Culture as a Reality

20 Practical Steps Towards a Cultural Age with D. Paul Schafer, author of The World as Culture

On World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, IMAGINE launches a Special Feature of our 150 Days of Imagination campaign with D. Paul Schafer’s Culture as a Reality, an exciting 20 Week Conversation that continues the dialog started with Imagining to Living in a Cultural Age, Paul’s essay from our inaugural issue. Presented every Saturday through October 8th, Culture as a Reality gives IMAGINE readers an opportunity to engage with Paul and his ideas, along with a chance to win a copy of his new book, The World as Culture.

So please welcome and enjoy, D. Paul Schafer’s Culture as a Reality!

IN THE INAUGURAL ISSUE OF IMAGINE, I put forth in the essay From Imagining to Living in a Cultural Age that in the context of The Cultural Imagination, we may “Imagine the World from a Cultural Perspective.” In it I discussed how I have been imagining what it would be like to live in a cultural age since I was very young and how I finally got my thoughts on this matter down on paper in the 1975 articles – ‘Towards a New World Order: The Age of Culture’ and ‘The Age of Culture: Prospects and Implications – published by UNESCO, and later in my books Revolution or Renaissance: Making the Transition from an Economic Age to a Cultural Age and The Age of Culture.

But, it wasn’t until I read that Gandhi had said, “be the change you want in the world,” that I knew it was time to live in a cultural age and not just write about it, which I have been doing for some time now. This has involved seeing the world from a cultural perspective, dealing with culture and cultures in central and holistic terms.

Now for IMAGINE Vol. 2, I have the opportunity to elaborate on this with Culture as a Reality, a new campaign that will guide you through “20 Practical Steps Towards A Cultural Age” across the course of the next 20 weeks from today, Saturday, May 21st, up until Saturday, October 8th, on the eve of the second-annual Imagination Day.

It is pleasure to pick up where I left off in IMAGINE, Volume I.  Since that time, my book, The World as Culture: Cultivation of the Soul to the Cosmic Whole, has been published and is now available on all Amazon sites.  Ending with a chapter on ‘Making The World of Culture a Reality,’ The World as Culture opens the doors to a timely and urgent conversation about how this world can become a reality in the future.

Chapter 12, ‘Making The World of Culture a Reality,’ from The World as Culture by D. Paul Schafer

Commencing to coincide with World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development Dialogue and Development on Saturday, May 21, 2022,  I will be posting a principal theme, quote, and some additional information every Saturday for the next 20 weeks to activate and stimulate this conversation.

Culture as a Reality

SESSION 1 – SATURDAY, MAY 21st, 2022

The Cultural Age

THEME:

Today our inaugural theme is all about “culture as a reality” as the key to entering A Cultural Age.

My definition of a Cultural Age is an age where culture and cultures are seen and dealt with in holistic and all-inclusive terms as “complex wholes” or “total ways of life.” As such, the principal concern of a cultural age is developing all activities in life and most importantly achieving harmonious and balanced relationships between and among them.  This is necessary to come to grips with the dangerous and life-threatening problems that exist in the world today and going forward into the future.

QUOTE:

The quote that is most relevant to this is by Italian cultural contributor, Eleanora Barbieri Masini, who said, “Culture in the future is the crux of the future.”

This quote is essential because culture has been treated throughout history largely as a marginal rather than mainstream activity.  It is the crux of the future because  we need to shift from a world where culture is peripheral to a world where culture is central.

QUESTION:

What concrete steps do we individually and collectively need to take in practical terms to achieve this Cultural Age? What are you personally doing? What is working for you? What do you suggest we do? This is my question to you for todays inaugural session of Culture as a Reality.

Please give this question some thought and then provide your answers below in the comments section where the question has been posed. In the process, let’s start a discussion on this starting today right here on this page. Your input and proposals on this matter are crucial and will be highly valued and much appreciated. Those who get involved and engaged will not only become active players and contributors to a Great Conversation that can help to shape essential cultural consciousness and drive its development and expansion, but you will also be encouraged and rewarded with a chance to receive a personally autographed copy of The World as Culture.

I very much look to hearing from and working with you all over the next 20 weeks for my Culture as a Reality program. My contact information is available on my World Culture Project website home page, as is more information on THE WORLD AS CULTURE.

Kind regards,
Paul


Culture as a Reality

Session 1 Overview

  • Theme: Cultural Age: A Cultural Age is an age where culture and cultures are seen and dealt with in holistic and all-inclusive terms as “complex wholes” or “total ways of life.” As such, the principal concern of a cultural age is developing all activities in life and most importantly achieving harmonious and balanced relationships between and among them.  This is necessary to come to grips with the dangerous and life-threatening problems that exist in the world today and going forward into the future.
  • Question: What concrete steps do we need to take in practical terms to achieve this Cultural Age?
  • Quote: “Culture in the future is the crux of the future.” ― Eleanora Barbieri Masini
  • Book: The World as Culture: Cultivation of the Soul to the Cosmic Whole

Culture as a Reality

SESSION 2  –  SATURDAY, MAY 28, 2022

People as Culture

THEME:

In the inaugural launch of the first week of our 20-week conversation series on Saturday, May 21st, the main theme of Culture as a Reality was stated as the central role culture needs to play in the world in order to enter a cultural age. The relevant quote for the inaugural launch was by Eleanora Barbieri Masini, a distinguished cultural scholar and futurist from Italy who said “Culture in the future is the crux of the future,” thereby indicating that culture has a far more powerful role to play in the world of the future than it has the past or does at present.

Now that the main theme has been established for the entire series, the spotlight focuses on people today and the key role they can and should play in opening the doors to a cultural age and enabling it to flourish. We are privileged to have Meg Pier provide the input and basis for this conservation because no person is more qualified or knowledgeable about this matter or has more experience in this particular area.

Meg Pier is the founder, editor and publisher of People are Culture (PAC), a website that explores the meaning and relevance of culture through in-depth interviews and feature stories about how culture is created and shared. PAC profiles indigenous artisans; pioneering activists and innovators; dedicated stewards and preservationists; spiritual seekers; global visionaries and a host of others, who each relate their inspiration, process, techniques, and heritage. PAC’s human interest pieces also delve into its subject’s personal epiphanies, challenges, breakthroughs, and hopes for the future – for at the heart of all culture is our shared human condition.

People Are Culture presently provides more than 250 interviews, feature stories, and travel guides like this that reveal what makes places and different cultures unique. PAC shines a light on the traditions, customs, crafts and lifestyles of more than 30 countries in North, South and Central America, as well as Armenia, Europe, India, and the Middle East. Interviews with people in this respect cover 13 major categories, from architecture, archaeology, dance, and food to music, spirituality, textiles, and visual arts. As indicated on the PAC website, “In each piece, people share powerful insights about their heritage, while also revealing their own transformational life lessons and spiritual practices, world-changing ideas, dramatic adventures, and hard-won wisdom.

PAC’s stories take you deeper into the world’s different cultures–and also remind us that we all share the human condition. Culture explains what it means to be human. Culture is all the myriad ways we create, communicate, identify, individuate and connect. Culture provides ways to both express our individuality, and to see ourselves in others. Culture is the transmission line that makes possible cooperation, peace and prosperity. Without the capacity for connection we have misunderstandings, fear, intolerance, prejudice, chaos, anarchy and annihilation.

QUOTES:

Relevant quotes by Meg for this session are “Culture is both Universal and Personal” and “Culture explains what it means to be human.”

QUESTIONS:

Given that “people are culture” and we live a “cultural life” in the holistic sense that encompasses all aspects of culture and cultures and not just some aspects, how can people play a practical and proactive role in coming to grips with the dangerous and life-threatening problems that exist in the world today and make it possible for humanity and the world to cross over the threshold to a cultural age in the years and decades ahead? Your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas on this will be highly valued and much appreciated as we move forward with our series of conversations and probe into many other aspects of culture in the weeks to come.

SOURCES:

Website: People are Culture

Book: What is Culture?; Why Does it Matter?

GET INVOLVED TO LEARN, SHARE ANS HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN!

Please give this session’s questions some thought and then give us your answers in the comments section below. In the process, let’s start a discussion here on this page. Your input and proposals on this matter are crucial and will be highly valued and much appreciated. Those who get involved will not only become active players in a Great Conversation that helps to shape “cultural consciousness”, but you will also be rewarded with a chance to receive a personally autographed copy of D. Paul Schafer’s new book, The World as Culture.


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 3 – SATURDAY, JUNE 4, 2022

Culture is the Foundation for the Development of Our Personalities and Lives

THEME

The theme of last week’s Culture as a Reality conversation was “people” – all people and not just some people, most people, or wealthy and privileged people.  It is important to state and accept this fact because culture plays a central role in the lives of all people when it is seen and treated in the holistic sense as a complex whole or total way of life.  This is why Session 2 of our conversation series was devoted to the work of Meg Pier and her organization – People Are Culture – since the focus of Meg’s wonderful work in this area is on the role that culture plays in the lives of all people throughout the world as depicted in the way they live their lives, the personal stories they possess about this, and the interviews Meg creates and posts on her website to illustrate and confirm this.

This week’s theme delves deeply into this most essential matter by examining “culture as the foundation for the development of people’s personalities and lives.”  It is based on the conviction that all people in the world live a “cultural life” in this all-encompassing sense that is made up of countless parts that are woven together in different combinations and arrangements to create unique wholes and distinctive ways of life. These parts include not only people’s bodies, minds, brains, souls, and spirits, but also all the diverse social, educational, economic, technological, political, environmental, recreational, spiritual, and other activities they are involved in over the course of their lives.   

And this matter does not end here.  Far from it.  In order to be effective, people need to strive to make their cultural lives “harmonious wholes” and not just “wholes” since this is what experiencing happiness, fulfillment, meaning, and good health in life is really all about.  Many cultural scholars have written about this in one form or another over the years, such as Matthew Arnold who believed that culture is the “harmonious expansion of all the powers which make the beauty and worth of human nature and is not consistent with the over-development of any one power at the expense of the others,” as well as Goethe who advised us to “live in the whole, in the good, and the beautiful,” and  Joseph Campbell who contended that we should “follow our bliss” if we want to do the things that we were intended to do with our lives and then strive to achieve this.     

QUOTES

“The study of culture properly begins with the study of the cultural elements of the individual.”  ― James Feibleman

“Human cultures are people’s personalities writ large” This quote was made by Margaret Mead in the Foreword to Ruth Benedict’s popular book Patterns of Culture as a result of excerpts in this book by Benedict that said, “A culture, like an individual, is a more or less consistent pattern of thought and action,” as well as these traits “add up to the culture’s unique form or shape, its wholeness.”

QUESTIONS

Do you agree with the claim that all people live a cultural life as a whole or total way of life in the holistic sense?  If so, do you see your own life in these terms now, or do you think this would be a good objective to pursue in the future?  And what about creating and living your life as a “harmonious whole?” Is this your principal goal in life or are there other more effective ways of realizing this?  If so, how can people avoid slipping into a “disharmonious life” in the sense that they experience a lack of fulfillment, happiness, and good health in their lives? 

Your comments on these questions will be much appreciated and very helpful as we move forward with this conversation series, especially as the next conversation will be about visualizing a new prototype of the human personality and how to develop it in the future, namely the cultural personality.         

SOURCES

D. Paul Schafer, ‘Culture as the Foundation for the Development of Our Personalities and Our Lives’ This article can be accessed by putting the title of the article in quotation marks into Google, or through: https://oaji.net/articles/2020/690-1607525657.pdf

Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy

James Feibleman, The Theory of Human Culture

Ruth Benedict, Patterns of Culture

John Cowper Powys, The Meaning of Culture


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 4 – SATURDAY, JUNE 11, 2022

The Cultural Personality

THEME

The theme of last week’s Culture as a Reality series was culture and peopleall people and not just some people, most people, or wealthy people. This week’s session is intimately related to this because it has to do with developing our own and other people’s personalities and lives. In the economic age, two “personality types” have dominated because they are based on the objectives of this age. The first is “the specialist personality,” and the second is “the economic personality.” The specialist personality results from Adam Smith’s belief that all people should specialize in a specific production function because this creates the most material and monetary wealth for themselves, their countries, and the world as a whole. The economic personality results from the studies of neo-classical economists such as William Stanley Jevons who believed people are producers of goods and services on the one hand and consumers of goods and services on the other hand and should strive to maximize their consumer satisfaction in the marketplace.

Both these personality types, which have dominated the world for more than two centuries, are breaking down.  The specialist personality is breaking down because contemporary economic systems and technologies are changing so rapidly that people’s production skills and abilities are often out of date soon after they are acquired, thereby causing them to lose their jobs and confront the fact that they may have ten or fifteen different jobs over the course of their lives. The economic personality is breaking down because people are seen largely as producers, consumers, and maximizers of their satisfaction in the marketplace, and consequently objects to be exploited in the interests of economic growth which, as we know, is having a devastating effect on the natural environment and making it impossible to achieve sustainable development. As a result of developments like this, and others, it is rapidly becoming apparent that we must create “new personality prototypes” that are consistent with the needs of the future rather than the present and the past.

This is why this week’s session and theme are concerned with the personality prototype that is most appropriate for the age of culture and its goals, objectives, and ideals. I believe this is the cultural personality, which should be holistic, centered, creative, altruistic, and humane in order to realize more happiness, spirituality, and fulfillment in life as well as live in harmony with other people, species, culture, cultures, and the natural environment.

QUOTES

“As the key to all the highest interests of the human race, Personality seems to be quite the most important and fruitful problem to which the thinkers of the coming generation could direct their attention.” ― Hans Christiaan Smuts

“The whole purpose and end of culture is a thrilling happiness of a particular sort – of the sort, in fact, that is caused by a response to life made by the harmony of the intellect, the imagination, and the senses.” ― John Cowper Powys

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there are only walls.” ― Joseph Campbell

“Live in the whole, the good, and the beautiful.” ― Goethe

QUESTIONS

Do you agree that the two personality prototypes – the specialist personality and the economic personality – are the most common today but are breaking down? Is your life at present based on one or both of these prototypes? If so, how have current developments and events impacted on your thoughts and views about your own personality development and that of others? Are you attracted to the idea and characteristics of the cultural personality proposed here, or are you searching for a different kind of personality development and characteristics in the future? And what about this concept of personality types and prototypes in the first place? Do you think they are helpful or harmful going forward into the future and living in a cultural age?

Your comments on these matters will be much appreciated and very helpful as we move forward with our conversational sessions. My sincere thanks for being part of this process. Today’s session ends our focus on culture, people, the person, and personality development and prototypes. Next week, the focus will be shifted to the community and communities and how they should be viewed and developed in the age of culture.

SOURCES

D. Paul Schafer, The Cultural Personality (Oakville, Rock’s Mills Press, 2018). This book is available from Rock’s Mills Press, the publisher at https://www.rocksmillspress.com/cultural.html, or all Amazon sites in the world.

Link to The Cultural Personality video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oeh96njkxbg

World Culture Project Website: www3.sympatico.ca/dpaulschafer

With the many dynamic changes going on in today’s world, a new prototype of the human personality is needed to guide people’s future actions, behaviour, lifestyles, and overall development. This new prototype is the cultural personality. It is grounded in the belief that people should be holistic, centred, creative, altruistic, and humane if they are to achieve more happiness, fulfillment, and spirituality in their own lives as well as live in harmony with other people, cultures, species, and the natural environment as a whole.

In The Cultural Personality, author D. Paul Schafer explores the background, ramifications, and promise of this exciting new personality concept. In Chapter One, an assessment is made of the context within which people find themselves in the world today. In Chapter Two, the cultural personality is examined as a concept, largely by juxtaposing the two interdependent concepts of “culture” and “personality.” In Chapter Three, the main characteristics of the cultural personality are revealed. In Chapter Four, the cultivation of the qualities and abilities that are most required to constitute the cultural personality are provided. And in Chapter Five, attention is given to the way the cultural personality can function most effectively in the world in practical terms.


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 5 – SATURDAY, JUNE 18, 2022

The Culturescape – Self-awareness of Communities

THEME

Now that we have examined culture in terms of people, living a cultural life, and the cultural personality, let’s move forward with this process by venturing into communities. This word covers a variety of situations and places: groups, neighbours, neighbourhoods, villages, towns, and cities. Our focus today is on physical places – neighbourhoods, villages, towns, and cities – and not accumulations of people as groups and neighbours.

How much do we really know about these places, especially the ones we are living in or can access easily by foot, car, or bus. How familiar are we with their residential and industrial districts, diverse ethnic groups, restaurants, galleries, museums, libraries, arts centres, sports complexes, political and religious institutions, architectural masterpieces, and the like? Do we assume too much and explore too little?

The community culturescape is a tool or technique that enables us to examine, discover, and learn a great deal more about our communities. Its objective is to help us see and understand our communities as cultural environments or wholes made up of countless parts. This can be achieved by building a constellation of community profiles, such as their different sights, sounds, smells, textures, tastes, structures, resources, institutions, buildings, mysteries, delights, and a great deal more. Information on this can be choreographed in many different ways to reveal their strengths and shortcomings, our likes and dislikes of them in collective terms, favourite haunts and hideways, and so forth.  This information can be choreographed and used to create cultural maps, inventories, itineraries, better decision-making and citizen engagement processes, and so much more.

What role should the community culturescape play in this and where should it be located? Over the centuries, many different activities, institutions, and facilities have played a key role in this. At one time, it was religion and religious institutions. At another, the central square where social meetings and conservations were conducted and daily affairs discussed. In more recent times, it is industrial, commercial, or financial complexes where economic and financial activities take place and decisions about them are made. And what about the future? Should we be creating “community culturescape centres” at the core of our communities where the collective cultural image of the community is situated and people can go to if they want to acquire more information about this, contribute ideas, stories, or artefacts to it, or get to know it as an ordered whole and engaging way of life?  

QUOTATIONS

“A community is like a shattered mirror. Each person possesses a piece that is large enough to see his or her own reflection. However, no one has a piece that is large enough to provide a reflection of the community as a whole. A culturescape is a tool that enables people everywhere to participate in putting the shattered mirror of the community back together again.” ― D. Paul Schafer, ‘The Culturescape: Self-Awareness of Communities,’ UNESCO, Cultures 5:1 (1978).

“The city is both a physical utility for collective living and a symbol of those collective purposes and unanimities that arise under such favouring circumstances. With language itself, it remains man’s (people’s) greatest work of art.”  ― Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1938), p. 5 (insert mine)

“Cities, among other things, are physical artifacts, experienced through all the senses by people who are in them. They are experienced sequentially as people follow different paths and use different movement modes through them. Cities look, smell, sound and feel different, they have a different character or ambience..” ― Amos Rapoport, ‘Culture and the Urban Order,’ in John A. Agnew, John Mercer and David E Sopher (ed.) The City in Cultural Context (Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1984).p. 51.

QUESTIONS

How much do you know about your community, neighbourhood, village, town, or city as a whole? How involved are you in its daily affairs or engaged in its decision-making processes? Are there things you would like to contribute to your community’s culturescape process and methodology? How concerned are you about the future development and direction of your community and its all-inclusive culturescape?

Your comments on these matters will be greatly appreciated and very helpful as we move forward with our conversational sessions. Many thanks for being part of this informative and organic process.  Next week, we will follow up on the community culturescape by examining the role children, young people, families, and schools should play in this.

SOURCES

Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1938).

John A. Agnew, John Mercer and David E Sopher (ed.) The City in Cultural Context (Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1984).

D. Paul Schafer, ‘The Culturescape: Self-Awareness of Communities,’ UNESCO, Cultures 5:1 (1978). I would be pleased to send you an electronic copy of this article in English, French, or Spanish if you provide me with your email address.

‘Feasting on Cultures to Solve Our Problems and Enrich Our Lives’ (http://www3.sympatico.ca/dpaulschafer/Feasting.pdf

World Culture Project Website:  www3.symaptico.ca/dpaulschafer


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 6 – SATURDAY, JUNE 25, 2022

Reconnecting with your Culture

THEME

One of the most important developments taking place in the world today is the need many people, peoples, groups, and countries have to protect, connect, or reconnect with their cultures and heritages as ways of life. If their cultures and heritages are not threatened or attacked, it is easy to take them for granted. However, if they are threatened or attacked, they will immediately act to protect, preserve, connect, or reconnect with them, as is manifested in many parts of the world. As ways of life, cultures and heritages are the most important elements of all since they provide the context for everything and reveal how people see the world, live in the world, and work out their connection with the world. 

This is most apparent in terms of Black and Indigenous peoples as well as colonized people who lost or had their cultures and heritages destroyed many centuries ago and are now committed to reconnecting with them. This is also true for Ukraine, Ukrainians, and the illegal war in Ukraine, where this country, its culture and heritage, and its overall way of life are under fierce attack by Russia and are fighting to the bitter end to protect them. 

If there is one place where the response to developments like these should take place in the years ahead, surely it is with children, young people, and future generations. Their need to connect or reconnect with their cultures and heritages is crucial, especially in terms of learning their original languages, centuries-old customs and traditions, important historical events, artistic accomplishments, and especially their cherished worldviews, values, value systems, myths, legends, and beliefs. This is because they differ fundamentally from the foreign languages, heritages, and cultures they were forced to learn and are now imperative for their individual and collective survival and well-being, sense of identity, health and welfare, and ability to thrive as distinctive and creative peoples, groups, and nations.

While many organizations are involved in undertakings and activities like this, here is some basic information on one of these organizations that is expanding rapidly throughout the world. It is Reconnecting With Your Culture. It was founded in 2020 by Olimpia Niglio, a professor of architecture, and her colleagues and supported by the International Research Centre Esempi di Architecttura and many others. Its main mission is to enable children and young people in elementary and secondary schools to explore their own cultures and heritages and those of others in their own communities and document and share their experiences and results by drawing pictures, writing stories, making maps, and the like. They work closely with their teachers, schools, and parents on this process, and do so at the perfect time in their lives. While these experiences have national and international implications, most of the teaching and learning activities like this take place close to home and are proving to be very effective.  

QUOTATIONS

“Children and young people encounter their cultures and heritages first and foremost at the local level.”

“You must prepare yourself as if you were going on a trip to find a treasure and then draw it.”

“Think Cosmically, see Globally, behave Regionally, act Locally but insightfully.”

QUESTIONS

How does the situation confronting Black and Indigenous peoples, colonized countries, Ukraine and Ukrainians, and other minority and oppressed groups resonate with your own situation and experiences? Do you require help in preserving, protecting, and reconnecting with your original culture and heritage, or are grandparents, parents, relatives, friends, or community leaders able to help you with this? Are you able to help others in your community or culture who are experiencing problems like this with their problems? How are developments like this proving helpful in enabling you to find the confidence and comfort you need to recreate your own lives in creative, constructive, and rewarding ways?   

Your comments and contributions to these questions or others like them will be much appreciated and contribute a great deal to this and other sessions moving forward and positioning developments like this in their proper place and visualizing the changes that are necessary to recreate the world from a cultural perspective in practical terms. Next week’s session will follow up on this session by examining the urgent need at the present time to teach and learn about culture, cultures, and heritages in all schools and institutions throughout the world as well as all levels of the educational system.

SOURCES

Reconnecting With Your Culture : http://esempidiarchitettura.it/sito/edakids-reconnecting-with-your-culture/

RWYC: An Accessible Guide to the Pedagogical Method: http://esempidiarchitettura.it/sito/rwyc-international-guide/

RWYC: Tokyo Charter:

http://esempidiarchitettura.it/sito/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/TOKYO-CHARTER-EDUCATION-2021.pdf

The Tokyo Charter is available in many languages as you will notice on the RWYC’s website provided above.

D. Paul Schafer, World Culture Project, WCP Website: http://www3.sympatico.ca/dpaulschafer


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 7 – SATURDAY, JULY 2, 2022

Cultural Education

THEME

Session 6 ended with Reconnecting With Your Culture and the essential role it is playing in encouraging children and young people in the 5-17 age category to explore their own cultures and heritages and those of others in their own localities and communities and document their experiences in a variety of ways. As a result, it is working at the cutting edge of one of the most important requirements in the educational field today, namely what type of “cultural education” should people get in the future and how should educational authorities, institutions, and systems in the world respond and deal with this requirement.

Unfortunately, most people get little or no education in culture and cultures at present.  Courses in the arts, humanities, and heritage of history are either non-existent or are being cut back, courses in culture in post-secondary educational institutions are limited to some students taking a course or courses in anthropology, sociology, or cultural studies, and there are very few if any extensions courses in this domain. This must change and change dramatically in the future, with a far higher priority accorded to cultural education.

To be effective and in tune with present and prospective needs and developments, cultural education should be divided into four distinct components: learning about the nature and meaning of culture and cultures in all their diverse manifestations; learning about the fundamentals of culture, cultures, and civilizations, including their underlying assumptions, axioms, values, value systems, worldviews, ways of life, ideals, and so forth; dealing with the context of culture and cultures as well as culture and cultures as contexts; and situating culture and cultures effectively in the natural, historical, global, and cosmic environment. Given the complexity and diversity of culture and cultures as wholes or total ways of life, special emphasis should be placed on “cultural symbols” that “stand for the whole” or “the total ways of life of people” and consequently say a great deal about culture and cultures in the symbolic and representative sense.

The type of cultural education advocated here should start early in life and end late, as well as be tailored to coincide with the different stages of life. In order to do this, it should start with children in the home and family, continue through their elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education, be sustained later in life through adult education, extension, and lifelong learning programs. It should also be designed to cover the broad range of disciplines engaged in culture and cultures, from the arts, humanities, heritage of history, psychology, sociology, and anthropology to ecology, biology, mythology, and cosmology.

QUOTES

“Culture and education have no bounds or limits.” ― Maria Montessori

“The crucial differences which distinguish human societies and human beings are not biological. They are cultural.” ― Ruth Benedict

“If we are to preserve culture, we must continue to create it.” ― Johan Huizinga

“A truly vibrant and creative culture depends on a system of education which is not divided along class and sectarian lives.” ― Tom Paulin

QUESTIONS

How would you assess your own education in culture and cultures? Was, or is, its non-existence, inadequate, adequate, or more than adequate? What changes would you like to see made in cultural education at present and especially going forward into the future? Did you receive any education in other cultures beside your own? The distinguished Mexican cultural scholar, Antonio Alonso-Concheiro, believes that we can never really get to know or understand other cultures because we can’t transcend our own cultural frame of reference and conditioning. Do you agree with this? If so, what are the implications of this for cultural education and international relations in the future? Do you think a special role should be accorded to the arts in cultural education in the years and decades ahead?

Your comments and contributions to these questions – or others like them – will be much appreciated and contribute a great deal to this and other sessions moving forward and positioning developments like this in their proper place and visualizing the changes that are necessary to recreate the world from a cultural perspective in practical terms. Next weeks’ session – Session 8 – will be devoted to the Jena Declaration which was created very recently and is committed to the broadly agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a “bottom up” rather than “top down” approach to these goals and stronger engagement of the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts in this. This coincides with the approach being taken in this Culture as a Reality series and its 20 specific sessions.

SOURCES

Culture and Cultures: Key Learning Requirements for the Future’

The Future of Arts Education: Broaden, Deepen, Diversify, Intensify’

D. Paul Schafer, World Culture Project, WCP Website: www3.sympatico.ca/dpaulschafer


D. Paul Schafer is the Founder and Director of the World Culture Project in Markham, Canada, who has worked in the cultural field for more than five decades as an educator, advisor, administrator, and researcher, as well as the author of multiple books including, Culture: Beacon of the FutureThe Age of CultureThe Arts: Gateway to a Fulfilling Life and Cultural Age, and his new, The World as Culture: Cultivation of the Soul to the Cosmic Whole.

In his thought-provoking, The World as Culture, Schafer makes the case for what he calls the world as culture — a world in which culture is the central organizing principle of human civilization.

For the past two and a half centuries, we have lived in a world in which economics and economic principles reign supreme. Although the world of economics is likely humanity’s greatest achievement, Schafer argues that economics and its associated modes of thought is incapable of coming to grips with the enormous problems we face today. Humanity must move toward the world as culture, a world in which cultural modes of knowing and doing play a central role.

Schafer considers the various manifestations of culture that have evolved over the centuries, painting a fascinating panorama unique to this book. Those manifestations include culture as cultivation of the soul, which originated with Roman statesman and scholar Marcus Cicero; culture as the arts, the humanities, and the heritage of history; culture in the context of personality development; the anthropological and sociological manifestations of culture; and, most recently, ecological, biological, and cosmological conceptions of culture.

Culture’s embrace of holism, its attention to the total pattern of human life, and its incorporation of artistic and humanistic modes of thought make it the ideal organizing principle for a brighter and more sustainable future. Schafer concludes by considering how the world as culture might be brought into existence in the years ahead.

5 Comments

  • Mark Riva
    2 months ago Reply

    CULTURE AS A REALITY

    Everyone who responds with an answer to any of the questions posed in this program here in our comments section will be eligible to win an autographed copy of D. Paul Schafer’s new book, The World as Culture. Please include the question you are addressing in your comment.

    . . . . . . . .

    1. Session One Question: What concrete steps do we need to take in practical terms to achieve this Cultural Age?

    2. Session Two Question: How can people play a practical and proactive role in coming to grips with the dangerous and life-threatening problems that exist in the world today and make it possible for humanity and the world to cross over the threshold to a cultural age in the years and decades ahead?

    3. Session Three Question: Do you agree with the claim that all people live a cultural life as a whole or total way of life in the holistic sense? If so, do you see your own life in these terms now, or do you think this would be a good objective to pursue in the future? And what about creating and living your life as a “harmonious whole?” Is this your principal goal in life or are there other more effective ways of realizing this? If so, how can people avoid slipping into a “disharmonious life” in the sense that they experience a lack of fulfillment, happiness, and good health in their lives? 

    4. Session Four Question: Do you agree that the two personality prototypes – the specialist personality and the economic personality – are the most common today but are breaking down? Is your life at present based on one or both of these prototypes? If so, how have current developments and events impacted on your thoughts and views about your own personality development and that of others? Are you attracted to the idea and characteristics of the cultural personality proposed here, or are you searching for a different kind of personality development and characteristics in the future? And what about this concept of personality types and prototypes in the first place? Do you think they are helpful or harmful going forward into the future and living in a cultural age?

    5. Session Five Question: How much do you know about your community, neighbourhood, village, town, or city as a whole? How involved are you in its daily affairs or engaged in its decision-making processes? Are there things you would like to contribute to your community’s culturescape process and methodology? How concerned are you about the future development and direction of your community and its all-inclusive culturescape?

    6. Session Six Question: How does the situation confronting Black and Indigenous peoples, colonized countries, Ukraine and Ukrainians, and other minority and oppressed groups resonate with your own situation and experiences? Do you require help in preserving, protecting, and reconnecting with your original culture and heritage, or are grandparents, parents, relatives, friends, or community leaders able to help you with this? Are you able to help others in your community or culture who are experiencing problems like this with their problems? How are developments like this proving helpful in enabling you to find the confidence and comfort you need to recreate your own lives in creative, constructive, and rewarding ways?

    7. Session Seven Questions: How would you assess your own education in culture and cultures? Was, or is, its non-existence, inadequate, adequate, or more than adequate? What changes would you like to see made in cultural education at present and especially going forward into the future? Did you receive any education in other cultures beside your own? The distinguished Mexican cultural scholar, Antonio Alonso-Concheiro, believes that we can never really get to know or understand other cultures because we can’t transcend our own cultural frame of reference and conditioning. Do you agree with this? If so, what are the implications of this for cultural education and international relations in the future? Do you think a special role should be accorded to the arts in cultural education in the years and decades ahead?

    . . . . . . . .

    Many thanks for being part of this informative and organic process. Your comments and contributions to these questions – or others like them – is much appreciated and contributes a great deal to this program and positioning developments like this in their proper place and visualizing the changes that are necessary to recreate the world from a cultural perspective in practical terms.

  • Meg Pier
    1 month ago Reply

    I am delighted to be a part of this Imaginezine conversation with Paul. I think the concept of culture as the basis of life rather than economics is a wonderful aspiration. It may sound idealistic–but that is why its important to share concrete ways to ground the idea and make it real.

    In that spirit, I will ask a question of Paul, Mark, and others:

    If this shift is to happen, how will people earn their livelihoods? What is a catalytic change that could bring about a society where the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth is not the primary driver? And where a holistic way of living that encompasses other dimensions of being human is the “currency”?

    I have some observations on this. I think the internet has tremendous potential to foster greater understanding and connection and inter-dependence. Indeed, I think this is occurring and what’s more, it has galvanized a creative economy of millions.

    However, because of systemic problems in how content is discoverable on the internet, and the arcane knowledge needed to make content discoverable, only people with that knowledge, or the means to hire others who have that knowledge, can share their wisdom, services, art, etc with a broad audience.

    Google’s algorithms present internet searchers with content that very narrowly delivers a specific answer to a specific question. That black and white thinking is very limiting. How does serendipity occur that way?

    So, a means of democratizing the internet so it fulfills its true potential would be catalytic indeed. Facebook and many other social media platforms had that potential–but once they got people’s attention, it became a revenue play.

    I think many people struggle with this reality–and I imagine there are IT minds among them. Perhaps a community of such people could create a forum for building a movement to address this. and to invite Google, Facebook, etc to take a seat at the table. I also see colleges and universities as key players in such a dialogue.

    I look forward to hearing other people’s ideas and suggestions!

    • Mark Riva
      1 month ago Reply

      Meg, it’s great to have you stop by and help kick-start the vital conversation that is critical to initiatives such as IMAGINE and its ‘Culture as a Reality’ program with D. Paul Schafer, which is a fantastic vehicle for connecting people and organizations such as your impressive People Are Culture!

  • Marta Ockuly
    1 month ago Reply

    Thank you for sparking this evocative conversation! When I see the ‘term’ “culture” – it leads me to imagine people who populate this planet- present and future. It also brings up the idea of poverty- lack of access to basic needs and connections between slavery and those who through the accident of birth have access to food security, housing, health care, the best education as well the freedom to pursue what they are inspired to cultivate and share with the world. Add to that wars, religious persecution, droughts, plagues, floods , volcano eruptions, discrimination (gender, sexuality, nationality, religious), and the environmental crisis and it seems to me the term ‘culture’ needs to incorporate inequity along with the potential that exists today on earth. As Maslow noted, human potential cannot be actualized without basic needs being met. I wonder how the traumas mentioned color the conversation about culture moving forward? For me, imagination opens doors, but as we all know, without sustainable sources of funding and deep motivation for personal change by the masses – the best intentions for positive change often hits a very tall and wide wall. We all have the potential to be visionaries. But looking at the current state of disruption around the world – how do each you currently define ‘culture’ at this point in the 21st century? And what might we all begin to imagine?

  • David Paul Schafer
    1 month ago Reply

    There is something that needs to be clarified about the basic difference between the present economic age and a potential future cultural age. It has to do with the putting the highest priority on the whole (culture in the holistic sense) rather than a part of the whole (economics in the partial sense).

    Unfortunately the present economic age was created and developed with little or no consideration given to the whole and therefore the “context” within which economics, economies, and economic growth were and are situated and take place, especially in terms of the natural, historical, human, and global environment. As a result, we are experiencing exceedingly difficult and life-threatening problems today in terms of the environmental crisis, the preservation of the cultural heritage of humankind, treating people as consumers of goods and services rather than as human beings, colossal inequalities in income and wealth, and focusing on western countries and ignoring many other countries and parts of the world.

    It is this problem that makes it imperative to extricate ourselves from the present economic age and enter a new kind of age in the future, since it is not possible as we are finding now to insert the necessary context into the economic age after the fact.

    Most people and countries don’t want to leave the economic age because they think it will mean much lower incomes, losses of jobs and employment opportunities, and far fewer goods and services and less material and monetary wealth and all the benefits that go along with this. In part, they are right. However, the environment crisis has gone on for so long that the entire natural environment will be devastated and the world’s natural resource base will be diminished to the point where living on the planet will become unbearable and unsustainable.

    This need not happen. I believe that entering a cultural age is the most viable and suitable solution to this problem when culture is seen and treated as a complex whole or total way of life because it will provide the context that is required to ensure that future developments in economics and economies are situated properly in a cultural context and therefore take the state of the environment, the treatment of people as peoples rather than generators of economic activity, and all countries and not just some countries into account in all future public and private developments.

    This will unleash new forms of creativity, ingenuity, imagination, and inclusion that will lead to new types of jobs and employment possibilities, more humane and environmentally-sensitive economies, a much better balance between the qualitative and quantitative dimensions of life, many more opportunities in other parts of the world, and different media, technological, and educational developments that are in tune with the new circumstances that are evolving very rapidly in the world today.

    I think this shift is beginning to occur in the world and is being brought on by the systemic cultural changes that are desperately required in the treatment of marginalized and oppressed groups, races, and minorities and the opportunities they have to express themselves and achieve concrete results in personal and collective terms, the search for jobs and employment opportunities that are more fulfilling in nature, greater recognition and awareness of countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, the quest for new modes of living and exciting forms of artistic, religious, and spiritual expression, more conscious and consistent environmental practices, and many others. I believe this is starting to occur as a result of more inclusive and equitable policies than existed in the past.

    If we can continue in this vein and do it more consistently, consciously, systematically and frequently, as well as admit and come to grips with the contextual mistakes we have made in the past, I believe we can experience a more sustainable, peaceful, and equitable renaissance than a violent, volatile, and devastating revolution in the years, decades, and possibly centuries ahead..

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