Values, Citizenship, and Leadership

Fostering Principled Leadership & Compassionate Citizenship through Values Based Education.

How might the Bhutanese concept of Gross National Happiness, an indicator of social and economic progress designed to measure a nation’s overall quality of life, serve to shape educational reform and progress in the 21st century?

How might schools encourage and promote within young people a thoughtful and compassionate approach to both leadership and citizenship? What are the qualities of leading edge curriculum and instructional practices that value the spiritual, ethical, and psychosocial development of young people, in conjunction with the mastery of core content and the fostering of essential skills? How do we foster in young people the kind of emotional resiliency to risk failure in confronting the challenges that lie before them, as well as, the moral integrity needed to make sustainable happiness a real possibility in today’s world?

One of the challenges of globalization is the desire of many nations to modernize without sacrificing their unique cultural heritage while at the same time fostering the kind of principled leadership needed to confront the myriad challenges associated with rapid social, political, economic, and technological change.  In Bhutan, GNH represents a journey to find the “middle path” to economic prosperity – one that doesn’t sacrifice the country’s deep-seated traditions in the name of economic progress.

On February 22, 1990, Vaclav Havel, the onetime playwright who became the first President of Czechoslovakia after the fall of the Soviet Union, spoke at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  In his speech, A Long way From the Family of Man, he examines the clashing interests of globalization and cultural tradition.

“It is my belief that [Globalization] contains a clear challenge to [the people of the world] to start understanding [themselves] as a multicultural civilization, whose meaning lies not in undermining the individuality of different cultures and civilizations but in allowing them to be more completely themselves. This will only be possible if we all accept a basic code of mutual co-existence, one that will enable us to go on living side by side….  But is humanity capable of such an undertaking? Is it not a hopelessly utopian idea?”

In this strand, educators from Bhutan, Canada, and the United States will speak to how a 21st century education might prepare young people to address this very real challenge facing the world’s people.

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