Cultivating Global Citizens with Sustainable Worldviews
In 2001, Daria M. Brezinski became interim president of Holma College, an English speaking International Institution in Höör Sweden with global emphasis on Environmental Education. Throughout most of her career, Daria had been researching alternative education models that value the intangible qualities of learning such as stewardship, co-operation, morals, ethics, values and manners. In addition, in her view, the entire educational infrastructure in the Western World, especially the United States, is in need of overhaul from an Industrial Revolution mindset to a Global Informational construct. From this perspective, curriculum textbooks and ‘follow the leader’ style of learning is obsolete and instead: value active student/parental/local community participation and interaction rather than top-down pyramid style infrastructures; incorporate alternative to Time Spent Units; enable student participate in the designation of subject matter to be studied; encourage more student questioning and less lecture style; promote experiential as well as text learning; encourage students as supportive participants rather than competitive combatants; promote schooling as a privilege rather than a right (which is less valued). These are only a few of her innovative concepts. In addition to assuming the responsibilities of any college president, a lifelong dream of incorporating innovative theories into a viable educational model was realized if only in a foreign nation.
Holma College’s holistic educational program in personal and global change studies is founded on the following core principles, values and aims:
- We strive to provide optimal educational, organizational and cultural frameworks for the students during their studies at Holma College.
- We strive to create the conditions for students to gain an understanding of their own potential, both as individuals and members within larger communities (local, regional, national and planetary)
- We strive to motivate and support students creative energy and desire to implement ideas, projects and adventures in learning at all levels of their life
- We strive to expose students to the value of a sustainable personal life-work ethic, marked by a sense of personal, social and ecological responsibility
- We strive to awaken a democratic disposition in students, which includes a rigorous and thorough examination of the way we think about and relate to one another as local and global citizens (i.e. our personal and collective worldview)
- We strive to create the conditions for life long learning to take root in our students, through various disciplines of personal mastery and play
- We support a culture of learning, where students can explore what it means to be a whole and integrated human being in our time. Our curriculum of personal development is founded on awareness and practice of the 19 principles of sustainable learning
HISTORY OF HOLMA COLLEGE
Before the turn of our last century, Holma College emerged quietly into the growing field of alternate educational models in response to these and other vital questions. As an independent college with a growing international profile, we strive to bring about the conditions for students to be effective change agents for global well-being. On our campus, students and educators work collaboratively towards personal transformation by integrating mind and body, thought and feeling, knowledge and insight. From this integration, students grow to embody integrated ways of being and knowing that serve them in making essential contributions to our world.
Holma College’s education program explores a broader conception of knowledge and experience than traditional universities. The program is inspired by contributions from a number of international researchers and workshop leaders from various fields. It aims at exploring alternative paradigms to the materialistic worldview that tends to prevail in our modern society.
The courses are designed for those open-minded, innovative, and dedicated students who wish to take part in creating a learning community. The emphasis on creating is important as we expect students to take an active responsibility in sculpting their education. Each year the students are encouraged to contribute to designing portions of the curriculum, which involves leading some of the exercises, dialogues and workshops. Outside classroom life, you can expect community living, group process, and ecological concern will be central to the education here. As part of the communal living arrangement, students and supervisors work side by side to develop personal projects aligned with their ultimate concerns. This creates a learningful environment with a joyful and allowing atmosphere at its heart.
THE VISION OF HOLMA COLLEGE
From the beginning, Holma College established itself in the conviction that a different order of education is necessary to bring about forms of personal and global transformation. We are aware of the need to bring the “real work” (Gary Snyder) of individuals into synchronization with the aims and values of different communities. We dreamed of creating a learning community where gifted students from around the world could work together for a larger common vision of global well-being. This vision contains and holds the differences of cultures and individuals. It would be unrealistic to expect that one year in such a rural environment is going to magically transform each student who comes. However, our students have found that living alongside nature with committed people willing to question themselves, their worldviews and values has been an enriching growth experience: a rare jewel of an opportunity to develop the personal and social competencies they need to make a difference in the world!
The founders of Holma College believed that changing the way we collectively think about and relate to each other and the world is a critical aspect of moving towards a peaceful, sustainable future. Thus the topic of worldview is an important aspect of Holma College’s educational vision. Our “self-worldview” (David Bohm) or mental models (Peter Senge) are a starting point for exploring the causes of our present personal and collective world problems. They largely determine how we perceive and experience our lives thereby significantly affecting how we act in the world. Our worldviews are living perspectives of the world that intimately include ourselves on the level of our assumptions, intentions and actions. Contrary to modernist science, there is growing evidence in many fields including quantum physics to suggest that the so-called “objective worldview” is both limited and destructive. On the quantum level, we move into a participatory worldview where we are no longer separate from the reality we interact with. In other words, the observer of the quantum reality is a part of the very reality he or she intends to measure (Heisenberg principle). Underlying our apparent separateness in time and space is the interconnected ground of existence (Thich Nhat Hahn), “undivided consciousness” (Amit Goswami) or “unbroken wholeness” (Thomas Merton) that is fundamental to life itself.
Presuming this ultimate indivisible wholeness lies at the foundation of our lives, we recognize that the predominant paradigm of scientific materialism is no longer adequate. Why? It does not help us act in accord with the way the world actually is. The shadow side of this powerful “objective” science and technology is the pervasive lack of guidance of these achievements for the sustainable benefit of all humankind. Therefore, we see that a balance is needed in our education that awakens different forms of intelligences (Howard Gardner) and life-skills. Traditional university-level education tends to focus one-sidedly on factual knowledge and overly train the rational mind. We at Holma College aspire to give self-motivated students the chance to move closer to the experience of what it means to be a whole and integrated human being in our time. This includes an awareness of emotional, intellectual, spiritual, aesthetic, physical and social forms of knowing. Our overarching goal is to provide a fertile educational space for students to grow themselves into balanced “life-affirming leaders” (Margaret Wheatley) ready to meet the world’s challenges.
The broad epistemological aim is not to offer ready answers or teach specific solutions or narrow ideologies. Instead, we invite our students into a process of radical inquiry into their way of thinking about the world, while promoting alternative critical worldviews that see all phenomena and existence as intrinsically interrelated (Ron Miller). The point of this ongoing inquiry is to forge an appropriate conception of ourselves and the world. Students develop a changed understanding of the possibilities of personal and social life through such means as dialogue, reflection, meditation, and contemplation. Out of our personal and shared awareness of being in touch with this underlying wholeness, we strive to practice viable alternatives to the dominant mechanistic and reductionistic paradigm–something rarely present in today’s public and educational institutions. Through alternative modes of knowing, students develop an enlarged perspective of how to effect cultural change through personal transformation by transcending the weaknesses of our dominant cultural worldview with the intent of including its strengths (Ken Wilber).
Holma College strives to provide a safe yet stimulating learning environment for students to risk experimenting with ways of ‘being the change they wish to see in the world’ (Gandhi).
CULTIVATING STUDENT SKILLS IN:
Analytical Problem Solving
Service to Community
Oral and Written Communication