Learning to Live in Harmony

The decision to create a focus area on Learning to Live in Harmony was made during the Building the Scientific Mind colloquium held in The Hague, The Netherlands, from 17 to 20 May 2005. We consider this particular circumstance relevant as the spirit of science is not alien to the search for harmony. Nurturing the spirit of science may be one of several ingredients through which humans learn to live in a harmonious relationship with their social, biological and physical environment as well as at peace with themselves.

Through this focus area we wish to attend to concerns about human learning and development that are immediately relevant to promoting the emergence of a better world. The idea of a better world is expressed through the central concept of harmony. The concept of harmony is related to more than the capacity to live peacefully together with members of our own species. Harmony is an integral part of living in a well-balanced fashion within the larger ecological context of our environment.

Through the development of this focus area, we hope to contribute to shifting attention from education for peace to learning for harmony. The former concept suggests that one must merely add a subject to the school curriculum and that living in peace with the fellow members of our species can be separated from harmonious attitudes to all that surrounds us and that we are part of. The latter idea implies that, as far as the school is concerned, building a better world is something embedded in everything students get exposed to. It also implies that the area of concern and intervention is not restricted to what goes on in school but equally concerns human learning in multiple other contexts and settings.

John Avery coordinates the development of this area. A draft version of an extensive concept paper by John Avery regarding Learning to Live in Harmony is available here.

The following works by John Avery that are relevant to LLH are available via this site:

We have pleasure also in providing a link to a Ph.D. thesis by Bent Nørby Bonde on the important theme of Media and Communication in Conflict Prevention and Peace-Building - Exploring Strategies for International and UN-led Conflict Transformation.In announcing the defense of his thesis, Bent Nørby Bonde refers to how media were actively used to ignite the Balcan wars and the genocide in Rwanda. Based on an analysis of the role of media during conflict escalation, Bonde develops models for international media and communication intervention in areas with armed conflict. Thus media may contribute to peace building and help prevent new conflicts. His thesis has inadvertently acquired enhanced relevance in the present debate, sparked by the so-called ‘cartoon crisis.’ Is it possible through international support to local media, to help them contribute to the de-escalation of conflict and the building of a common future for whole populations? Is this possible with a continued respect for the freedom of speech? We feel that Bonde's work is important in the context of a world that must care for diversity in the different ways in which disparate cultures view, appreciate, and act within the circumstances that surround them, making it necessary for us all to rise above the divisions that keep us apart, standing in awe of the beautiful complexity we have been able to generate as our species evolved, determined not to let it being destroyed in dissipative conflict.