Auroville - progress towards a learning society
Right from the start, the concept of Auroville as a 'univercity' fired the imagination of many, as a place which is planned as an open and dynamic centre of learning and teaching; as a place where, ideally, all residents are students as well as teachers; and as a place where the basic economy will be an exchange of knowledge, an economy of teaching and learning. These have been persistently alive images in the collective consciousness of Auroville since the start.
Many initiatives have been born from this pre-occupation over the years, in particular the Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Educational Research (SAIIER) in 1984, which was created to continue and broaden the work that was already under way in developing the educational capacity of Auroville and to support advances in educational and cultural research. Then there has been the establishment of many team-based research centres in all the areas of life that Auroville is engaged with, including education, health, technology, arts and crafts, village development, agriculture and forestry, architecture and spiritual development. These centres offer, from various locations in Auroville, educational programmes to residents of Auroville and, increasingly, to the local Tamil population and visitors.
Education and research facilities
Education and research are very evidently themes that are of predominant concern for Auroville, and naturally so, as it is part of the curriculum given to the community by The Mother through the Auroville Charter.
Today, Auroville is preparing to take yet another step towards orienting itself more deliberately around these ideals. Planning has commenced to expand the work of SAIIER through the creation of two new major initiatives. The first is the establishment of eight Faculties, which will occur as a natural development of existing programmes and activities of SAIIER. The faculties are:
The formation of these faculties has emerged in part as a result of a research in Auroville itself about the existing opportunities for learning across all areas of life, and the potentialities of educators and researchers to expand their work if the means were available to do so. It was found that there exists in Auroville a vast range of activity areas, which can essentially be reflected in these eight thematic areas. There are individuals and teams who are willing to offer programmes, activities and apprenticeship-learning opportunities for youth and adults in Auroville and throughout the world. Work is currently under way to draw together those working in each theme or Faculty . One needs to know their requirements in order to enable them to expand their work to more fully embrace this idea of a learning society.
Research into human unity
The other initiative is known as the Centre for International Research in Human Unity (CIRHU). Its main areas of focus will include the study of human transformation and the exploration of conditions that are favourable for an evolution in consciousness and the realisation of a fundamental human unity. CIRHU wishes to be a kind of think tank and exchange-point for people around the world who are concerned with these themes - to experiment, discuss, exchange and contribute to the growing global understanding of what it means to create and live in a truly spiritualised society.
CIRHU will also be interdisciplinary in the sense that its areas of enquiry will be nurtured by whatever streams of knowledge will flow from research institutions in India and abroad as well as from the faculties of SAIIER.
This proposal for the expansion of SAIIER as described above is a new ambitious venture which Auroville is preparing itself to undertake. Essentially it will be a vehicle to accelerate, and bring to predominance, the relevant points in our Charter in a collectively cohesive way. It will develop organically and in synergy with all that already exists in Auroville - the schools, the research centres, and especially the rich human resource material - and nourish it.
In order to adequately embrace these directions, Auroville will need to expand its present base of facilities and resources so as to be able to host, conduct research and offer programmes to a larger number of student learners from within and outside Auroville. A process has started to formulate a detailed development proposal to seek assistance from the Government of India to implement these initiatives. If successful in being able to attract the support it requires, Auroville - through SAIIER - would plan the following programmes from the year 2002 onwards:
Actualisation of a dream
In many ways, this overview skims the surface of what is being dreamed of and envisioned. Today, concrete details are being worked out with Aurovilians concerned in a sincere effort to create something true and not artificial, something that can meet the needs of a city of the future. Although ambitious, the project is also very exciting. There is a solid movement towards the actualisation of a dream, which has been so close to Auroville's core from the start. And while we can envision to some extent what its materialisation will physically look like, ultimately who can tell? There will probably be a range of decentralised facilities catering to the specific needs of the different faculties, mostly throughout the International and Cultural Zones. There is the idea of the CIRHU campus, which will contain a large multi-media resource centre for networking, self-study and research. Connectivity via electronic media will certainly PLAY a big part in terms of exchange & generation of new information within and beyond Auroville, and there also will be auditoria and conference facilities for international programmes.
This centre then is seen as a convergence point for all those who pursue unending education, young and old, and a lively centre for sharing, expanding and synthesizing knowledge for the benefit of humanity as a whole. Ultimately this initiative means that the community as a whole, the entire city, will be more deliberately dedicated to education in the largest sense of the word. It will be organised in such a way that it is open to all who want to learn and to study its activities.
For more specific information about SAIIER and the above mentioned proposals, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and for CIRHU email@example.com
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