002; Bruni & Crivelli, 2004; Bruni & Uelmen, 2006; Baldarelli & Del Baldo, 2015).

Starting from this premise the papers aims  to analyse: 1) how the spiritual-driven inspiring principles that characterize the EoC companies influence their mission, governance and accountability and 2) how the same principles drive EoC enterprises toward a strong  sustainability approach aimed to promote the world fraternity.

After presenting the theoretical framework and depicting/introducing the pillars of EoC companies (universal fraternity, communion and the culture of giving) which derived from the charisma of the founder (Chiara Lubich), who transformed and forged their mission, governance and accountability. paper will address attention on a case-study relative to an Italian EoC company in order to analyse and discuss how the aforementioned pillars are “operationalised” and implemented in the past and current daily choices and activities. The reflections emerged from the analysis provide useful insights on how a spiritual-driven approach can foster both economic, social, spiritual development of people inside and outside the company and contribute to shed light on new (and old) possible approach to integral development, both in theory and practice.

Mara Del Baldo is Associate Professor of: Financial Accounting; Entrepreneurship and small business management;  and Economics of Sustainability and Accountability at the University of Urbino, Department of Economics, Society and Politics (Italy). She is a member of the European Council for Small Business, the Centre for Social and Environmental Accounting Research, the SPES Forum, the  Global Corporate Governance Institute and the European Business Ethics Network, among others. She is editorial board member and reviewer of various international scientific journals. She has published in Accounting History, Meditari Accountancy Research, European Journal of International Management, International Journal of Social Ecology and Sustainable Development, International Journal  Society Systems Science, Journal of Management and Governance, International Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility, among others. She authored several scientific publications, including articles, book chapters and conference proceedings. She lectured on invitation in various Italian and foreign universities.

Future Earth, Spirituality and Economics

Laszlo Zsolnai

The paper presents Future Earth, a major international research platform providing the knowledge and support to accelerate transformations to a sustainable world. Launched in 2015, Future Earth is a 10-year initiative to advance global sustainability, build capacity in this rapidly expanding area of research and provide an international agenda to guide natural and social scientists working around the world.

The main departure point is the new reality of the Anthropocene, where humanity is altering the biogeochemistry of the planet itself, destabilizing climate and influencing co-evolution at the planetary level. Human perturbation already overcomes four of the nine planetary boundaries (climate change, biosphere integrity, biogeochemical flows, and land system change).

Business (including finance) is the definitive player in the Anthropocene and is mainly responsible for the degrading state of the biosphere. The key problem is the nature, form and scale of business operations. The operating models of today’s mainstream business and financial institutions do not fit in the reality of the biosphere. Business models vary but almost none of them are consistent with the flourishing life on Earth (including human, non-human and future life).

The paper argues that without Earth-respecting spiritual approaches like Integral Ecology it is hardly possible to achieve a sustainable Human-Earth system which requires frugal consumption and production as well as the acknowledgement of the intrinsic value of nature.

Laszlo Zsolnai is professor and director of the Business Ethics Center at the Corvinus University of Budapest. He is president of the European SPES Institute in Leuven, Belgium and co-chair of Future Earth Finance and Economics Knowledge-Action Network in Montreal, Canada. He has been guest professor or visiting scholar at University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, UC Berkeley, Georgetown University, and University of Richmond.

Earth Constellations

Mumta Ito

“Constellations are morphic fields in action” - biologist Rupert Sheldrake

Have you ever longed to experience yourself as one with all of life? Have you ever wished that we can undo the past and radically change the future by taking some simple action in the present that reconfigures the morphogenic field and creates a new reality for humanity going forward - as if by magic?

If so, this experiential workshop is for you. Earth Constellations are a profound methodology that:

  1. Uncovers the hidden dynamics that keep us locked into destructive patterns and reveal pathways for individual and collective resolution on defined issues
  2. Gives experiential insight into our present condition from a non-linear perspective
  3. Increases empathy, compassion and understanding
  4. Radically reconnects us with the embodied experience of “being Nature”

When we heal our past and experience our interconnectedness with all of life we begin to operate from a different set of perceptions and values. Earth Constellations are exciting and useful because they address the ecological crisis in a new way - through resolving our collective trauma and fast tracking our reconnection with Nature to create a new and exciting vision for the future - in harmony with all life.

Mumta Ito: Mumta sees law as a vehicle for social transformation in a paradigm of environmental restoration reparation and healing. A former top ranking financial lawyer in the City of London, she represented governments, multinationals and investment banks. Next she set up an NGO to create a people's movement to successfully save an island of global ecological importance and bring about legislative change. She is now the Founder and President of Nature’s Rights an international non-profit organization dedicated to establishing legal personality and rights for ecosystems and other species and transforming our inner and outer relationship with Nature.

Website: www.natures-rights.org

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