Institute of World Culture

Theme for 2016
Community, Health and Universality

The theme for the Institute's programs in 2016 touches on all the 10 aims in the IWC Declaration of Interdependence. Each aim offers 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”?

Click here to read the Aims and Purposes of the Institute of World Culture

Program for 2016

Community, Health and Universality

Saturday, January 16, 2016
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Concord House, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenters: Maurice Bisheff, Robert Moore, Phillip Greene

"We were born to unite with our fellow men, and to join in community with the human race". – Cicero

What is a real community, and how can one be developed? Are there harmful communities? What is health, and how should it be described? How can the multiple dimensions of health be nourished and sustained? Can an individual be healthy without participation in and support from a community? Are there universal values that can be shared and used to promote healthy lives and vibrant communities? Does cultural diversity help or hinder the development of universality and of healthy communities?

These and other questions will be explored in the opening program for 2016 at the Institute. Three speakers will introduce core ideas embedded in the theme for the year: Community, Health and Universality. Contributions from seminar participants will be welcome. Readings will be posted on the Institute website a week before the seminar.

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Click here for a copy of the seminar paper by Robert Moore on Health In the context of Community and Universality

Sophocles and Plato on Universality

sophocles map of ancient greece Plato

Saturday, January 30, 2016
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Concord House, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Marlin Roehl

The philosophic perspectives of two Greek thinkers, Sophocles and Plato, will be explored in this seminar with a focus on Platonic learning theory and Sophoclean dramatic action. How the logic of metaphysical concepts influenced Greek ideas about aesthetics, politics and moral integrity will be explained. The value of Platonic ideas in shaping “emerging modes and patterns of living” in contemporary societies will be suggested. Acknowledging the value of metaphysical abstraction in classical Greek and other philosophies is a way of understanding how a shared, harmonic, non-violent commitment can lead to a therapeutic transformation of individuals and a “world culture that is greater than
the sum of its parts.” Readings will be posted closer to the seminar date.

Click below for readings to prepare for the seminar:
Plato's Myth of the Cave
Selection from Plato's Symposium
The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders by Jacob Needleman
What is Cosmos? by David Fidele

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Live Performance
To Begin the World Over Again: The Life of Thomas Paine

Photo credit: Tom Dempsey

Saturday, February 13, 2016
3:00 – 5:00 pm
Faulkner Gallery, Santa Barbara Central Public Library
40 E. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara
Live, one-person performance by Ian Ruskin

“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” -Thomas Paine

A live, one-person performance of the life of Thomas Paine by Ian Ruskin will be presented at the Faulkner Gallery in Santa Barbara. Mr. Ruskin trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and has performed this production in numerous locations throughout southern California and elsewhere. He has recently completed a production for a future Public Broadcasting showing. In this performance Ian Ruskin brings Thomas Paine back to life.

In 1775, Paine, a man who had lived 37 remarkably unremarkable years in England, arrived in Philadelphia. He then proceeded to change the world. His pen ignited the American Revolution, defined the French Revolution and articulated the concept of Reason. For this he was nearly hanged in England, nearly guillotined in France and, by the end of his life, more hated than loved in America. He was one of the world’s greatest propagandists and worst politicians, a nearly fatal combination, and he is one of the most misunderstood men in American history. Yet his vision of true justice and equality for all human beings continues to inspire millions of people and his ideas, revolutionary in 1776, continue to be as revolutionary today.

There will be time for Q&A after the performance. This event is free and all are welcome, however, donations are gratefully accepted to help off-set some of the cost.


Click here for a press-release
Click here for a short biography of Ian Ruskin
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Emerson on Self-Reliance


Saturday, February 27, 2016
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Concord House, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Gerry Kiffe

World culture is blessed with the works of sages, seers, mystics and poets from every age and every continent. One of America's greatest contributions to this heritage is Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous essay on "Self-Reliance". In it Emerson suggests the radical idea that moral guidance lies within us and that "the relations of the soul to the divine spirit are so pure that it is profane to seek to interpose helps." What does it mean to turn within? At this forum, Emerson’s ideas on self-reliance will be explored and their relevance to a society of the future discussed. Portions of this essay will be read aloud.

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Ancient Mystery Cults of Greece and Rome
Landsdowne Hermes

Saturday, March 19, 2016
3:00 – 5:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Mary Winder, Santa Barbara Museum of Art

This presentation will cover Ancient Mystery Cults—one of the most intriguing but least understood aspects of Greek and Roman Religion.
Mystery cults flourished in the ancient world for roughly a thousand years, from the sixth century B.C.E. to late antiquity. These cults were an important part of life in the ancient Mediterranean world, but their actual practices were shrouded  in secrecy, and many of their features have remained unclear until recently.  Anthropologists have discovered that intensive communities developed  to support these cults.

In the nocturnal Mysteries at Eleusis, participants dramatically reenacted the story of Demeter’s loss and recovery of her daughter Persephone. In the Bacchic cult, bands of women danced in the Greek countryside to honor Dionysus; and in the mysteries of Mithras, men came to understand the nature of the universe and their place within it through frightening initiation ceremonies and astrological teachings. Thus ancient mythology was preserved and gave continuity and guidance in an era of great social and religious complexity.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art owns an impressive collection of Greco-Roman sculpture and artifacts. This presentation will illustrate one of the many facets of why this art was so very important to the Ancient Greeks and Romans.

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The Culture of Sri Lanka and the Challenge of
Ethnic Conflict: The Lion and the Tiger in the Teardrop Island

Sri Lanka Kandy Temple

Saturday, April 2, 2016
2:00 – 4:30 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Julie Campbell

The unique culture and colorful environment of this island, an early home of Buddhism, will be illustrated in this talk. Often likened to an English garden, Sri Lanka is home to varied bird life, colorful flora and unusual animal reserves protecting several endangered species. The Buddhist influence brought a culture of human dignity and civil peace giving visitors a glimpse into a seeming paradise. Yet in recent decades ethnic conflict between the Singhalese and the Tamils, immigrants from southern India, has shattered this peace and brought violence, death and thousands of refugees to what was seen for centuries as a non-violent Buddhist community. Some analysis of this conflict, its impact and current remission will be offered.

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Universal Values in Well Designed Gardens
Valentine Garden

Saturday, April 16, 2016
2:00 – 4:30 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Isabelle Greene, Landscape Architect, FASLA

One of the bold and innovative designers of our time, Isabelle Greene will share her 50 years of experience with the process of creating. The illustrated talk will reference her accidental start, and something of how her process emerged. Trained as a botanist and later, an artist, Greene began her career as a botanical illustrator, but morphed both these skills into her natural inclination to freely envision changes, which led to international recognition for the force and modernity of her designs. Along the way she picked up courses to become a licensed landscape architect.

Her appreciation for and love of the rugged western U.S. led her quite naturally to design landscapes suitable to their environment (thus pioneering in what is now bantered about as “sustainability”). Her brilliant, artistic use of shapes and colors and Mediterranean plants in unconventional patterns fit the natural contours of the land so well that they seem to have always been there. Her projects include a restoration of the Theater Garden at Lotusland in Montecito; the Silver Garden (a permanent display resembling a desert) inside Longwood Garden’s greenhouse 22, in Pennsylvania; the Lovelace Garden whose innovative swimming pool integrates seamlessly into its natural environment; and the “breathtaking”, modernist design of the Valentine Garden whose intricate use of terracing and water-thrifty plants overcomes the strictures of drought. Her gardens have been profiled in books and periodicals, as well as online. Isabelle has been awarded a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and numerous other honors.

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Responding to Climate Change:
Unpacking the 2015 Paris Agreement

Paris Climate Change Protests

Saturday, April 23, 2016, Earth Day
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Quentin Gee

The United Nations 2015 Conference on Climate Change reached a resolution now known as the Paris Agreement. But how realistic is this agreement? Who will practically respond, and what will actually be done as a result of this Agreement? What is positive about the Agreement, and what are the chief obstacles to moving forward? What current trends may have an impact on the Agreement in the future? Quentin Gee, PhD, lecturer in Environmental Studies and Philosophy at UCSB, will help enquirers probe answers to these questions as part of a celebration of Earth Day.

Click here for summary of major points of the Paris Agreement
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The Genius of Renaissance Music
and Its Place in World Culture


Saturday, May 7, 2016
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: John Mead

This presentation will define, analyze and illustrate dissonance and the evolution of polyphonic form from the Renaissance to modern music. In the 15th and 16th centuries a pan-European musical style evolved based upon a highly refined use of dissonance. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525 – 2 February 1594) became the consummate master of polyphonic (multiple voices) forms. Currently, thanks to advances in music scholarship, definitive editions of a millennium of European music are now available for study and performance. Thereby, Palestrina’s genius has enriched not only Western musical forms, but in the 21st century, world musical culture. Today, Palestrina is performed by world class ensembles as near as Santa Barbara and as far away as China. The lecture by John Mead, a teacher composer and choirmaster, will be accompanied by recorded and live choral expression of this style of music. Recorded excerpts will be played for illustration and enjoyment, and the afternoon will be capped with a live performance by members of the Adelfos Ensemble, directed by Temmo Korisheli.

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Link to radio interview with John Mead by Joseph Miller, The Classical Now, KCSB 91.5 Santa Barbara


The Sufi Inspiration of Rumi's Poetry
Sufi dancemusical notes

Saturday, May 21, 2016
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Fariba Enteshari

This recitation of and commentary on the poetry of the 13th century Sufi teacher, Jala ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, offers entry into a universal path to self-discovery and healing. By exploring the images, symbols and messages in Rumi’s poetry and stories, one can develop inner knowledge, spiritual insight and health, mental and physical. Fariba Enteshari, EdD works as an international educator who specializes in the transformational teaching of Rumi. She has researched how the therapy of Rumi's poetry has brought beneficial and healing effects into the lives of her students.

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Link to radio interview with Farbia Enteshari by Joseph Miller, The Classical Now, KCSB 91.5 Santa Barbara


Humor and Healing
girls and camel laughing

Saturday, June 4, 2016
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenters: Robert Moore and Joseph Miller

Humor is a universal experience that heals as well as entertains. Harry Haller, the protagonist in Herman Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf, recovers from existential angst by learning to laugh at himself. Norman Cousins famously recovered from a strange illness by using Vitamin C and comic videos. Science has made serious investigations into the benefits of laughter. In this forum on Humor and Healing you cannot expect us to be completely serious, but we do hope to make you laugh. The main focus will be on examples of types of healing humor from Mark Twain, Brian Regan, Monty Python and sundry others.

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Therapeutic Strategies for Mental Health
Balancing on a high wire

2:00 – 4:30 pm
Concord House, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Eva Moberg

Living in the modern world is like walking on a tightrope in order to avoid the pitfalls of stress and burnout. Over the course of an adult life, roughly 40% of all Americans and Europeans will suffer from some sort of mental disorder. While pharmaceutical treatment is the norm, alternative holistic strategies have been shown to be highly effective. Rather than becoming identified with the diagnosis or dependent upon the health care system, noetic approaches instead focus on breaking loose from old identities and ingrained patterns of thought and memory which trap behavior into self-defeating downward spirals. Eva Moberg, a professional therapist and educator in the Swedish healthcare system, will discuss tested mental health strategies designed to augment and serve individual rediscovery of the self-healing potentialities that lay within.

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Founding Day Address
Eleanor Roosevelt: Insights on Community,
Healthy Democracy and Universal Human Rights

Portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, July 2, 2016
:00 – 9:30 pm
Concord House, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Jenny Sheffield Bisheff

This year’s Founding Day Address will focus on the bountiful work that Eleanor Roosevelt engaged in for the sake of improving human welfare. Her humanitarian ethic and very direct involvement in local American communities is reflected in her global addresses on the subjects of civil and human rights. She was a voice for reform over five decades, championing issues for women, minorities, and the poor. Looking to the experience of Americans decimated by the Great Depression, she initiated and established countless projects that helped build up communities. She trail-blazed a number of roles as First Lady. During a lifetime of journalistic output, lecturing, diplomacy, and political engagement, she experimented, failed, learned, and became an exemplary public servant. The expansive universality of her dedication to human dignity speaks through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which she shepherded through its drafting and adoption by the new United Nations in 1948.

Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Institute of World Culture
Following the Founding Day Address, please join in the celebration of the 40th birthday of the Institute and of the continuous effort to provide programs of educational interest that promote the possibilities of an emerging world culture.

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Film and Discussion
2016 Summer Film Series

Portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt DVD cover photo of From Mao to Mozart DVD jacket photo for Malcom X DVD jacket photo for King of Hearts

Saturday, July 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th, 2016
7:00 – 9:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Moderator: Robert Moore

Join us in the month of July for a series of four films that highlight various aspects of the human condition, raise questions
and inspire. There will be time at the end of each film for discussion.

July 9th: Eleanor Roosevelt: A Restless Spirit reviews the private life and public work of Eleanor Roosevelt and illustrates her commitment to improving the quality of life for thousands suffering from hunger, homelessness, unemployment and discrimination. As a humanitarian voice for reform she promoted a wide range of projects including community development and universal human rights. Her revolutionary and controversial role as First Lady shows the strong political partnership with her husband during his Presidency while she sought ways to expand opportunities for women and African-Americans that he had not yet embraced. In addition to the commentary by scholars, the film is enlivened by Mrs. Roosevelt’s own explanations of events in her life. The challenge of maintaining an independent private life while engaged in demanding public service is one theme in this film. Another is the possibility of overcoming a difficult childhood and making beneficent use of the lessons of suffering. Her restless spirit is transformed into a boundless source of inspiration for all.

July 16th: From Mao to Mozart–Isaac Stern in China is the Oscar winning documentary of Isaac Stern’s 1976 journey to China to meet and instruct Chinese musicians in Western classical music. What follows is an exemplary cultural exchange that illuminates our common human nature through the magnanimous virtuosity of Isaac Stern.

July 23rd: Malcolm X is a 1992 American epic biographical drama about the African-American activist Malcolm X. Directed and co-written by Spike Lee, the film stars Denzel Washington in a stellar performance in which he really becomes Malcolm X. The film chronicles Malcolm’s early dysfunctional life and imprisonment, his conversion to the Nation of Islam while in jail, his charismatic role as proponent and speaker for the Nation of Islam, and his pilgrimage to Mecca which universalized his vision of Islam and led to his departure from the Nation of Islam. The film has been selected for preservation in the U.S. “National Film Registry” by the Library of Congress.

July 30th: King of Hearts is a 1966 French comedy-drama directed by Philippe de Broca and stars Alan Bates. The scene of the film is a small town in France during WWI. The town has been booby trapped by the Germans and all the inhabitants have left except for the inmates of a mental institution who assume the roles of the townspeople. A Scottish soldier is dispatched to defuse the bomb. On his arrival he assumes the townspeople are just a little eccentric. As the story unfolds in its disarming way, it raises the issue of who is really insane – the inmates or those involved in the conflict.

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Interpreting the Tao Te Ching

Tao character in Chinese

The Way that can be told of is not an unvarying way;
The names that can be named are not unvarying names.
It was from the Nameless that Heaven and Earth sprang;

The named is but the mother that rears the ten thousand creatures, each after its kind.”


Saturday, September 10, 2016
:00 – 5:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Terre Ouwehand

In this forum, Terre Ouwehand will introduce us to the ancient Chinese classic text, the Tao Te Ching, a masterpiece of philosophical and spiritual wisdom.  The Tao Te Ching is well known for encouraging varied and even contradictory interpretations of its instructions.  In her presentation, Terre will explain tools that may be useful in helping us with our own interpretation, provide a historical context and share some of the essential principles upon which the wisdom of the text rests. 

By comparing passages from various translations, she will attempt to show how the difficulties faced by translators, related to the use of language and the use of simile, metaphor and symbol, might shed light on the mysteries and paradoxes contained in this inspiring and much-loved text.  Passages from the text will be read aloud, and there will be time for questions and comments by participants.

Image: copyright Otis Sweat/Otis Sweat Illustrations/

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Click here for Interpreting the Tao - Overview
Click here for Interpreting the Tao - Governing
Click here for Interpreting the Tao - Poem 9
Click here for Interpreting the Tao - Texts
Click here for Interpreting the Tao - Tools
Click here for Interpreting the Tao - Ending
Click here for Interpreting the Tao - Bibliography