Capacity building requires forums in which space has been created for learning about the betterment of society. Open forums for discourse can accompany and assist undergraduate students through their four years of university studies. Through an ongoing cycle of study, consultation, action and reflection, youth between the ages of 18 and 25 can learn more about who they are, what type of life they are leading, and the significance of engagement towards social change. In such settings people with potential learn about the dynamics of their engagement in social action and about the issues confronting prevalent discourses. They develop capacity to reflect, analyze, and learn from study and from ongoing action. Important in this process is the erection of essential elements constituting their conceptual framework. It is through some type of structure in the values and mind that people contribute to their families, neighborhoods, communities, and civic engagements. This structure is constant, but evolving. This structure encapsulates their principles. This structure allows progress to circumvent problems associated with whimsical decision-making or changes in mood and environment. Principles and scruples are as indispensable to productivity in the workplace as they are to advance in the social and intellectual setting. It, is after all, through the sum of multiple individual’s conscientious striving that we advance as a civilization. In this way, on a personal level, we acquire the tools necessary to decipher and understand the complex mesh of intentions and realities we are inundated with in popular culture. Such tools include the ability to disentangle, understand and contextualize undergraduate university hierarchies and course content. Most people come to recognize the less than flawless value system that went into the design of their university courses and majors. Undergraduate students engaging in this forum, then, emerge with a sense of responsibility to assume ownership for their own education. This spiritual and intellectual empowerment is the agency by which we seek out and acquire the kind of knowledge necessary to live productive, contributory, and meaningful lives.
In reference to human potential it has been said, “Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit there from.”
Education is a fundamental right and duty of every soul. Education allows each person to manifest justice – to be able to see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears. It is by education that we learn to understand the world around us and to articulate the inspiration we find within ourselves. True education is a cause of humility; by it a person learns their finitude and takes up their duty to serve others. In this way, true education bestows wisdom upon an individual. False education serves the ego and cultivates attitudes of superiority and aloofness, and the knowledge acquired is used in improper ways. The acquisition of knowledge should be guided by our twofold moral purpose: developing the latent capacities of an individual, and empowering the individual to carry forward the very lofty task of civilization-building. Without education we are deprived of the powers of thought, articulation, and consultation which allow for the generation of knowledge, it’s application in our lives, and its diffusion to others; without education, we are deprived of fully manifesting our human nature and participating in the central process of social existence.
Consider the importance of education as a human right and duty, and the role of the denial of education in situations of oppression.
What are the signs of a well-educated person, and by what means have they acquired knowledge? For what do they use knowledge?
A culture of learning that operates through study, consultation, action, and reflection, depends on empowerment and capacity building on the level of both the individual and the institutions of society.
Individually, all are responsible to participate in the generation and application of knowledge according to each’s unique talents and capacities. Contrasted to current society’s depiction of education and learning as a filling information into the empty minds of passive recipients, a culture of learning recognizes the innate capacities of creativity, insight, and intelligence of all individuals. Opportunities must be created to develop these latent capacities towards the end of generating and applying knowledge for the betterment of the world.
Institutional capacity must also be developed – both creating systems which foster the empowerment of individuals through manifesting their latent capacities of knowledge generation, as well as consolidating, integrating, and diffusing generated knowledge. Learning is a collective enterprise, as consultation thrives on diverse perspectives and views from many individuals. Thus, not only does the role of institutions becomes the empowerment of all to contribute to learning, but to distill and synthesize knowledge generated from diverse settings and contexts. Knowledge propels the advance of civilization – the goal being a world civilization. Knowledge, therefore, has a global dimension, and institutions must discern universal patterns from local insights. Of particular significance is the impact these concepts have on the educational systems of the world. They need to be concerned with empowering students to be active participants in a process of generating and applying knowledge – not receptacles of others’ learning; and they need to compare knowledge from diverse contexts, identify patterns, and disseminate learning. In these ways will institutions be empowered themselves to guide a global collective learning process towards building a world civilization.
The advancement of civilization is propelled through increases in knowledge, as has been mentioned multiple times in previous posts. Every human being is a protagonist of humanity’s maturity, and all can contribute through a process of building on their latent capacities. Empowerment – which is a manifestation of justice – happens through knowledge, both of self and of reality. Thus, the generation, application, and diffusion of knowledge is not only a duty upon every person, but central to social life.
On a spiritual level, intellectual investigation, the use of the mind, and expansion of consciousness are unique spiritual endowments associated with powers of the soul. Science is the first emanation of God to humanity, and the capacity of understanding is one of God’s greatest gifts to us.
Developing our latent capacities and acquiring knowledge can only occur through a process of education. Our current educational systems – which have assumed responsibility for this process – are increasingly conceived in fragmented ways. Little wonder, then, that education is seen as a means to secure a job to uphold an economic status quo; that academia has become preoccupied with tending to its machinery of dissertations, publication credits, and grants; that learning is divorced from the values that underlie it.
What type of knowledge is useful? How can we develop a coherent understanding of the transformative potential of knowledge? How do we foster a culture of learning? How can empowerment and capacity building be fostered?