Educating for a Bright Future
A Global Neohumanist Education Conference
Salorno, Italia July 12-17th, 2019
The Global Association of Neohumanist Educators (GANE) partnered with several affiliated organizations, (AMGK, AMAYE, and PRSI ) to bring together over a hundred leading neohumanist educators from twenty five countries in order to deliberate on the theme: Educating for a Bright Future. The gathering was filled with sweetness and uplifting, inclusive ideas and further enriched by the beautiful Dolomite Mountains of Italy.
The Mayor of Salorno, at their community hall, inaugurated the program with a beautiful film highlighting the attractions of the Dolomites and the Salorno area. Dr. Shambhushivananda gave a welcoming speech and pointed everyone’s attention to four critical challenges facing humanity: Climate Change; Widening Disparities; Technological Innovations and Leadership issues. “These challenges open up new opportunities for educators”, he said. Neohumanism provides an optimistic response to deal with the problems and issues emanating from the global crises. The speakers were introduced by Christian Franceschini and Cristina Terribile, the leading local organizers, hosts, and translators, who warmly welcomed all to Italy.
The plenary sessions every morning were theme based and given by experts in their fields. Links to the videos of these presentations are available by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Summaries of each day’s plenaries follow:
Day 1 of the plenary sessions explored Neohumanist Responses to Global Challenges. What are the values and new ways of thinking needed to bring about the paradigm shift we now know is necessary for creating a bright future?
Amal Jacobson spoke on: Neohumanism: Embodying Knowledge for a Better Tomorrow. This plenary explored what it means to embody and enact Neohumanism. A new world demands a new worldview, but if such a worldview is to be more than just theoretical, then it must be lived and embodied. Neohumanism is unique as such a heart-centered philosophy. Rather than being a mere intellectual construct, it’s a roadmap for how to live and love fiercely for universal welfare. Far from being a one-size-fits-all approach, Neohumanism is a deeply personal and ultimately a spiritual journey. By re-imagining the human, Neohumanism challenges each of us to re-imagine ourselves, along with our ultimate place in a mutually-enhancing world.
Kathleen Kesson spoke on: A Philosophy of Education for the Anthropocene. This talk outlined the contours of a philosophy and practice of education equal to the immense task before us. We have entered a new era in human existence, the Anthropocene, signifying a growing awareness that we are in a phase of planetary development in which human impacts on the earth may cause or have caused irreversible damage. How do we assist the shift from Doomsday scenarios towards a future in which “Neohumanism will elevate humanism to universalism, the cult of love for all created beings of this universe?”(Shrii P.R. Sarkar). Education is a primary vehicle for cultivating the “new human”, persons who embrace this love of all created beings and align their actions with such deeply felt convictions. An adapted version of her talk is included in this issue of Gurukula Network.
Day 2 of the plenary sessions explored: Developing Inner Resources to Prepare for an Unknown Future. How can we build the inner resources and ecological wisdom of students and teachers to prepare for a rapidly changing world and unpredictable future?
Eric Jacobson spoke on Neohumanism: from Micro to Macro and explored the following questions:
How did we get here? What is a human being? What is human nature? How do we define our progress as a species? How does education look under the influence of Neohumanism? What are the three main pathways for neohumanist educators to follow? How does environmental science look now? How does it overlap with ethics? How it is guided by principles? What is best practice? Notes from his talk are included in this issue of Gurukula Network.
Didi Ananda Devapriya spoke on Reflective Teachers, Reflective Learners: Weaving permaculture principles into curriculum to develop neohumanist consciousness. Permaculture at its core is a set of ethics and principles applied dynamically to daily decision making. Didi Ananda Devapriya was one of the three co-authors of the Children in Permaculture teachers manual “Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share in Education” published by the project. Given the great and urgent need in modern society for a fundamental shift in how we relate to our natural world and each other, she explored how education can provide a pathway to accelerate the understanding and application of permaculture principles by mainstream society. She also shared tools that she helped to develop in the CIP project, showing how the CIP materials can be used to lead towards developing Neohumanist “awakened conscience” in children and teachers. An article on this topic was included in the last issue of Gurukula Network.
Day 3 of the plenary sessions explored: Integrating Science, Spirituality and the Arts. What role can spirituality and the arts play as vehicles of transcendence, social cohesion, and ecological wisdom in education?
Sucharit Katyal spoke on Recent developments and future directions in the science of shaping and refining human experience. At the core of Neohumanist Education is the idea that human experience and the living world are in an inherently synthetic relationship with each other. Here the world and experience are synthetic not only in their interconnected sense, but also in the sense of progressing towards more synthesis through gradual refinement of body and mind by means of spiritual practices. While Shrii P. R. Sarkar, the founder of Neohumanism and Neohumanist Education, presented these ideas at least four decades ago, recent progress in human scientific disciplines is propelling these ideas into mainstream via education research, and, in turn, public policy. Sucharit gave a basic introduction to the two disciplines of cognitive science and phenomenology and their current state of the art, as well as sharing his ongoing work on cognitive and experiential refinement through meditation, in order to provide educators with new tools and concepts for thinking about the shaping and refining of human experience for a bright future.
Christian Franceschini spoke on Bringing Rationalistic Spirituality into Public Schools in South Tyrol. We are living in an era of science, and thus in many countries, education has become entirely secular. While the separation of church and state in education has encouraged greater intellectual freedom in positive ways, at the same time materialist values have become dominant and the cultivation of subtler human potentiality is often largely neglected. The eight elements of Astaunga Yoga offers a complete set of systematic and practical tools for holistic human development, and is based on a rationalistic, rather than religious, approach to spirituality. More than just yoga positions, Astaunga Yoga also includes universal moral values, developing and refining concentration, and expanding the heart with love. Christian Franceschinii shared his wealth of experience in bringing Astaunga Yoga practices into the public school system of South Tyrol, Italy, over the past 20 years. He also shared the project “Yogasofia” which is already active in preparing educational strategies that bring the very efficient, effective tools of Astaunga Yoga into public schools.
Didi Anandarama spoke on Shrii PR Sarkar’s Aesthetics of Life. “Beyond the periphery of material mobility, there is the world of aesthetics.” According to Shrii PR Sarkar all beings have their intrinsic sense and drive of creative expression and longing for perfect balance in the physical, psychic and psycho-spiritual realm. In her presentation, she explored the following questions: What are the aesthetic avenues that have been offered to humanity so far? How can we help and contribute in supporting this inherent aesthetic characteristic expression in individual and collective life?
Day 4 of the plenary sessions explored: New narratives and alternative visions. How can we generate new narratives and visions that lead us towards positive futures?
Satya Tanner led the program: From Theory to Policymaking: Gaming Neohumanism. This plenary was conducted in an interactive gaming style, so that insights were co-created and emerged from group discussion. The intended conclusion was that an embodied understanding of neohumanist policy, and a greater and deeper understanding of contending global narratives and the possibility of a planetary shift toward neohumanistic futures. The presentation was in four parts, starting with how the world is changing (hegemonic shifts, technological disruptions, ageing, climate change, the new technologies of the mind, and the rise of global fascism). Second, the group explored the implications of these shifts for neohumanism. Third, they created a neohumanist checklist, as a way to decide what Neohumanism is and what it is not. And fourth the checklist was used to explore policy proposals from the floor. A summary of the program is included in this issue of Gurukula Network.
Fiesta Neohumanista – Showcase of Neohumanist Projects
A highlight of the conference was the Fiesta Neohumanista – a global showcase and networking session for everyone. The showcase included schools, institutes, children’s yoga programs, master units, development projects and more. For details please visit and go to Showcase of Projects under the Educating for a Bright Future events page. Many beautiful interactions took place during this time among the participants.
Workshops, Meetings and Evening Programs
Afternoons were devoted to many workshops, listed here below, to cater to the needs of all participants, as well as meetings for various working groups. Two nights were devoted to cultural evenings.
- Neohumanist Charter with Dieter Dambiec
- Decolonizing Education with Dr. Kathleen Kesson and Suzanne Richman
- Preparing Children for an Unknown Future with Yolande Koning
- The Balyayoga ® Method – Yoga for Children and The importance of the Inner Child for Kids and Educators with Barbara Ladisa and Gianni Zollo
- Yogasofia© workshop with practical experience with sound, and, Illustrated Literature for Self-Knowledge and Awareness with Alexia Martinelli and Salvatore Ingargiola
- Cultivating a Cosmopolitan Global Citizenship in Taiwan’s Teacher Education Center with Teng Huang
- Teaching from Presence: Staying heart centered and supported while working in schools/organizations with challenging circumstances and communities with Linda Baker
- The Pre-Conditions of Creativity and the Joy of Fantasy, and, Theater in Education with Vishva Shanti Ole Brekke
- Introduction to Meditation, Asanas and Yogic Lifestyle Class with Christian Franceschini and Cristina Terribile.
- Sharing Neohumanist Education Curriculum Projects Around the World – Networking Workshop with Rutger Tamminga and Mahajyoti Glassman
- Validation of Whole Person Education using Open Badges the iCAFS Way with Andrew Langford and Alejandra Leora Adler
- River School – Neohumanism in Action with Ann Donoghoe
- Linking Relief and Rehabilitation to Development with KL Chew
- The Koshas of Asana, and, A Yogic Approach to Anxiety with Dada Vishvarupananda and Sumati Brekke.
- Teaching Meditation to Children with Eric Jacobson and Amal Jacobson
- Group Dynamics Model for Moving Together: Group Process to Enhance Coordinated Cooperation in Accomplishing Our Goals with Sid Jordan and Monika Misiowiec
- Cooperative Games With Ed Glassman
- New Day School – Evolution of a Green School with Ruai Gregory
- Amazing Kids – Storytelling for Conflict Resolution with Teenagers with Rutger Tamminga
- Adult Education Trends and Best Practices with Satya Tanner
- Awareness through Movement with Elly van Musscher
More workshop details can be found at: neohumanisteducation.org
Our Hosts and Staff
About twenty Italian local volunteers of the Neohumanist Academy prepared delicious meals and provided local logistical support for the conference. Many others also worked behind the scenes to make the conference a success.
Closing and After Conference
The conference ended with a special closing ceremony honoring all participants, organizers and presenters. The conference was followed by a strategic planning meeting which consolidated steps forward to accelerate the growth of the Neohumanist Education movement, and a visit to a Mountain Lake in Molveno.