Reframing the Role of Research for Society
The Club of Rome is widely recognized as the global think tank of reference in the domain of sustainability. In 1968 it started questioning the framing of human development in the modern industrialized civilization, based on the illusion of unlimited material growth, and the (lack of) feasibility of its generalization to the whole of humanity. It acquired a substantial notoriety and reputation through the publication of “The Limits to Growth” in 1972, which sold more than 30 million copies and initiated a global and controversial debate. This contributed to the global awareness about the risks of the dominant model of development and to the emergence of the substantially new discipline of sustainability, and the attempt to develop policies coherent with that new perspective.
At the same time, the Club of Rome recognized very early the need to complement analyses of sustainability based on knowledge provided by natural sciences with the importance of cultural factors. In this respect, the seminal work “No Limits to Learning”, published by the Club in 1979, is still fundamentally valid in its way to approach the “human gap” (between our capacity to understand and the ultimate consequences of our actions) and the “human revolution” (to develop our capacities in a way alternative to consumerism), to use expressions dear to CoR founder Aurelio Peccei.
Structured around the lemma “Emergence from Emergency”, the programmatic agenda of the Club of Rome is grounded in leading-edge systems thinking as expressed in two-legged strategy. One leg is dedicated to influencing policy-making in the context of governments and multilateral institutions. The other seeks to identify and address the burning questions of our time, with the aim of shaping and influencing the conditions under which deeper cultural transformations can occur. This strategy is very well aligned with the principles of BRIDGES.
The Fifth Element
The Club of Rome’s programme of activities called “The Fifth Element: Life for Learning, Learning for Life” serves to engage all kinds of actors, individuals as well as organizations, youth and women in particular, in learning processes towards a new definition of human development. The aim of the program is to take a leap in sense-making, by facilitating the enablement and learning of communities to act by themselves on the existential challenges mentioned above, in ways relevant to their own contexts. The Fifth Element is an ongoing collaborative effort in partnership with global and local players, including the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) activities of UNESCO and the #LearningPlanet platform. This programme also provided the background for the Club of Rome to get involved in the BRIDGES Coalition.
Contribution to BRIDGES
In its contribution to the operational program of BRIDGES as a thematic hub, The Club of Rome brings valuable implementation capacities to the coalition’s mandate. Built on its own well established programs, global scope of activities and diverse modalities of engagement, The CoR BRIDGES Hub strengthens the coalition’s mandate in following dimensions:
- Cross-sectorial, multi- and transdisciplinary bridging between research, education, practice and policy-making;
- Enhanced understanding of pluriversal worldviews and practices, particularly from African and Asian countries and cultures;
- Involvement of a wide range of participants such as policy-makers, business leaders, local communities, social activists, NGOs, philanthropic organizations, think tanks, scientists, philosophers, scholars and artists, etc;
- Outreach and mobilization of networks of individuals and organizations across sustainability domains.
- A considerable level of global reputation, based on CoR´s 53 years of existence and its unique character, built on a combination of academic rigour and proactivity in provoking socio-ecological transformations;
- A proven capacity to catalyze and develop cross-sectorial partnerships at different levels, including in the context of global, multi-lateral organizations.
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