Report by Kalyanii KL Chew on a Foresight Planning Workshop conducted by Sohail Inayatullah for the Gurukula Team
As 2021 draws to a close, what can we look forward to in 2022?
We know for sure that we do not want more of the same. The coronavirus pandemic is not yet over, the potential for further variants and the continuing high death toll are unfortunately very real. The world is not yet able to cooperate to beat the pandemic. Climate disaster is looming over us. COP26 ended with some progress but nowhere near enough to avoid climate collapse. Geo-political tensions are ratcheting up as the global balance of power realigns as the US declines amidst internal division, European struggles with internal and external issues, and China continues to rise economically and geo-politically. Wealth inequality is accelerating at an unacceptable pace. While the UN fears that the pandemic crisis could increase global poverty by 500 million people to 1.2 billion people (including one in five children), the same crisis has increased the wealth of 2,189 billionaires to USD10.2 trillion. As technological advancement marches ahead, social media unchecked by ethical guard rails is increasingly damaging the mental health of the world’s population, most tragically among the young. The escalating domination of artificial intelligence threatens widespread job loss on an epidemic scale. What would it take for human society to transcend the existential crises we face today? What kind of values, perspectives, knowledge, and approaches would enable human beings to forge a path forward? Is a sustainable, peaceful, and enriching quality of life for the maximum number of people, animals, plants, and all living and non-living beings an impossible dream? Can a spiritually infused ideology / philosophy be the game changer?
At a recent workshop facilitated by Professor Sohail Inayatullah, UNESCO Chair in Futures Studies and founder of educational think tank Metafuture, our Gurukula team explored these questions and looked at alternative futures scenarios. Our conclusion: Neohumanism can provide solutions to the multiple crises threatening the continued well-being of our planet, and Gurukula has an important role to play in laying the groundwork for the transition to a thriving biosphere.
How can Gurukula take on the challenges of the ambitious program we have set for ourselves?
Through a CLA (Causal Layered Analysis) exercise we derived the four levels of causality that will provide the foundation for a transformed Gurukula. The analysis presented below shows how Neohumanism provides the Values and Mindset to move beyond a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world.
Foresight Planning Workshop Process
In the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world we face today, institutional and organizational planning based on the rational-analysis of historical and current data is no longer adequate. In the workshop for the Gurukula team, Professor Sohail Inayatullah led us through a 7 Step Question Process to map out the way ahead. This was followed by two more questions in a second session. They are:
Question 1: What is impossible today, but if we have it, would change everything?
Question 2: The Used Future (what baggage do we have to let go of?)
Question 3A: Emerging Issues (the Disruptions Ahead)
Question 3B: Implications of Selected Emerging Issue
Question 4: What does Gurukula look like in 2031? – 4 Alternative Futures
Question 5: Gurukula’s Preferred Future and Backcasting (Steps that got you there)
Question 6: Metaphor
Question 7: What is the Causal Layered Analysis (CLA)?
Question 8: The Disowned Future (what are our blind spots)
Question 9: The Integrated Future (putting it all together to move forward)
The workshop was my first exposure to foresight planning – an approach to organizational planning which inquires into alternative and preferred futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them in order to design a futures-informed strategic plan for the organization. The experience left me much appreciative of this approach which enables the practitioner to use the future to change the present and to solve tomorrow’s problems today. Little wonder then that this approach is also known as “strategic foresight”.
NEOHUMANISM – Values and Mindset to move beyond a VUCA World
Sustainable utilization of resources
Global cooperation & collaboration
Harmonious thriving biosphere
Material accumulation to be happy
All-round physical, psychic & spiritual development for balance & happiness
Nature exists for human exploitation
Humans are part of nature and live in harmony with Nature
Mass-scale species extinction
My religion is the on true/correct moral belief system
Universal values are common to all spiritual practices
Zero sum game
Everyone wins with a win-win approach
Maximize profit for stakeholders
Quadruple bottom line – people, planet, purpose, and prosperity
Survival of the fittest
Me v. Other, Us v. Them
People, Planet, Purpose, Prosperity
One cosmic family
With Neohumanism as our guiding ideology, Gurukula aims to contribute significantly to the transition to a thriving, harmonious and happy planet. Ten years from now in 2031, we envision a brave new world in which:
Gurukula’s efforts contribute to mainstream recognition of Spirituality as key in meeting the new challenges of social and ecological stress while scientific materialism loses its dominance.
Gurukula’s efforts promote a progressive expansion of the education model to include ecological, spiritual, and futures perspectives.
Gurukula and its vision are key components in an alternative global education network, leading in several core areas such as Neohumanist Education, Transformational Leadership, Yoga and Intuitional Science, and Microvita as an Alternative Scientific Paradigm.
Gurukula offers a socially engaged approach to education which prioritizes the quadruple bottom line (people, planet, purpose, and prosperity).
Ananda Nagar and other master units around the world are linked and have become hubs of pragmatic, praxis-based learning.
A new generation, raised in a Neohumanist Education system, have stepped up to lead Gurukula.
Learning is linked to inner prosperity and global renewal.
Knowledge is no longer a “thing” but a luminous energy which links to freedom and happiness through an ideal lifestyle, abundance through ecological economics, justice and scientific temperament, progress and a thriving, vibrant ecosystem.
A diversity of ideas and perspectives thrives in an environment of healthy coexistence amongst all beings and engenders innovative problem-solving and continuous creativity.
For the above scenario to be realized, we need to reach an in-depth belief borne by a new image of ourselves. We need a new core metaphor for how we see ourselves. With further brainstorming, we reached enthusiastic agreement on a new metaphor for Gurukula: that of a Luminous Mycelium Connecting Network.
This Luminous Mycelium Connecting Network responds to the needs of the world, feeding the society through the roots by nurturing education, removing ignorance, and progressing towards spirituality to build a Neohumanist world for the entire family of humanity, animals, plants, and the ecosystem.
CALL TO ACTION
If the above agenda resonates with you, we invite you to join us and let us know how you would like to get involved. Gurukula is also looking for progressive and energetic spiritualists to help us with administrative work in our AMGK Headquarters at Anandanagar, the Global Liaison Office, the Administrative Office of Neohumanist College, and the Women’s College at Umanivas, including data management, marketing, fundraising, publications distribution, resource management, faculty development, etc.