Category SfP Bulletin February 2005
Reprinted from International Society of Political Psychology News, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Fall 2004), p. 9.
Abstract: The torture of male, female and child prisoners held without charges in the US military prison at Abu Ghraib requires a reaction from the social science disciplines engaged in the cultural research that may have contributed to the rationale and methods used there. This brief report summarizes the critical commentary solicited and published by the American Anthropological Association in its September issue of Anthropology News.
Psychology and other social science disciplines engaged in cross-cultural and international research need much more collective care about the ethics of their activities. My own focus has been on historical abuses of cross-cultural psychology in genocide, in racial denigration, and in espionage. See Rudmin’s (2004 & in press) articles. Last summer, I wrote to the individual members of the ethics committees of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Anthropological Association (AAA) about the need to consider the role of research in the design of the methods of torture exhibited at Abu Ghraib prison.
The AAA responded promptly and positively to my inquiry, and arranged that their association newsletter solicit and publish a set of commentary about Abu Ghraib. The APA has been less responsive to this concern.
Gregory Starrett (2004), a contributing editor of Anthropology News, noted that journalist Seymour Hersch, who first reported the Abu Ghraib torture, had identified a 1973 anthropology book, The Arab Mind, as “one source of our government’s understanding of the psychological vulnerabilities of Arabs” (p. 10). This book was written by anthropologist Raphael Patai, and apparently reported, for example, that Arabs are ashamed of nudity, are anxious about homosexuality, and consider dogs to be dirty. For 30 years, this book has been required reading at the US Army’s Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, N.C. Patai had been contracted by Yale University’s Human Relations Areas Files in 1956 to prepare a report on Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, using funding from the US Army. The anthropologist contracted to prepare a comparable report on Afghanistan and Pakistan was Donald Wilber, the chief US planner for the CIA’s 1953 coup against Iran’s democratic government. Starret closes with a paraphrase from Hermann Goering: “In contemporary conflicts any mention of culture may mask the sound of a revolver being drawn.”
Martha Huggins (2004) is a sociologist with several decades of research on state violence and torture in Latin America. She identified 10 conditions that predict torture at US prisons in Iraq and Guantanamo:
- The word “torture” is avoided by officials and guards, preferring instead terms like “tough interrogation.”
- Evidence of torture is ignored and denied.
- Ad hoc legalism is used to make torture seem legal and legitimate.
- Torture is justified under the rhetoric and ideology of national security.
- Torture is systematic, taught and maintained by legal, ideological, and organizational frameworks.
- Many people are engaged in the torture, not just a few bad apples.
- The responsibility is thus spread, so that the actual perpetrators will take the blame and the officials behind the torture regime are protected.
- Prisons are pressured to process prisoners efficiently in order to maximize production of information.
- The torturers try to maintain secrecy and anonymity, hence they wear hoods, work at night, etc.
- Torturers have impunity, and those responsible are unlikely to be punished.
Stephen Reicher and Alex Haslam (2004) are British psychologists who review some of the arguments that social pressures, social roles, and group-think are causes of atrocities. They had run their own version of the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment and found that those participants who resisted their roles and did not succumb to sadism were apparently motivated by multiple allegiances and concerns about how their behavior would be judged at other times and from other perspectives. Thus, social groups can be a source of morality and resistance to evil acts as well as a cause of evil acts. Perhaps the greatest source of evil actions arises from identifying “others” whom threaten “us.” Such categorizations of people and such emotions of fear arise from the rhetoric and visions of a society’s political leadership, usually for purposes of acquiring or maintaining political power. “In the end, evil may well be banal, but banality is not a sign that human activity and human choice are missing” (p. 15).
Catherine Myser (2004) is a cross-cultural ethicist who argues that the Abu Ghraib events require a wide ranging, open, public debate on human rights in the context of our current national security scare. An analysis of the US government’s new category of “unlawful enemy combatants” shows that it is a mechanism for deny them legal status and in effect person status. They are outside the domain of “human;” they are “nobodies” who can be abused without regard to law or human rights. Furthermore, terrorism entails an absence of legal reciprocity, such that the nation state and its soldiers feel less obligation to adhere to conventions on the legal rights of prisoners. Protection from torture had been thought to be a right that was well established as universal, even in the face of low reciprocity and regardless of the political contexts. But the US administration now justifies torture on the grounds of national security and self-defense, even though the evidence is that torture is not a practical or efficient way to get useful information.
Lt. Col Michael Newton (2004) is a US Army Judge Advocate teaching law at West Point Military Academy. He argues that US soldiers are professionals, who are helpful to others in the world in promoting freedom and adhering to rule of law. He argues that “we should never accept a moral or legal equivalence between an enemy that deliberately and repeatedly violates the basic norms of international law, and an American military that is required to ‘comply with the principles and the spirit of the law of war’ at all times” (p. 17). The failures that led to torture at Abu Ghraib re-emphasize the need for well-trained, disciplined, professional soldiers.
My own contribution to this commentary (Rudmin, 2004) was to admonish the social science fields of Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, and Political Science for their silence when faced with events of Abu Ghraib. A reading of the codes of ethics of American associations for these disciplines shows common cross-disciplinary ethical norms:
- that research should benefit the peoples who are studied and should do them no harm,
- that researchers must anticipate that their findings might be abused and should take effective steps to prevent or stop such abuses,
- that the rights, dignity and privacy of the people studied must be protected,
- that the professional code of ethics over-rides demands of employers to do unethical acts, and
- that social scientists are obligated to protect the reputation of their discipline and to be concerned about the unethical behavior of colleagues.
Thus the use of expert cultural knowledge to design culturally tailored torture is unethical, and all of us in the social sciences have ethical obligations to protest such violations of our science.
Huggins, M. K. (2004). “Torture 101: What sociology can teach us.” Anthropology News, 45 (6), 12-13.
Myser, C. (2004). “Ethics under fire at Abu Ghraib: Unresolved questions.” Anthropology News, 45 (6), 16, 19.
Newton, M. A. (2004). “I am an American soldier.” Anthropology News, 45 (6), 17, 19.
Reicher, S., & Haslam, A. (2004). “The banality of evil: Thoughts on the psychology of atrocity.” Anthropology News, 45 (6), 14-15.
Rudmin, F. W. (2004). “Torture at Abu Ghraib, and the telling silence of social scientists.” Anthropology News, 45 (6), 9.
Rudmin, F. W. (2004). “Historical notes on the dark side of cross- cultural psychology: IQ, reaction time, and racism.” Psykologisk Tidskrift, 7 (3), 10-12.
Rudmin, F. W. (2004). “Historical notes on the dark side of cross-cultural psychology: Genocide in Tasmania.” Peace Research, 36 (1), 57-64.
Starrett, G. (2004). “Culture never dies: Anthropology at Abu Ghraib.” Anthropology News, 45 (6), 10-11.
Review of Joseph Schwartzberg’s monograph, “Revitalizing the United Nations,” Institute for Global Policy, 2004, 80pp.
(A slightly briefer version was previously published in Mondial__, Journal of the World Federalist Movement — Canada, Oct. 2004)__
In Joe Schwartzberg’s excellent proposals for UN reform, each nation would be assigned a weighted vote (WV) equal to the average of its share of the total UN population (almost the whole world) plus its share of the contribution to the total UN budget (almost proportional to each nation’s gross national product) plus its share of the total UN membership (1/191; the only significant exceptions to UN universal membership are Taiwan, Palestine, Puerto Rico and Western Sahara). Thus each nation’s weighted vote would be based on its population, its wealth, and its existence as a sovereign nation.
Schwartzberg’s weighted voting formula would be applicable to a reformed UN Security Council and General Assembly, but one is not a precondition for the other. In this article I will focus on the Security Council.
Schwartzberg proposes that nations whose weighted vote would equal or exceed 4.0 would automatically have a seat, (but without a veto) on a reformed Security Council.
Nations that would qualify under this rule would be the U.S. (9.1), China (7.7), Japan (7.3) and India (6.0). Nations that don’t make it would be free to form blocs or coalitions whose combined weighted votes would add up to 4.0 or more. Blocs would be based on negotiations, political affiliations, existing regional associations, common culture or some combination thereof. One or more seats would be reserved for election by the General Assembly from among nations that do not join a bloc or individually qualify for a seat at the table.
Schwartzberg provides two illustrative schemes. The first has 16 seats — China, India, Japan, the U.S., and the following 12 hypothetical blocs, with the number of members, total weighted vote, the two leading members and other nations over 0.5 WV:
||20 members, 5.59
||(Egypt 0.56, Saudi Arabia 0.48)
|Central, Eastern and Southern Africa
||23 members, 6.13
||(South Africa 0.55, Ethiopia 0.54)
||2 members, 4.365
||(Austria 0.53, Germany 3.835)
||17 members, 4.22
||(Poland 0.51, Ukraine 0.45)
||23 members, 5.43
||(Mexico 1.08, Dominican Republic 0.30)
|Non-Arab Islamic States
[of Central and Southwest Asia]
|11 members, 4.21
||(Pakistan 0.99, Turkey 0.70, Iran 0.62)
||7 members, 4.60
||(United Kingdom 2.33, Sweden 0.56)
||10 members, 5.02
||(Brazil 1.91, Argentina 0.69)
||11 members, 5.29
||(Indonesia 1.38, Philippines 0.64, Vietnam 0.61, Thailand 0.61)
||8 members, 4.88
||(Italy 2.16, Spain 1.23)
||21 members, 5.18
||(Nigeria 0.90, Ghana 0.29)
||5 members, 4.89
||(France 2.62, Netherlands 0.84, Switzerland 0.63, Belgium 0.60)
Twenty-nine states are not part of any bloc in this scenario. Major omissions are Russia, Canada, Australia and Bangladesh. Schwartzberg’s second hypothetical formulation envisions a 15-year transitional phase during which Russia, France and the UK would not qualify as members in their own right but would retain their membership on the Council. During that period, the Russian economy might grow sufficiently to push it over the weighted vote threshold of 4.0.
Amendments (mine mainly): Russia would somehow have to be guaranteed a seat. It is the world’s second biggest nuclear weapons state (I hate to say that, but politics intrude), a big space power, and (more rationally) the world’s largest nation.
Additionally, we absolutely must not leave out Canada, many times already serving on the Security Council and active in UN peacekeeping. Canada could either join the Scandinavian bloc (Northern Europe, renamed Nordica). Or we might form ‘The Old Commonwealth’ (UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) which would get rid of two more ‘orphans,’ Australia and New Zealand. These countries are connected by several strands: history, language, common membership in several treaties, presence of (mistreated) native peoples and general culture.
We should definitely not consider joining Canada to the U.S. which does not need this addition. As former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once said, “who wants to get in bed with an elephant?”
The Schwartzberg scheme has some similarity with the proposal by Lucio Levi for a UN Security Council composed of regional associations, such as European Union, African Union, OAS, ASEAN and CIS (Russia plus its ‘near abroad,’ or former Soviet Union-although the latter would not quite reach 4.0). But the Lucio Levi scheme would leave even more unaffiliated ‘orphans,’ and also contain some overlaps (eg. North African states belonging to both African Union and Arab League).
There is also some similarity with Richard Hudson’s “Binding Triad,” in the three factors chosen and the making of GA votes biding. However, Hudson’s scheme requires simultaneous two-thirds majorities on population, GNP, and UN membership, a requirement that would be difficult for any resolution to achieve. The Schwartzberg scheme is more permissive.
My own scheme (in my book Design for a Better World, University Press of America, 1983) based on population and GNP (only two factors) is not as good as Schwartzberg’s for the General Assembly, a humble statement for an author to admit.
Most people want their letters to be effective, but some are not aware of how to achieve this.
A letter to the Prime Minister can:
- reach the Prime Minister and be read by him, thereby conceivably producing some direct effect;
- reach his political advisers, and possibly influence them; such a letter could also result in direct contact with one or more of the PM’s political advisors.
- reach the public — as would a letter addressed to the PM and also published in the press.
Failure to do any of the above could mean that the effort expended on the letter was wholly wasted.
To get the Prime Minister to read your letter is the most difficult of the three. All the PM’s correspondence goes to the Privy Council Office and most letters are junked immediately, though there may be a count made on the question of who is for or against something such as missile defence. Many of the better letters receive a form letter by way of reply, and the PM never sees any of those either.
Then there are the few letters that receive personal replies. To increase the chances that your letter will be one of these, it is a good idea to send a copy of your letter to the person who handles the PM’s correspondence in the PM’s office. This indicates that you are not clueless about how things are done, and may also bring the Privy Council office back to have a second look at your letter, which so far had only reached the form-letter pile. They might reconsider and draft an individual reply.
The personal replies are drafted in the Privy Council Office and taken to the PM for signature with your original letter. The PM sees your letter at that moment, and you can be sure, the shorter it is, the more chance he will read it. Your letter must therefore not digress in any way from your main theme. It is also advisable to subject such a letter to a process of tightening. Get an editor to read it over and make suggestions.
It can also be very useful to reach the PM’s political advisors. To do this, address your letter to the PM in the usual way, but make sure you send a copy to his political advisor on that subject or to his chief political advsor.
Open letters are often intended to stir up public opinion, but it isn’t a bad idea if these also are subjected to tightening before sending. It is necessary to have someone willing to publish it about the time it is mailed to the PM.
An excerpt from a discussion paper for the Pugwash Conference, Seoul, Korea October 2004. (In the section leading up to this discussion, it is argued that terrorism is primarily a function of states, who have the overwhelming means to conduct terrorist activities).
I propose that a reciprocal relationship exists between State and non-State actors in maintaining the justification of the massive terrorist methods by the State. Specifically, I propose that massive State terrorism is dependent on the relatively small scale terrorism perpetrated by non-State actors. This State-directed terrorism provides the impetus for recruitment to small-scale non-State terrorist organizations (thus stimulating their operations, and then the response by the State).
I would like to consider, then, how this reciprocal signalling system can serve as a framework to understand “the War on Terrorism” and restrict my analysis to the US case given the focus of this workshop.
I propose that the inductive signal in the “terrorist context” originates with State policy. As has been discussed in detail since the events in New York City on September 11, 2001, an apparent long term geopolitical goal of the US appears to be control of the resources in Eurasia. This goal was laid out in considerable detail by former Secretary of State Zbigniew Brzezinski in 1997 in his book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives. Brzezinski points out the massive subterranean wealth of Eurasia, most of which remains undeveloped, as well as the presence of the largest populations of the world. In his opinion, control of the exploitation of these resources relies on the control of specific subregions within Eurasia, specifically a number of the independent states of the former Soviet Union and, especially, Afghanistan.
I propose that the initial signal originates in a series of State-organized events in 1979 which led directly to the “War on Terror.” As articulated in Brzezinski’s analysis described above, the initial “signal” is a desire for access to and control of resources in a major part of Asia and mechanistically involved the destabilization of the principal US adversary, the USSR. As Brzezinski has articulated, the tools for this destabilization included the organization of an irregular fighting force meant to draw the Soviet Union into a protracted war (Russia’s “Vietnam” as Brzezinski suggested to President Carter) in Afghanistan (note that this strategy was not reactive to the Soviet invasion but proactive in drawing the Soviet to invade). This force of Muslim “fundamentalists” became highly trained to operate with the most sophisticated weaponry supplied by various means from the US. For example, the US-manufactured mobile “Stinger” missile system was central to this operation, effectively neutralizing the most important Soviet weapon in the region, their Hinds helicopter gunship.
Overall, this operation became the most highly funded CIA operation ever organized. As is well known, this trained group came to dominate Afghanistan. Importantly, while the leaders of the group supposedly responsible for the 9-11 attacks were not among these US-trained fighters, this region remained a centre for terrorist activities directed towards the US.
Thus, the organization and training of these terrorist groups had the benefit initially of destabilizing the Soviet Union and subsequently providing the basis upon which the US later invaded Afghanistan and Iraq (as well as developing forward military bases in previously inaccessible regions). Borrowing from John McMurtry’s analysis of the 9-11 wars where he posits the question of “who benefits” from the events of 9-11, we observe that the principal beneficiaries of the terrorist activities originating in this region and initially organized by the US were US administrations (Reagan and Bush Jr.). For the latter administration (the subject of this workshop), the “security state” agenda articulated prior to the 2000 Presidential election was in fact implemented. Close examination of this agenda supports the notion that some sort of precipitating event (a “new Pearl Harbor”) was considered as a mechanism for rapid implementation of this domestic and foreign policy scheme.
Turning then to the basis of the misnamed “War On Terrorism,” the tactical aspects were outlined in a number of reports originating at the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Principal among these is “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”. In the principal conclusion on page IV it states the US should “REPOSITION U.S. FORCES to respond to 21st century strategic realities by shifting permanently-based forces to Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia, and by changing naval deployment patterns to reflect growing U.S. strategic concerns in East Asia.”
Repositioning these forces has taken place with the introduction of a number of features also outlined directly in this report. For example, the authors wish to: “DEVELOP AND DEPLOY GLOBAL MISSILE DEFENSES to defend the American homeland and American allies, and to provide a secure basis for U.S. power projection around the world.”
The point here is not to detail the list of policy initiatives which have arisen following the installation of the authors of this report into the administration of the US government, but rather to discuss how terrorism by non-state actors propelled these initiatives forward, providing a basis for a massive State terrorist response. Indeed, the very same document suggests that: “the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”
Such a catalyzing event occurred in New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001, a year after the release of the PNAC report. The results of the horrific attacks in New York were i) a massive violent response which directly terrorized the populations of Afghanistan and Iraq, ii) the death of more than 10 times as many civilians as died in New York, and iii) maintenance of both of these countries in a state of chaos, where viable security and a functioning government are not possible. Furthermore, these events propelled an otherwise unlikely massive budget increase for the US military and facilitated the introduction of “security” legislation (The Patriot Act) that, under normal circumstances, would never have been seriously considered in the US Congress in the absence of these events.
While justifying terrorist activities against the people of Afghanistan was a relatively straightforward task following the events of September 11, 2001, justifying US terrorist activities (i.e. war) against Iraq was the immediate preoccupation of the Bush administration. This effort represents the sort of reciprocal signal generated from the attacks in New York — producing conditions in which the people of the US felt directly threatened. The well-documented shift of public belief that Iraq was intimately involved in the events of September 11, 2001, despite evidence to the contrary and now totally discredited, also strongly supports the Goering “patriotism” doctrine, in which he discussed (off the record) at the Nuremburg trials how States could garner the support of the population for any action by making the population feel threatened. The routine announcement of terrorist alerts in the US serves as one of the many obvious mechanisms of terrorizing the population by the State — many more examples exist.
Despite the public predictions of the invaders being welcomed as liberators, more sober analysis suggested that the illegal occupation of Iraq, privatization of its assets, and ongoing terrorization of its population would be met with internal Iraqi resistance (the ‘insurgency’). These events create the condition of maintaining the terrorist activities (occupation) by the State (US) since the insurgency can be presented as terrorist activities against the “Iraqi liberators” and are easily portrayed as such given the methods available to the insurgents. To counter these terrorists, harsher methods by the State actors can now be employed which further terrorizes the population under occupation. One of these is the traditional tactic used by US-trained military and paramilitary forces in Latin America during the 1980s in which individuals are incarcerated without charge, communication, or medical or legal access. They are tortured for a period of time and then released back into the population. As summarized by Jim Lobe and revealed in, for example, the Guardian, this system of incarceration currently detains and abuses thousands individuals who often return to their communities. This system has the two-fold effect of terrorizing the population into which these tortured prisoners are released as well as providing the impetus for retaliation following the incarceration.
Would State actors (terrorists) actually promote small-scale terrorist activities in order to provide a “signal” for the massive State reciprocal response? An agency charged with this role has been revealed in the US. As was reported by William Arkin, John Pilger and discussed by the Federation of American Scientists www.fas.org. The Proactive Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG) has the mandate to conduct the “War on Terror” with “off the book” operations which will incite small terrorist groups into action. Further supporting the notion that States actors attempt to incite small-scale terrorist activities, John Pilger also reports that Bush advisor Condoleezza Rice asked members of the National Security Council to “to think about ‘how do you capitalise on these opportunities?’” (referring to the September 11, 2001 attacks).
Thus, I return to the model in which State actors, conducting large-scale terrorist activities, depend on the presence of a certain level of terrorism performed on a significantly small scale (“recreational” or “retail” terrorism). The State then produces a response which is amplified by orders of magnitude (“wholesale” terrorism) through State actions. It answers in the affirmative the question posed by the PNAC “Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?” I propose that the so called “War on Terrorism” is shaping the century along the lines of an oppressive security state. I suggest further that this “shaping” i) includes framing the limits of “terrorism” discourse and ii) that the State benefits from low levels of terrorist activities which, once amplified through its media system, justifies “wholesale” terrorist activities of the State but suppresses any notion that these actions are terrorist in nature.
Several videos which have been used in showings organized for public viewing are kept in the SfP office. These may be borrowed by members; the only requirement is that you sign them out and return them within a reasonable time. The office is open on Tuesdays and Fridays 11-3.
The Truth and Lies of 9/11. Documentary by Michael Ruppert, former LAPD narcotics investigator: looks at the intertwining of American financial interests with foreign banks and Saudi Arabia before 9/11. (2 hours and 18 minutes)
What I’ve Learned About U.S. Foreign Policy: The War Against the Third World by Frank Dorrell. A selection of long clips from earlier documentaries about the U.S. attacks on Panama, Grenada, Cuba and Guatemala, plus a look at the SOA and more. The introduction contains a moving address by Martin Luther King, Jr. (2 hours)
Iraq Then and Now: The Unheard Voices of Iraqi Women. A personal account of a trip back to Iraq by a Montreal woman to see her family during the era of the sanctions. By Amira Elias. (50 minutes)
Arsenal of Hypocrisy: The Space Program and the Military Industrial Complex. Hosted by Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. (60 minutes)
A Space for Peace. Also by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. More on the dangers of the Missile Defence Project of the U.S. (50 Minutes)
The Great Deception: The War on Terrorism. An Alternative View. Seven illustrated commentaries by VisionTV INSIGHT media critic, Barrie Zwicker. He confronts the official story of what happened on 9-11. (One hour)
Plan Colombia, Cashing-in on the Drug War Failure. Narrated by Ed Asner. (58 minutes)
Hidden Wars of Desert Storm. A behind-the-scenes look at the 1991 Gulf War. (60 minutes)
Painful Deceptions: How did Osama Pull Off Such a Devastating Attack? An analysis of the Sept. 11th attack. Produced by Eric Hufschmid. (2 hours)
Asking Tough Questions. A panel discussion about Sept. 11 with Phyllis Creighton, Michael Ruppert, Peter Desbarats and Ron Atkey. (One hour)9
Cover-up or Complicity. Produced by Jeremy Wright. Lots of good information and opinion but rather cut-up. Features Barrie Zwicker and Michel Chossoudovsky. (60 minutes.)
The Great Conspiracy: The 9-11 News Special You Never Saw. An update of The Great Deception with scenes from Operation Northwoods, Incubator Babies and Gulf of Tonkin documentaries. We don’t have this one yet but you can get information about it from Barrie Zwicker at (416) 651-5588.
Also note that the Guelph chapter of Science for Peace has numerous videos available on-line at: http://www.uoguelph.ca/~sforp/onlineclips.htm
Science for Peace continues to give the International Holistic Tourism Education Centre (IHTEC) support for their Global Sustainability Education programs, via the working group on Education for Peace and Sustainability.
The importance of the evolving partnership with SfP ensures that IHTEC’s programs are discussed and developed through the influence of several SfP members. The inter-disciplinary big-picture thinking in the various sciences and in systems science has been integrated into IHTEC’s programs. IHTEC’s flagship program, International School Peace Gardens, continues to be nurtured in many schools in Canada and around the world. The linking of websites has been important for teacher support.
In numerous poorer areas of the world, individual access to computers at home is not yet affordable or practicable and internet access is generally unaffordable. However, CDs can often be read at local facilities where a computer can be accessed. A CD of the IHTEC website is being produced for schools that can’t afford the costly internet access, such as the Northern Schools in Ontario, villages in Africa, India, and the islands in the South Pacific.
IHTEC develops R-12 school programs. Anyone who may be interested in helping in this work, please contact Julia Morton-Marr, founding president of IHTEC: (905) 820-5067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On October 13, 2004, a satellite videoconference on “Global Sustainability Education” (GSE) was held, co-chaired by Julia Morton-Marr and Helmut Burkhardt. It was linked to the Interdisciplinary Conference on the Evolution of World Order (EWOC) which began the next day. This represented a major effort of SfP’s Peace and Sustainability Education Working Group as well as the International Holistic Tourism Education Centre (IHTEC).
Also taking part in the planning and coordination of the videoconference were the Global Education Motivators, Chestnut Hill Teachers College, PA, USA, one of the groups participating in the event.
At the videoconference, teachers and students from six universities in four countries — from Canada, Dominican Republic, Germany and USA — were simultaneously connected. The conference established an essential framework for Educational Policy for Peace and Sustainability Education. It adopted a global-scale approach to the Earth’s crises, favouring an approach based upon the Earth Charter, rather than more development for development’s sake.
This first videoconference of our Working Group reached the following conclusions, given here in abridged form:
- that sustainability education is urgently necessary at all levels, and that education for sustainability should therefore be a universal objective of curricula;
- that, in addition to catering to human needs, the preservation of species — biodiversity — is vital, and that all educational institutions should therefore offer courses that focus on this goal;
- that all schoolteachers should be retrained with the above objectives in mind;
- that university students should be obliged to take a Global Sustainability Education course;
Two CD-ROMs have been produced from the video conference, and the conference proceedings, including list of speakers, etc, are available on the IHTEC website: www.ihtec.on.ca
Norman Alcock, physicist and founder of Canada’s first peace research institute in 1960, received the Order of Canada in the late fall of 2004. Norman and family stayed at the Chateau Laurier the night prior to the awards ceremony, but he suffered a fainting spell, possibly due to a “miniature stroke” and was unable to attend the ceremony.
After the awards had been made, the Governor General, Adriennn Clarkson, and her husband, John Ralston Saul, spontaneously visited the Chateau Laurier where they presented Norman with the Order in person. The hotel provided the Prime Minister’s suite for the meeting, and the whole Alcock family and her Excellency and husband chatted comfortably for a half hour as if they had all the time in the world, though in fact the Govenor General and spouse were on their way to a pressing engagement.
Norman and Pat Alcock are members of Science for Peace, and Norman has also been a Pugwash participant at one time. I telephoned Norman to congratulate him on his O.C., and enjoyed a fine conversation. Every talk with Norman is inspiring in some new and unexpected way.
Full text version of all articles from PDF edition is also available.