Editorial The year ahead – a turning point? – medium and long-term challenges – proposed contents for the rest of 2021 Chris Duke
Foolhardy it may be in this second year of pandemic, but first to sketch how the rest of 2021 may look, if only in terms of this Bulletin. The aspiration at least says something about what this year, pandemic apart, feels most pressing in importance and urgent.
We hope to publish a special issue jointly with the UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education held by two of our most active members. Timed to feed into the 3rd UNESCO Higher Education Conference in Barcelona, later this year, this was to have been for the next issue. With the all-consuming pandemic sweeping Tandon’s India, it is now scheduled for September, as Bulletin No 38. Meanwhile, the UNESCO HE Conference has itself bowed to the pandemic and is delayed to 2022.
Instead, the next issue, in July, will feature a significant symposium on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also delayed by C-19 troubles, which have held back several contributions. The final 2021 Bulletin Number 39 will be dedicated to the world’s most compelling urgency, one we are just wakening to act on and not just talk over: the onrush of an ecological global warming crisis that will sweep all else aside. There’s the plan – let’s see what can be done.
Immediately we have Jane Burt’s report on the recent 4th Climate Justice Extraction Climate Webinar; but first, a reminder to members of the next Climate Justice Webinar, taking place on May 25, again a joint venture with other ALE partners: Resilience or Rebellion?
The title may lead us also to think of many countries where citizens prove both resilient in the face of brutal repression and, when peaceful resistance fails, are pushed into bloody rebellion and either submission or grinding civil war.
These situations are proving, if it is possible, even commoner, yet beyond the reach of a greatly weakened UN (IGO) system of global governance. International and more local NGOs it seems may mitigate but cannot solve these.
If 2021 does prove to be a turning point, this must surely be marked by an at least partial return to effective collective global collaboration. If the dramatic immediacy of C-19 does not achieve this, one wonders what will affect the change, and kindle a necessary worldwide deep cultural change that sits, beneath and yet over, the conduct of our Member States.
Can the shared nurturing values of BLM (Black Lives Matter), women, and climate activists unite and succeed? Will the influence of very young, usually female, influence leaders like Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg, and the energy of the youth masses behind them, turn the tide – and in time? Can older active adults with time and conscience on their hands affect the change through their collective wealth and influence? Where do ALE and LLL come into the picture – if at all?
Please keep this in mind as you use this Bulletin. Together we inherit a great tradition of ALE for shared purpose, and a recently submerged but now again revived understanding of the full meaning and power of lifelong learning (LLL), treated literally, as two book reviews here may suggest. If our work seems slow in impact and permeative only over time and in certain contexts, at least we share hope, a vision, and a longer-term agenda than have most vote-focused politicians; with powerful new ICT capabilities to use for good; for new forms of learning and teaching; and to challenge when misused to misinform.
The aspiration to advocate for and raise the profile of our mission, working more closely together, is shown through the section on global collaboration – We Are ALE. PIMA’s wish to widen membership and so capability, especially involving new young as well as older activist leaders, shows in the new members and contributors in this issue; and in the spread of countries from which we draw news and views, straddling national policy and laws, through philosophy to applied local community action. Please sustain your energy, renew your commitment to ALE within LLL for good, and help make PIMA better. Your thinking ‘outside the box’ is always welcome.
UNESCO will be organising its World Higher Education Conference (unesco.org) in Barcelona and virtual mode from 7 to 9 October 2021. * The Conference aims at breaking away from the traditional models of higher learning, and at opening the door to creative and visionary conceptions that not only serve the current global agendas for sustainable development, but also pave the way for a future learning community that speaks to all, and that is inclusive of all lifelong learners. [* Now deferred to 2022.Ed]