“We’ve become something of a bacterial species, and our fingerprints are everywhere. The planet is dying, and there is a need to reform or rethink or out-think the ways we’ve been thinking about the world and our relations to it. Today’s most pressing imperative is to turn to each other.” – Bayo Akomolafe
These are the opening words of my master dissertation research. They are not mine, but pronounced by my friend and source of inspiration Adebayo “Bayo” Akomolafe, in one of the twelve interviews I did for this study. This sentence sums up my thinking and findings in a poetic and beautiful way: We need to overcome the “modernity” paradigms, and in order to so, we need to change our “mental infrastructures” and connect as a human movement to build another world.
I’m thankful for the encounters and exchanges I had through this research process, in particular with the twelve interviewees.
You can download the full dissertation (which still awaits assessment) here:
And here is the abstract:
“This dissertation examines the potential and character of a global citizens movement to address a paradigm shift towards a just and sustainable planetary future, and the role development education can play in facilitating such a process. It argues that a “great transition” is necessary to move beyond the current anthropocentric and unsustainable growth, market, profit and competition based system, resulting in exploitation of people and planet. As planetary democratic mechanisms to address global challenges don’t exist, global civil society is the only force that can address such a profound change process. However, the NGO sector became largely co-opted by the system it claims to change. Relinking institutionalised civil society, in particular big NGOs, with social mobilisations and grassroots experimentation is crucial to build systems of influence that can address systemic change. A multi-layered, non-hierarchical and inclusive global citizens movement should move from a focus on policy change to nourishing radical alternatives and addressing values, discourse and culture that constitute the understanding of what is possible.
This research builds on 12 interviews with local movement organisers, international NGO leaders, global activists and development educators from 6 continents on the character, potential and challenges of a global citizens movement. Three essential elements for the advancement of a global citizens movement are identified: The acknowledgment of the need for a great transition, a changing role and practice of NGOs, and a focus on cultural transformation. It concludes that development education can play a crucial role in facilitating the re-appropriation of political change by citizens if focused on values, emancipation and social transformation. Through such a shift in concept and practice, and indeed the re-linking with its radical roots, development education can move from the margins to the centre of the development discourse and become a central force for transformational change.”