Global Citizenship Education and Sustainable Development Goals: A Transdisciplinary and Biomimetic Perspective
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Global Citizenship Education and Sustainable Development Goals: A Transdisciplinary and Biomimetic Perspective1
Javier Collado Ruano2 firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: This article reflects on Global Citizenship Education (GCED) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), both in the post-2015 Development Agenda led by the United Nations. Our work is based on the transdisciplinary approach and the principle of biomimicry in order to strengthen the links between education and sustainability through symbiotic links between nature and human culture. The concept of biomimicry seeks to understand the operating principles of life in order to mimic nature in the reformulation of new sustainable human production systems with the biosphere. In this sense, the 2nd Congress of GCED of January in Paris, the World Education Forum of Incheon in May, and the Millennium Summit of New York in September, that UNESCO and the UN will celebrate with their partners in 2015 (in occasion of its 70th anniversary), offer an important opportunity for the emerging global citizenship to change the rules and introduce the foundations of another model of production and consumption. Therefore, the aim of this study is to identify international agreements on environmental and sustainable development, to make a specific contribution for the post-2015 eco-political-educational strategic framework. It is, in short, innovative research that seeks to integrate eco-ethics as a pedagogical practice in the implementation of the GCED: identifying the vital axises that constitute the interdependence of ecosystems to make a biomimetic application in social, political, and educational structures of human systems.
Keywords: globalization, biomimicry, transdisciplinary, UNESCO, United Nations, Global Citizenship Education, Sustainable Development Goals, Eco-Ethic, Big History, worldology.
The era of globalization is in a continuous evolution, like life on Earth or in the universe itself. The network society of 21st century is still expanding multidimensionally at different levels of reality (local, regional, national, and international): generating an extensive network of universal interdependence of political, economic, technologic, ecologic, and cultural phenomena (CASTELLS, 2000). However, economic competition, characterized by irrational growth of industrial societies, has highlighted the unsustainability of the capitalist production system for future generations. The uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources is an international issue where different geopolitical actors (international institutions, Nation-States, non-governmental organizations of civil society, local and regional administrations, etc.) research and analyze for decades the transnational phenomena that affect the lives of people.
In 2000, the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in New York was an important milestone for intergovernmental cooperation that we could compare with own constitution of the United Nations in October of 1945, when humanity was threatened to become a huge atmosphere of “radioactive ash.” The dawn of the third millennium would begin with the agreement of 189 Member States to achieve eight global goals of human development for 2015: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This was a historic agreement where the sovereign states reaffirmed the commitments made in previous conferences in Stockholm (1972), the work of the “Brundtland Commission” and the report Our Common Future (1987), the Earth Summit (1992), the Action Program of Barbados (1994), the Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen (1995), the Kyoto Protocol (1997), as well as other meetings of remarkable connotations.
Thereby, the MDG will be the object of study and analysis in the global political framework throughout 2015. The final reports of the UN will help us to achieve a deeper understanding about the transnational issues that characterize the current planetary civilization beyond their national borders. In addition, the international debate will also be focused on the United Nations because of their 70th anniversary. Different UN agencies will develop commemorative acts through their numerous regional offices located in every corner of the planet. The celebrations will represent, in short, an effort of international cooperation that will inspire the plural unity in the human diversity and the promotion of a planetary consciousness with a sense of belonging to a supranational community with common destiny.
Undoubtedly, the complexity of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the post-2015 Development Agenda led by the United Nations will demand new political formulas with a strategic action plan in all levels, because they are systemic, interbounds, and interdependent goals: as the same neuronal connections of our brains. SDGs are a challenge of global governance without historical precedent requiring new multidimensional synergies of glocal character between global citizens. We cannot maintain the current capitalist socioeconomic order because it is incompatible with the planet´s limits. In words of the moral philosopher and coordinator of the Transdisciplinary Research Group about Socio-ecologic Transitions3 Jorge Riechmann (2014: 24): “There are not natural resources and ecologic space enough to extend the way of production and consumption dominant today in United States, European Union or Japan to the entire planet”. Therefore, the global economic crisis is actually a crisis of planetary civilization. The global citizenship of the 21st century needs new tools to understand reality, and tools to transform it.
For this reason, this article reflects on the concept of “global citizenship” from a transdisciplinary methodology and a biomimetic approach. An epistemological symbiosis that constitutes the DNA of a genuine tool of civilizational transformation. On the one hand, the transdisciplinary methodology is opened to the multi-referential of the three pillars proposed by Basarab Nicolescu (2008): levels of reality, logic of the included middle, and complexity. On the other hand, the concept of biomimicry approached by Janine M. Benyus (2012), who identifies nine operating principles of life in order to mimic nature in the reformulation of new sustainable human production systems with the biosphere.
In summary, our work relies on the transdisciplinary methodology and the principle of biomimicry to elaborate a specific contribution in the post-2015 eco-political-educational strategic framework, with the purpose of strengthening ties between education and sustainability through symbiotic bridges between nature and culture. It is an innovational research that seeks to integrate the eco-ethics as a practice in the “Global Citizenship Education” implementation, because it identifies the vital axises that constitute the interdependence of ecosystems to make a biomimetic application in the social, political, and educational structures of human systems. In this sense, the “Second UNESCO Forum on Global Citizenship Education (GCED) – Building Peaceful and Sustainable Societies: Preparing for post-2015” of January in Paris, the World Education Forum (WEF) of May in Incheon, and the Millennium Summit of September in New York, that UNESCO and the UN will promote in 2015 (along their partners), offer a unique opportunity for the emerging global citizenship to build new peaceful and sustainable meeting points between the cultures and civilizations that co-exist in the Homeland-Earth (MORIN and KERN, 1993).
The Challenge of Education for Global Citizenship in the 21st Century
The concept of “global citizenship” or “world citizen” has been the subject of study and debate since the Stoic philosophical movement approached it in the Greece of the third century BC, in the Hellenistic period. During all this time, many authors over the world have explored its meaning, practices, and applications. Throughout the Big History (CHRISTIAN, 2010) of mankind on Earth, every society or human culture has developed their own ways to organize and manage life, and with that, their own learning-teaching processes and institutions. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the idea of global citizenship has been marked by two major schools of thought: one that supports the economic globalization and debates about international business, such as the G20 and the World Economic Forum; and one that criticizes this trend and aims for an alter-globalization (ROSSIAUD, 2012), such as the World Social Forum with Noam Chomsky, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Ignacio Ramonet, Walden Bello, Sebastão Salgado, Boaventura de Souza Santos, and Joseph Stiglitz to the head. However, the notion of “global citizenship” has provoked an open debate at present since the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban ki-moon, adopted the “Global Education First Initiative” (GEFI) in September 2012. On one way or another, people and institutions around the world are questioning the value and meaning of GCED in the current context of globalization.
Without a doubt, the traditional concept of national citizenship is changing under the influence of multiple processes associated with globalization, because it creates economic, social, and cultural changes beyond the national borders. If it is true that education cannot offer immediate solutions to current glocal problems, it helps to solve them in the medium and long term. One of the biggest challenges of GCED will be, in fact, the process of directing humanity towards new forms of cooperation and democratic social organization, which integrate the cultural diversity in an ecology of knowledge (SANTOS, 2014), and which develop just and sustainable relationships with the environment. But, how could we adopt new human productive systems that do not conflict with the limits of ecosystems to achieve a real sustainability? How could we create a GCED which respects the defining historical and cultural characteristics of each community, and at the same time address the post-2015 targets from a planetary critical consciousness? Could the GCED be able to build transnational bridges interconnecting the nations and peoples of the world without falling into the cultural homogenization of humanity? Could the GCED overthrow the political walls of the Nation-States to open frontiers to an authentic and true global citizenship who can move freely without subdue our brothers and sisters from the South?
Evidently, there is not a magic formula to answer these questions. The problem to create a GCED in the 21st century represents a paradigmatic civilizational challenge which is closely interlinked with the achievement of the SDG. In fact, this is the vision explicitly expressed by Ministers, heads of delegations, leading officials of multilateral and bilateral organizations, and senior representatives of civil society and private sector organizations; gathered at the invitation of the Director-General of UNESCO in Muscat, Oman, from 12-14 May 2014, for the Global Education for All (EFA) Meeting. In the “2014 GEM Final Statement” of the Muscat Agreement” (UNESCO, 2014a) the following articles can be read:
5.- We acknowledge that future education development priorities must reflect the significant socio-economic and demographic transformations that have occurred since the adoption of the EFA goals and the MDGs, and the changing requirements in the type and level of knowledge, skills and competencies for knowledge-based economies. Therefore, we recognize that there is a strong need for a new and forward-looking education agenda that completes unfinished business while going beyond the current goals in terms of depth and scope, as well as to provide people with the understanding, competencies and values they require to address the many challenges that our societies and economies are facing.
6.- We reaffirm that education is a fundamental human right for every person. It is an essential condition for human fulfilment, peace, sustainable development, economic growth, decent work, gender equality and responsible global citizenship. (...)
8.- (…) The post-2015 education agenda must be flexible enough to allow for diversity in governance structures. It must continue to promote sustainable development and active and effective global and local citizenship, contribute to strengthening democracy and peace, and foster respect for cultural and linguistic diversity.
14.- We further commit to using this Statement for ongoing national, regional and global consultations on the post-2015 education agenda, to be approved at the World Education Forum 2015, which will be hosted by the Republic of Korea in May 2015. Our expectation is that this will be an integral part of the global development agenda to be adopted at the UN Summit in New York City in September 2015 (UNESCO, 2014a, pp. 2-4).
Indeed, addressing the concept of “global citizenship” in the future post-2015 educational agenda that WEF will adopt in September 2015 in Incheon, requires a new “reading the world” (FREIRE, 1992) through the indicators that EFA and MDG programs will provide us in their final reports. The complex challenge to build a global citizenship in the current era of information (CASTELLS, 2000) is a problem that goes beyond the ontological essence of human race, implying a triple epistemological, political, and educational reform (MORIN, 2011). Thinking about the value and meaning of GCED in current globalized era requires studying the liquid life and humanity in movement (BAUMAN, 2007), and consequently, the understanding of GCED as a process in continuous expansion, change, and evolution. To do this, we must address the complexity, multidimensionality, and interdependence of global dynamics (economic, political, cultural, social, educational, etc.) from an eco-ethical vision that proposes creative alternatives to change the relations between human beings and nature. To make this “reading the world” that serves to restructure the future of humanity as a species on Earth transversely, it is illustrative to make a compilation synthesis identifying agreements, conventions, and international conferences most distinguished of the eco-politic-educational project that UNESCO and UN are outlining in the last 25 years along their international, national, regional, and local partners:
World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien (Thailand), 5-9 March 1990. With the mission to make primary education accessible for all children and reduce the illiteracy for the year 2000, delegates from 155 countries and representatives of 150 governmental and non-governmental organizations, adopted the “World Declaration on Education for All” (EFA), with special emphasis in the Framework for Action: Meeting Basic Learning Needs.
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), 3-14 June 1992. Adopted by more than 178 Governments, “Rio Declaration” was most popular for its “Agenda 21”, because it contained “an action plan -at global, national, regional, and local levels- to establish a world alliance of environmental cooperation” (UNITED NATIONS, 1992).
Barbados Programme of Action in the island of Barbados, 25 April – 6 May 1994. The conference reaffirmed the principles and commitments of sustainable development concretized in Agenda 21 and translated them into specific policies of action.
World Education Forum in Dakar (Senegal), 26-28 April 2000. In cooperation with UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, and World Bank, UNESCO coordinated more than 1,100 participants from governments (164 representatives), development agencies, civil society, and private sector to work together in achieving the EFA goals. Through the “Dakar Framework for Action” 6 regional targets were identified to meet them in 2015:
Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality.
Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programmes.
Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.
Improving every aspect of the quality of education, and ensuring their excellence so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills (UNESCO, 2000, pp. 15-17).
Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.
United Nations Millennium Summit in New York (USA), 6-8 September 2000. Heads of State and Government of 189 Member countries of the UN General Assembly defined an historic commitment for the 21st century´s cooperation horizons. The Millennium Declaration would establish a global political framework with the major challenges that humanity is facing in the dawn of the third millennium. Recognizing the need to translate this commitment into action, the UN General Assembly approved the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2001: 1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. 2) Achieve universal primary education. 3) Promote gender equality and empower women. 4) Reduce child mortality. 5) Improve maternal health. 6) Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases. 7) Ensure environmental sustainability. Promote global partnerships for development.
World Summit on Sustainable Development of Johannesburg (South Africa), August 26 to September 4, 2002. With more than 21,000 participants, including 104 Heads of State and Governments, national delegates, NGOs leaders, business and other major groups, the ecologist´s discussion was focused on raising sustainable development awareness.
Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI) in Port-Louis (Mauritius Islands), 10-14 January 2005. The result of the Mauritius Meeting was the adoption of the “Mauritius Strategy”, where new priorities of strategic action were established around 19 areas derived from the 14 thematic of Barbados Programme of Action.
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in Vilnius (Lithuania), 17-18 March 2005. Member States adopted the UNECE Strategy on ESD in order to promote ESD in the region. The Strategy was a practical instrument to incorporate key themes of sustainable development into the region's education systems.
UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development in Bonn (Germany), 31 March – 2 April 2009. The conference was organized by UNESCO and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, in collaboration with the German Commission for UNESCO. With more than 150 countries attending the conference, the “Bonn Declaration” would make an evaluation of achievements done during the first half of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Participants shared best practices in the field and developed mechanisms to enhance cooperation in the implementation of the UN Decade, especially focused in the dialogues and cooperation North-South and South-South.
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), 20-22 June 2012. In “Rio+20”, the Member States would launch the document “The Future We Want” to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which would be based on the Millennium Development Goals and would converge with the post-2015 Development Agenda. In this occasion, my proposal “the value of global education as engine of change to poverty eradication and to achieve a sustainable development”4 would be the most voted upon the civil society around all the world.
Global Education First Initiative (GEFI). The Secretary-General of the United Nations would launch GEFI in September 2012 to accelerate the progress towards EFA and education-related MDGs goals. The initiative had three priority areas: 1) put every child in school, 2) improve the quality of learning, 3) foster global citizenship.
Technical Consultation on Education for Global Citizenship (GCED) in Seoul (Republic of Korea), 9-10 September 2013. Organized by UNESCO and the Republic of Korea (i.e. Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Education, and the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding -APCEIU-). The meeting was focused on identifying habilitation requirements to offer education for global citizenship at the national and global level.
1st UNESCO Forum “Global Citizenship Education: preparing learners for the challenge of the twenty-first Century” in Bangkok (Thailand), 2-4 December 2013. Jointly organized by Division of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development of HQ, UNESCO Office in Bangkok – Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) and Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU). As result of technical discussions on GCED, UNESCO (2013) would issue the document “Global Citizenship Education: An Emerging Perspective”, which presented common perspectives emerging from the consultation on the following three questions: 1) Why global citizenship and global citizenship education now? 2) What is global citizenship education? 3) What needs to be done at the global level to support and promote global citizenship education? (UNESCO, 2013: 1)
Global Education for All (EPT) Meeting in Muscat (Oman), 12-14 May 2014. In the Muscat Agreement would be specified with the ambit of post-2015 educational agenda:
7.- The post-2015 education agenda should be clearly defined, aspirational, transformative, balanced and holistic, and an integral part of the broader international development framework. It should be of universal relevance and mobilize all stakeholders in all countries. Education must be a stand-alone goal in the broader post-2015 development agenda and should be framed by a comprehensive overarching goal, with measurable global targets and related indicators. In addition, education must be integrated into other development goals (UNESCO, 2014a: 2).
UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Aichi-Nagoya (Japan), 10-12 November 2014. The “Aichi-Nagoya Declaration on EDS” would serve to demand the urgent need to expand and strengthen the EDS to enable current generations to meet their needs while allowing future generations to meet their own:
We, the participants, EMPHASISE the potential of ESD to empower learners to transform themselves and the society they live in by developing knowledge, skills, attitudes, competences and values required for addressing global citizenship and local contextual challenges of the present and the future, such as critical and systemic thinking, analytical problem-solving, creativity, working collaboratively and making decisions in the face of uncertainty, and understanding of the interconnectedness of global challenges and responsibilities emanating from such awareness (UNESCO, 2014b: 2).
As we see, all the events that UN and UNESCO have developed over the last 25 years have harbored the common perspective to change the direction of world-society toward new sustainable development horizons, present and future. This is a persistent common perspective in the global policy framework that will seek the convergence of specific educational goals for the future during this year 2015. In this sense, the GCED is the continuation of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014), hence our proposal integrates a transdisciplinary methodology to understand the multidimensionality of the human condition/identity, and biomimicry as a symbiosis between ecosystems and human systems (and more specifically between sustainability and education). The Second UNESCO Forum on GCED of January in Paris will be the precursor of the WEF of Incheon in May, and the WEF will be the precursor for educational proposals of the UN Millennium Summit of September in New York. One could say that the challenge of achieving the SDGs represents an open opportunity for the emergence of transcultural and transnational education in harmony with the environment, in order that new generations “co-evolve as global citizens on the planet”.
Effectively, people need to feel like citizens of the world from a perspective of common humanity in the Homeland-Earth (MORIN and KERN, 1993), because the problems of our time (and their future consequences) can never be understood in an isolated manner through a Cartesian epistemological approach, which separates and reduces phenomena within the context of national boundaries and monodisciplinarity. By contrast, future post-2015 educational goals should promote the notion of education as a universal, complex, dynamic, transdisciplinary, multidimentional, and multi-referential phenomenon changing and evolving constantly. In other words, GCED must “rediscover the human being” (ANDORNO, 2012:176) developing a cosmodern consciousness (NICOLESCU, 2014) which understand the human freedom and dignity in its earthly, physical, and cosmic condition (MORIN, 1999), without falling in cultural homogenization. For this reason our proposal aims to integrate an educational worldview where a transdisciplinary methodology and biomimetic approach make up the DNA of a new transcultural tool that serves to support the GCED proposed by UNESCO.
Transdisciplinary Methodology: Towards the Evolution of Cosmodern Consciousness
At the dawn of the third millennium, the understanding of human condition/identity on planet Earth needs an adequate and appropriate contextualization in the universe. When we analyze the connections between the microcosm and the macrocosm, we perceive that human beings are not involved in chaos and arbitrariness, but belongs to the large network of interdependencies, complementarities and reciprocities that constitute life (CAPRA, 2005). The emergence of life on Earth, around 3,8 billion years ago, was a complex process of exceptional natural phenomena, inherent in all living systems. A process which is expressed through unlimited creativity: mutation, gene exchange, and symbiosis (CAPRA, 1998). From a cosmo-biological perspective, we can understand a new conceptual dimension of life, where all living beings share same basis of genetic code: the twenty amino-acids and four phosphatic bases. In fact, the diversity of living beings is caused by the combination of this cosmo-bio-genetic basis.The atomic particles that compose life on our planet -and that compose us-, are born in the first seconds of the cosmos: our carbon atoms were created in a sun before of current one and our molecules were formed on Earth (MORIN, 2011).
This trans-dimensional perspective has a deep ecological and spiritual sense for our worldview because the human evolutionary adventure is the latest stage of life on Earth. The modern human being is a vertebrate animal, mammal, belonging to the primates, which emerged 200,000 years ago. In recent centuries he has imposed its anthropocentric, industrial and capitalist vision to the detriment of Pachamama (an Indigenous goddess known as earth mother). We consume around 120% of the natural resources that Earth Mother regenerats annually (MARGULIS, 2002). Our consumer behavior is immersed in a fatalistic dynamic with a destiny to climate change (deforestation, loss of biodiversity, ozone, etc.), and our own self-destruction as a species.
There is an urgent need to get beyond the cognitive fallacy that the mental structures of social Darwinism and capitalist postulates of the 19th century have historically constituted, because they only understand natural and social systems as warmongers and competitive processes whereby species diverge from each other. The Darwinian concept of adaptation to the environment has become outdated with the scientific demonstration of the Gaia Theory (MARGULIS and LOVELOCK, 1989), which recognizes the Earth as an autopoietic whole, where living and nonliving systems intertwine in the same net of interdependence. In this way, the evolution of living organisms is linked with the environments‘evolution: adapting mutually in a unique process of co-evolution.
The co-evolution recognition as an ontological phenomenon has deep philosophical implications that involve a revolution in the current civilization model of values. We cannot maintain the current capitalist socioeconomic order because it is incompatible with the planet‘s limits. The global economic crisis is actually a crisis of planetary civilization characterized by exploitation and depletion of natural resources. “The only way to continue learning from nature is safeguard its patrimony, the source of new ideas” says Janine M. Benyus (2012: 24) in her book Biomimicry, adding that “biomimicry becomes more than just a new way of looking at nature: its becomes a career and a ransom” (ibidem).
Thereby, GCED proposed by UNESCO requires a new methodology outside of the positivist thought of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which reduces and separates the relationship between subject and object, that is, the hidden middle between human beings and nature. In this sense, the pioneering work “The Manifesto of Transdisciplinary” published in 1996 by physicist Basarab Nicolescu (President of CIRET5), is a proposal in perfect harmony with the paradigm shift that information age of network society (CASTELLS, 2000) is demanding to achieve the SDGs. It represents a new epistemological approach which understands human being as an integral part of the autopoietic cosmic whole, and also houses the ethical imperative to develop a culture of peace. In fact, the International Congress organized by UNESCO and CIRET “Which University for Tomorrow? Towards A Transdisciplinary Evolution of the University”, celebrated in Locarno (Switzerland), participants would submit to the attention of Mr. Federico Mayor Zaragoza (Director-General of UNESCO at the time) programs of action and cooperation between Member States. A statement with recommendations that addressed the specifics of the new transdisciplinary methodological vision that would end up germinating with the UNESCO´s Transdisciplinary Project “Toward a Culture of Peace”6 in full symbiosis with the UN International Decade of Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010)7.
In this context of new epistemological approaches, Nicolescu would present his three pillars of transdisciplinary: levels of reality, logic of the included middle and complexity. According with the last version found in his book “From Modernity to Cosmodernity. Science, Culture, and Spirituality” (2014), such axioms are the following ones:
The ontological axiom: There are different levels of Reality of the Subject and, correspondingly, different levels of Reality of the Object.
The logical axiom: The passage from one level of Reality to another is ensured by the logic of the included middle.
The epistemological axiom: The structure of the totality of levels of Reality appears, in our knowledge of nature, of society, and of ourselves, as a complex structure: every level is what it is because all the levels exist at the same time (NICOLESCU, 2014: 207).
Thereby, Nicolescu synthesizes and defines the three methodological pillars of transdisciplinarity. The first two get their experimental evidence from quantum physics, and the third axiom is also opened for human sciences. In this third axiom opened to the human sciences is highlighted the influence of “complex thinking” promoted by Edgar Morin in his book “The Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future”, written in 1999 under invitation of Gustavo López Ospina, Director of UNESCO´s Transdisciplinary Project- “Educating for a Sustainable Future”. In this visionary work, Morin affirms that “teaching the human condition means teaching the cosmic, physical, and earthly condition of the individual-society-species” (MORIN, 1999, pp. 21-23).
Since these visionary intellectual horizons, all education pretending to be universal must take into account the different levels of epistemological and ontological reality that constitute the multidimensional identity of the individual-society-species: as individual in a local and specific community; as citizen of a determinate society belonging to a particular State/Nation; and as same cosmo-bio-genetic species in constant process of evolution. A human identity opened to the infinite diversity of global citizenship in its own unity as species. At the same way that own ontology structures the nature in different levels of Reality, humans have different strata, levels, and plans of gnoseological perception that structure and concretize their historical complexity in their cosmological context, hence we can also add the identity in the Cyber-Space-Time: the virtual identity.
Thus, GCED pedagogical programs must model the human formation through the adjacent complexity in all levels of identity that human race is composed, without falling in reductionist, one-dimensional or homogenize logics. Our identity is composed from multiple dependencies. It is an original construction of multiples relationships. Every culture is more or less hybrid, mixed, made of crosses, retro-feeds... There are not finished or perfect cultures. Each culture carries with its sufficiencies, insufficiencies, functionalities, dysfunctionalities... “Eco-bio-anthropo-social conceptual loop is a loop in which the thought of natural complexity should allow developing the thought of social and political complexity” (MORIN, 1983: 120). Therefore, it is necessary to promote a structural epistemological transformation that facilitates the development of a complex thought capable to build a new kind of identity for the emerging global citizenship. A global identity based on the idea that humans are part of nature (governed by natural laws), whose historical approach addresses the past of people, life, Earth, and the universe. That is, a transdisciplinary perspective whose dynamic approach understand complexity of social relations of our time with nature, in harmony with the Big History spearheaded by David Christian in his book “Maps of Time” (2010) and theoretically founded by Fred Spier in his work “Big History and the Future of Humanity” (2011).
For the epistemological development of global identity is necessary overcome the antagonistic logics between the contraries that structures of thought derived from Newtonian classical mechanics have caused: subject vs. object, globality vs. locality, liberalism vs socialism, rational vs emotional, affectivity vs effectivity, etc. For this reason it is necessary to understand the second axiom of Nicolescuian transdisciplinarity, that is, the logic of the included middle that Stephane Lupasco (2004) would demonstrate mathematically, because it represents the epistemological key to pass from one level of Reality to another adjacent. Relied on the quantum revolution, the logic of the included middle would overcome the classical logic principle “principium tertii exclusi” proposed and formalized by Aristotle, whereby the disjunction of one proposition and its negation is always true. The ontological structure of nature´s subatomic reality is manifested with striking phenomena: inseparability of subject and object, wave-particle duality, quantum superposition, complementarity, uncertainty principle, wave function, discontinuity, non local causality, indeterminism, etc. In this way, the logic of the included middle would revolutionize the cognitive structures of classical thought -derived from mechanistic concepts of classic physics-, because it would get relieve the existing belief of just one level of ontological reality that served as epistemological configuration for the formulation of materialist theories, religious dogmas, and political ideologies that devastated the twenty century because they thought they were in possession of the whole, and therefore, of absolute truth.
Translated into the educational world that concerns us, where neoliberal globalization has turned education into a purely commercial element (unable to be distinguished from any other field of commercial and financial reproduction) and meritocratic (PISA reports promoted by OCDE represent a good example of competitiveness and international validity), I consider that organization of knowledge derived from the postulates of quantum mechanics represents a bridge between the old logical paradigm tending to reduction, simplification, and contradiction; and a new logical paradigm that tends to a holistic understanding of complexity, contradiction, and interdependence. A good example is the pioneering work that Fritjof Capra published in 1975, “The Tao of Physics”, where he makes an exploration of the parallels between modern physics (especially Quantum Theory and the Theory of Relativity) and eastern mysticism (Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese thought, Taoism, and Zen). That is, a comparison between the Western rational modern knowledge and Eastern ancestral intuitive knowledge that demonstrates how nature has always been present in the rich philosophical and theological framework of mankind during his trans-historic path on planet Earth. Therefore, the logic of the included middle offers an opportunity to build a new philosophical-epistemological approach that goes beyond to the ontological essence of the individual-society-species, representing a creative tool to build new transnational, transpolitical, transcultural, and transreligious conceptions capable to prevent future conflicts and to achieve a sustainable development.
In words of Nicolescu:
The present instant is, strictly speaking, a non-time, an experience of relation between Subject and Object; thus, it contains potentially within itself the past and the future, the total flow of information and the total flow of consciousness, which cross the levels of reality. The present time is truly the origin of the future and the origin of the past. Different cultures, present and future, develop in the time of history, which is the time of change in the state of being of peoples and of nations. The transcultural concerns the time present in transhistory, a notion introduced by Mircea Eliade, which concerns the unthinkable and epiphany. The transcultural is the necessary condition for the existenc of culture. The complex plurality of cultures and the open unity of the transcultural coexist in the cosmodern vision. The transcultural is the spearhead of cosmodern culture. Different cultures are the different facets of the human being. […] The multicultural allows the interpretation of one culture by another culture, the intercultura permits the fertilization of one culture by another, and the transcultural ensures the translation of one culture into various other cultures, by deciphering meaning that links them and simultaneously goes beyond them (NICOLESCU, 2014: 14).
Since such cosmodern vision, I propose that existing debate on GCED does not have to find solutions for the increasingly complex problems that arise in the current economical system of the world-society of the third millennium. GCED should promote the transformation of capitalism´s production system inspired by biomimicry approach. Affirming that economic growth is good for itself, postulating that human quality levels can be measured by GDP and GNP of a country, represent an intellectual fraud of danger consequences in the era of global ecological crisis. While it is true that capitalist system has brought enormous material benefits, its functionalist view subordinates everything to the maximum economic profit and the indiscriminate consumption at the expense of nature. It does not work to debate between communism, anarchism, socialism, capitalism or any other political theory of social organization derived from classical mechanics mental structures (where there is just one level of reality), but to mimic our own nature: “if we want to get along with Gaia, it is precisely how we must see ourselves, as one vote in a parliament of thirty (or perhaps even a hundred) million seats, a species among species (BENYUS, 2012: 24). Why the human species continues mortgaging the future of millions of species by its absurd logic of irrational consumption, which involves the exploitation of natural resources? Why do we believe in the epistemological illusion of unlimited economic growth when it has never existed any living species in nature which grow endlessly to infinity?
Undoubtedly, the creation of a true GCED which pretends to achieve the SDGs implies a radical rupture with the political-economic and socio-educational structures of the past, because there is no doubt that technocratic education, still in vigor, is the consequence of alienating the social organization model that capitalism has imposed, after the Industrial Revolution, in order to reduce students to submissive consumers and passive citizens (COLLADO and GALEFFI, 2012c). Promoting a GCED that encourage the compliance of the SDGs will require a poly-logical understanding8 (GALEFFI, 2001) that understand the interlinks between micro-local-simple and macro-global-complex phenomenon. In words of Educator for Peace Alicia Cabezudo:
Global Education is not only about global themes, world problems and how to find solutions altogether – it is also about to envision a common future of Peace and Justice for All connecting micro-macro perspectives. And how to make this vision real and possible starting from our small spot in the world. (…). If Global Education shift the focus onto the transformation from a culture of reproduction and domination to one of partnership we are changing the general rules – transforming the value system underlying the global economy to make it compatible with the demands of human dignity we all ask for (CABEZUDO, 2014: 22)
Consequently, I propose that GCED epistemological approach promotes, on the one hand, the development of a “cosmodern consciousness” (NICOLESCU, 2014) that embraces the supra-identity of “