Education, formal and informal, provides the framework for young (and older) minds to interpret the world, find their place in and engage with it. Over the centuries education has been used to strengthen the ties among members of families, tribes, cities and nations. Along with other useful information that is shared, the very narrative of a community is passed on through education to its members from generation to generation. Inevitably, to an extent, but often also intentionally, education also conveys the stereotypes and magnifies the differences that exclude members of other communities.

The failure of globalisation, as currently practiced, to provide a better life for all and to reduce inequalities has led people to retreat to old notions of narrow community, with nationalism and intolerance spreading around the world. This is reflected in formal education, with significantly different versions of history taught in each country, while unifying narratives like that of the European Union are under attack. The danger is great of proving history true and repeating old mistakes, including war.

One would expect to have more enlightened and sober minds all around, thanks to the modern means of communication and the exposure of people to all kinds of views through the broadcast media and increasingly the internet and social media. Nonetheless, instead of unity they seem to be sowing further division, as people choose to mix in cyberspace as they did previously in the three-dimensional space, with similarly-minded individuals. Moreover, authoritarian leaders and ideologies use the modern communication means to align their supporters around the exclusive truth that they claim to possess.

FOGGS and education

FOGGS from its start has identified global citizen education as a key area of activity, fully in line with the Foundation’s humanist goals. The Global Land Paths (GLAP) series of summer workshops, carried out in cooperation with The Land Beyond, was the first attempt to take this agenda forward. With the launch of the Grand Narrative we now have a powerful story that transcends divisions and taps on the very essence of humanity. We want to spread it through all forms of education to help create the broader, all-inclusive sense of community that will allow for a peaceful and fair globalisation that works for all.

We are in touch with universities and other educational establishments interested in promoting this big-picture approach that combines a core narrative as normative framework and systems thinking – focusing on interconnections and the multidimensional nature of global challenges – as the method of analysis. In this framework the FOGGS Executive Director, Dr Georgios Kostakos, has been participating in a group of international experts advising the University of Koblenz-Landau (Germany) on incorporating systems thinking and responses to global challenges in their postgraduate and executive courses.

Click on the image below for a presentation entitled “A new kind of education in response to systemic global challenges”.