The Synergy of Prout, Neohumanist Education, and the Spirit of Service

Compilation and Introduction by Kathleen Kesson

In this world/historical moment, two major challenges of global concern are the diverse and complex socio-political and economic inequalities that remain from the colonial era and the deep planetary ecological unsustainability wrought by the dominance of a corporate, global, extractive economy.  Both challenges are generated and reproduced by the economic relations at the hub of capitalism’s wheel, and the decolonization of society and education and the transformation of the global economic order are interrelated imperatives. A third challenge exists in the form of deeply autocratic empires committed to the preservation of patriarchal power and the suppression of individual and collective freedoms.  We seem trapped in the crushing jaws of the 20th century, even as so many people awaken to the 21st century cries for justice, sustainability, peace, economic democracy, and the dismantling of destructive hierarchies.

P.R. Sarkar gave innumerable discourses on virtually every aspect of human life.  We want to focus here on what we believe are three of his greatest proposals for human individual and social development/emancipation: Prout (the Progressive Utilization Theory), Neohumanism and Neohumanist Education, and AMURT/AMURTEL, the disaster relief organization that serves those in greatest need.

Prout philosophy is aimed at the transformation of societies to become more just, more ethical, more sustainable, and more supportive of human development and spirituality. Neohumanist Education is aimed at the cultivation of the character, knowledge and social commitment necessary to these transformations. To effect the necessary changes in societies, Prout and Neohumanist Education need to develop hand in hand. In this collaborative article, we look at six alignments between the theories of Prout and the theories of Neohumanist Education which offer an integrative approach to education and social change. We have invited scholars who have thought deeply about these ideas to offer brief commentaries elaborating on how they see these connections unfolding.

Following this, we feature a portrait of the potential synergies that emerge when Prout, Neohumanist Education, and AMURT/EL, with its integrated orientation toward education, community development, and service, align.