2021 – Universal Symbols of Transformation and Renewal
Symbols invite thought about creative connections between universal ideas and practical action. Symbols, although abstract, may be interpreted in ways that tach about the causes of social conditions and the experiences of individual life. Understanding symbols may awaken the imagination and break open the mental and moral obstacles that trap us in stress and conflict. Thus, exploring the meaning and use of symbols may lead to commitments that are transformative within the individual and that spark renewal within society.
2020 – The Quest for a Harmonious and Regenerative World Culture
All the aims in the Declaration of Interdependence recognize the possibility of an emerging world culture, but what is a world culture? How can harmony and regeneration be part of its development? A world culture is different than the collection of interactions around the world that show merely interdependence and global impact. A culture expresses and reflects shared values, ethical principles and behavior that serve humanity and all of nature as well. Is there, for example, a shared value emerging globally on the need to fundamentally transform our view of nature in order to respond effectively to climate change with specific policies? Other examples of an emerging world culture are arising from the creativity of people from all over the world who are sharing their vision, their knowledge and their global innovations in science, technology, non-violent conflict resolution, economic development, health care, education and the arts such as music, literature, and drama.
2019 – Freedom, Excellence and Self-Transcendence
These core ideas point to fundamental potentials in human beings. Each can be used to develop inner qualities of character in an individual, and each can be used to contribute to the culture of a society. Together these ideas interact and nourish cultures. In time, a world culture can emerge from the authentic development and use of these ideas. All of the 10 Aims in the Declaration of Interdependence will offer seed ideas for the programs, but Aims #2 and #9 were particularly relevant to this year's theme.
2018 – Exploring Universal Ideas Expressed in Cultural Arts
The theme for 2018 included all of the ten aims expressed in the Institute of World Culture's Declaration of Interdependence. It offered seed ideas for the programs, but aims #3, to honor through appropriate observance the contributions of men and women of all ages to world culture, and #4, to enhance the enjoyment of the creative artistry and craftsmanship of all cultures, received particular attention.
(Click here to see all 10 aims).
2017 – Fostering Human Fellowship through Global Conversations and Creative Innovation
2016 – Community, Health and Universality
The theme for the Institute's programs in 2016 touched on all the 10 aims in the IWC Declaration of Interdependence. Each aim offered seed ideas for the year's forums, seminars, study circles and films. Probing such topics as fearless and constructive dialogue on the frontiers of science, the therapeutics of self-transformation and the visualization of societies of the future will encourage fresh thinking on how healthy and effective communities, locally and globally, can be developed. Responses to environmental degeneration and the unhealthy living conditions it causes will be formulated by investigating “the more imaginative use of the spiritual, mental and material resources of the globe in the service of universal welfare”. The changing social structures that seem to include great displacement and violence in the contemporary world will be examined “in terms of the principle that a world culture is greater than the sum of its parts and to envision the conditions, prospects and possibilities of the world civilization of the future”. How can “the emergence of men and women of universal culture, capable of continuous growth in non-violence of mind, generosity of heart and harmony of soul help in promoting universal brotherhood and fostering fellowship among all races, nations and cultures”?
2015 – Exploring the Rich and Relevant Values of World Culture
A review of the ten aims expressed in the Institute of World Culture's Declaration of Interdependence could offer insights into the constitutive values of an emerging world culture. In this time of disturbance and great suffering throughout the world, the Institute can be a calm center of humanitarian thought and constructive vision. The proposition that ideas can change the world is more evident than cursory news may indicate. The opportunity for growth in our collective vision and capacity for compassion was expressed so clearly in a letter sent by Albert Einstein to The New York Times in 1950. IWC is adopting his observances as a source of inspiration for this year's programs at the Institute.
2014 – Fostering Freedom and Fellowship in a Changing World
In the pursuit of Aim #10 of the Declaration of Interdependence, the programs of the Institute of World Culture will focus on the theme Fostering Freedom and Fellowship in a Changing World. Freedom is the clarion call expressing the aspirations of many around the world who are demanding change in social, economic and political arrangements. Yet, fellowship is needed to guide and use freedom to nuture cooperative, non-violent means of promoting the welfare of each and all in the emerging global community.
2013 – Global Frontiers of Science and Society
In the pursuit of Aim #6 of the Declaration of Interdependence, "To promote forums for fearless inquiry and constructive dialogue concerning the frontiers of science, the therapuetics of self-transformation, and the societies of the future", the programs of the Institute of World Culture will focus on the theme Global Frontiers of Science and Society. The program will present examples of recent scientific discoveries and social transformations that impact our intensely interdependent world. Behind the ceaseless news about conflict and deprivations, there are many pioneers seeking improvement in human welfare and promoting an emerging world culture. Moving from experimental vision to therapeutic applications of new knowledge is part of the exciting challenges of our time.
2012 – Global Renaissance of the American Dream
The 2012 Program considered Aim #2 of the IWC Declaration of Interdependence, “To renew the universal vision behind the American Dream through authentic affirmations of freedom, excellence and self-transcendence in an ever-evolving Republic of Conscience." This aim has never been the focus of a year-long study at the Institute, but the dramatic uprisings in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as the expected debates during the American electrion cycle, invite an expanded understanding of the deep and universal values embedded in the Founding Vision of the American Republic. Thousands are risking their lives to affirm these values, just as Tom Paine predicted, but the central question is how can demands for freedom, equality and social justice be put into practice for the sake of universal welfare. What the protestors seek is a wide range of opportunities for freedom, self-definition and social-political transformation. Accordingly, the Institute program for 2012 will be wide ranging with forums on art, music, literature, architecture, and sports, as well as leadership, civil religion and the challenges of promoting equality. In April, the Institute will sponsor a dialogue among several prominent scholars with knowledge of the Arab uprising and experience with conflict resolution. The central question for the dialogue will be The Global Reach of the Arab Uprising. Other speakers are being invited to present on the universality of the values in the American Founding Vision.
2011 – New Learning: Pathways to Global Culture
The theme for 2011 is taken from Aim # 9 of the IWC Declaration of Interdependence, “To assist in the emergence of men and women of universal culture, capable of continuous growth in non-violence of mind, generosity of heart and harmony of soul. "The New Learning" published in the book, Novus Ordo Seclorum, authored and edited by the co-founder of the Institute, Professor Raghavan Iyer. Written as a response to "The Global 2000 Report to the President: Entering the Twenty-First Century", the article highlights several challenges and opportunities that Americans and their government could use to engage in effective and responsible global citizenship. This forum will provide a framework for the subsequent programs in 2011 and include discussion of practical principles of life-long learning and the globalization of American public opinion.
“Once the idea takes root that Lifelong Learning is the vital prerequisite to a meaningful and satisfying life, then there can be a significant shift from compensatory acquisitiveness to a broader and nobler conception of human potentials and attainments.”
– Raghavan Iyer
2010 – Pioneers of World Culture
The 2010 program considered Aim #3 of the IWC Declaration of Interdependence, “To honour through appropriate observance the contributions of men and women of all ages to world culture”. The third aim of the Institute’s Declaration of Interdependence reminds us that world culture does not just emerge as a plant from the ground, however nourishing the soil. It takes the imagination and courage of human beings to create culture, whether by the articulation of principles, the expression of values or by engagement in action. From human intentions and deliberate actions, specific forms such as artistic compositions, ethical practices and constructive institutions are brought into view for the education and enjoyment of others. Through sharing a vision of possibilities for enlightened living a culture is created. We learn culture from our perception and experience of what others have created, and we may be inspired to make our own contributions through experiment and a fresh definition of values. Since world culture is only embryonic at this time, those who are helping to create world culture invite us to learn more than the conventional modes taught through traditional socialization. We are invited to become pioneers in a fascinating enterprise of our era by imaginative thinking and empathetic vision expressed, for example, in the other aims of the Institute’s Declaration of Interdependence. A first step in this undertaking is to honor by study and use the contributions of those who have gone before and can be viewed as heroes. To this end, the Institute’s programs in 2010 will focus on several pioneers, past and present, from several continents and cultures. Please join us in this journey that combines biography, history, intellectual creativity, political engagement and enthusiasm for a future in which lives are lived with the support of a nourishing world culture.