Institute of World Culture

Theme for 2015

Exploring the Rich and Relevant Values of World Culture

Welcome to another year of thought and discussion at the Institute of World Culture. As you may know the theme for 2015 is Exploring the Rich and Relevant Values of World Culture. We look forward to your participation in the variety of programs being scheduled to explore this theme. A number of new speakers have agreed to present a program. At our first seminar January 17th, an introduction to concepts and topics illustrating world culture will be offered. Topics on all sources of human culture – artistic, literary, philosophical, scientific, sociological, economic, environmental and political will be explored. A review of the ten aims expressed in our 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 vision and capacity for compassion was expressed so clearly in a letter sent by Albert Einstein to The New York Times in 1950. We are adopting his observations as a source of inspiration for this year’s programs at the Institute.  

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thought and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”
                                                                                                –Albert Einstein

Click here for more information on the IWC Declaration of Interdependence

Program for 2015

What is World Culture?

Saturday, January 17, 2015
2:00 – 4:30 pm
Concord House, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara

A panel of Institute members will present their understanding of culture and the characteristics of world culture. Propositions about how culture is cultivated and whether or not cross-cultural understanding is possible will be examined with examples. The case for the emergence of world culture will be suggested by a review of the topics for programs at the Institute during 2015. Attendees will be encouraged to share their perceptions of culture, cultural conflict, the values implicit in the concept of world culture and the evidence of an emerging world culture. Call Carolyn Dorrance at 967-1055 if you would like to be on the panel or email

Printer-friendly flyer to share with friends

Forum and Film
Forgiveness: A Path to Peace

Saturday, January 31, 2015
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Concord House, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Moderator: Professor Nandini Iyer

An exploration of the requirements for and impact of forgiveness will follow the showing of a penetrating, documentary film on Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate. Recent examples of reconciliation and collective forgiveness in various countries around the world such as Rwanda will indicate how the scope and challenges of forgiveness as a deep means of conflict resolution have expanded. Discussion will include focus on how peace and the emergence of world culture depend on individuals transforming anger and hate into forgiveness and fellowship.

Printer-friendly flyer to share with friends


Macrobiotics for People and Planet:
Ethical Eating, Energy and Asian Culture
ying-yang symbol

Saturday, February14, 2015
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Concord House, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Professor Catherine Albanese

Access to great diversity of multi-cultural food is a popular part of emerging world culture. While Europeans enjoy varieties of Chinese dinners, the McDonald’s menu has become immensely popular in China and around the globe. However, word is getting out regarding the damage that Western, and especially American, food consumption patterns are doing to our planet.  Global warming, water pollution and scarcity, the vanishing of rainforests, world food distribution issues, animal abuse, and much else have been laid at the feet of an immense and profit-driven agribusiness system.  Meat, dairy, and sugar for First World countries translate into poverty and malnutrition in the developing world as well as into environmental abuse everywhere.  As this damage increases and spreads, awareness of the ethical implications of American eating patterns for our own bodies and spirits is increasingly apparent.

Enter East Asian culture with its centuries of developed food philosophy.  In the most salient current version—macrobiotics—Asian, and specifically Japanese-inspired, teachings provide a comprehensive model for returning to a tradition that also provides a cutting-edge intervention for future food consumption.  Based on Asian ideas of the energetic differences between yin and yang as applied to food, climate, and physiological constitution and condition, macrobiotics turns neo-traditionalism inside out to chart a new pathway to human health and wholeness that honors and transforms our planet as well.  With a theoretical perspective that encompasses everything from the energy of the cosmos to the inherent energetic differences between different foods, macrobiotics offers its own “great chain of being” to help heal the planet and heal ourselves.

Professor Catherine Albanese, an Associate Teacher and Counselor for the Kushi Institute with four certificates in macrobiotics will explain how this ancient diet can bring about this healing.

Printer-friendly flyer to share with friends


Forum: Film and Discussion
American Revolutionary:
The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs

Saturday, February 28, 2015
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Moderator: Maurice Bisheff

Constructive change and humanistic progress require people with commitment to ideals and compassionate concern for the well-being of others. Such a person is an unsung heroine, Grace Lee Boggs, 99, a Chinese American philosopher, writer and activist working in Detroit, Michigan for over 75 years. Engaged in the labor, civil rights and Black Power movements, she used her experience and dedicated her life to constructive social change, first as a Marxist, and eventually as a proponent of non-violence as taught by Martin Luther King. American Revolutionary offers us an inspiring tale of how this smart, determined, idealistic Chinese American woman became a civil rights movement fixture from its earliest post-war days and, later, a spokesperson for Black Power. Often the only non-black — and only woman — in a roomful of unapologetic activists planning for a revolution they believed inevitable, Grace Boggs challenged people “to not get stuck in old ideas. Keep recognizing that reality is changing and that your ideas have to change.” Revolution, Boggs says, "is about something deeper within the human experience — the ability to transform oneself and transform the world." Discussion will follow the showing of this 82-minute documentary.

This event is a collaboration with the award-winning documentary series  POV (

Printer-friendly flyer to share with friends


Contrasting Chinese and American Culture

chinese woman with paper umbrella

Saturday, March 14, 2015
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Concord House, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Yan Raynor

Observations of the values and customs of life in China will be compared to those experienced in American society by Yan Raynor, a Chinese immigrant into the United States. Points of comparison will include family life, educational and work place experiences and social roles. The sense of identity and the virtues that a human being is expected to cultivate in Chinese society will be contrasted with those valued in American culture. Differences in basic ideas about freedom, equality, justice, harmony, democracy and the use of history will be considered. References to Chinese literature may supplement the account of the presenter's personal experience.

Printer-friendly flyer to share with friends

Impact of Modernizationon on Traditional Cultures in Southeast Asia

Saturday, March 28, 2015
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Concord House, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Julie Campbell

How have the methods of modernization and economic development such as exploration by transnational corporations, large-scale mining and factory production impacted traditional values and lifestyles in Southeast Asia? Can reverence for the natural world, the use of traditional medicines, the belief in holistic mythology and protective taboos survive and continue to nourish people, at least in rural villages? Will the threats to land titles, burial grounds and fishing rights undermine the traditional meaning of “to belong” to a community and to live in harmony within the natural environment? Can modern education and the tools of ecology management empower those suffering from the rush toward modernization and help them to adapt to change while preserving some of their traditional values and core identity? Will exposure to modern life styles and values lead instead to impoverishment and alienation?

These and other questions will be addressed with the aid of stories, taped conversations and photos presented by Julie Campbell. She lived in Indonesia for over 20 years doing original research and working in Irian, Jaya with native tribes and oil, mining and exploration corporations to reduce the impact of development plans. She has studied the impact of modernization on other traditional societies in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Printer-friendly flyer to share with friends



Reflections on the Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, April 4, 2015
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara

In observance of the death anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr., selected speeches will be shown that highlight his social philosophy and plan for non-violent action. Concepts of leadership, cooperation, equality, justice and true freedom explained by Dr. King will be considered in the discussion that follows the film.

Printer-friendly flyer to share with friends



Facts and Perspectives on Climate Change

polar cap comparison polar bear

Saturday, April 18, 2015
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Quentin Gee, PhD

Learn what are the facts and challenges revealed by environmental science. Topics such as global warming and climate change will be explained in videos along with the perspective of deniers of climate change through human causality. The discussion following the videos will be led by Quentin Gee, PhD and Lecturer & Research Associate in the Environmental Studies Department at UC Santa Barbara. This program offers a real opportunity to clarify your knowledge and thinking about climate changes that are affecting lives everywhere across the globe.

Printer-friendly flyer to share with friends


Tibet Situation: Critical

Saturday, May 2, 2015
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Kirk Gradin

Originally scheduled book revew, In the Shadow of the Buddha: Secret Journeys, Sacred Histories, and Spiritual Discoveries in Tibet, has been canceled.

The documentary, Tibet Situation: Critical, released in 2013 and produced by Jason Lansdell, will be shown. It is a sweeping look at the fundamental values of Tibetan culture, the current situation in Tibet and at Tibetans in exile. It brings together footage from many archival sources both contemporary and historical, and blends them with an informed narrative punctuated by salient interview clips with Heinrich Herrer, Robert Ford, Robert Thurman and the Dalai Lama, among others. One hour, 10 min documentary. Discussion will follow.

Printer-friendly flyer to share with friends


European Artistic Revolution: 70 Amazing Years 1867 to 1937

Chagall, Blue Angel

Saturday, May 30, 2015
3:00 – 5:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Kathryn Padgett, Docent, Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Degas to Chagall: Important Loans from the Armand Hammer Foundation and the SBMA European Art collection enable viewers to take a fascinating stroll through the dramatic visual transformation of European art between 1867 and 1937. This exploration by Kathryn Padgett of the European artistic revolution begins with the precisely rendered Portrait of Mademoiselle Martha Hoskier by Adolphe-William Bouguereau and moves through the many art styles that were established in the subsequent 70 years. Wandering through the rapidly developing art movements during these 70 years, participants will have the opportunity to visually explore the radically changing visual depictions of color, light, line, everyday activities, politics, dreams, and emotions. This dramatic and speedy shift to modernity gave birth to realism, impressionism, fauvism, cubism, surrealism, expressionism, abstract expressionism and primitivism, all of which are explored in this presentation. There will be ample time for questions and discussion at the end of the presentation.

Printer-friendly flyer to share with friends



Film and Discussion
A Remarkable Speech by John Legend

piano keyboard john legend

Saturday, June 13, 2015
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Moderator: Carolyn Dorrance

Singer-songwriter John Legend, winner of this year’s Oscar for best song, shares his life experiences and values in a video-taped speech that points the way to humanitarian leadership.  Citing the love and challenges of family life and the power of music to awaken creativity, he explains the importance of self-transformation.  He then illustrates how love for all of humanity is developed through working for social justice.  The result is a very cosmopolitan participation in humanitarian service.  Join us for this inspiring showing and discussion.

Printer-friendly flyer to share with friends



The Hubble Telescope's 25th Anniversary Celebration

Saturday, June 27, 2015
7:30 – 9:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Russ Lewin

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the major science discoveries of the earth-orbiting telescope will be explored. The spectacular images and findings of the HST have yielded an unprecedented scientific watershed in the fields of cosmology, planetary science and galactic science, including the following examples:
• dark matter, dark energy and the accelerating universe,
• super-massive black holes and galactic evolution,
• ultra deep views of deep space and the earliest galaxies,
• extrasolar planetary atmospheric analysis,
• protoplanetary disks, star and planet formation,
• comet crashes, quasars and planetary nebulae.
In addition, the next orbiting telescope, the Webb Telescope, which will be launched into orbit in 2016, will be discussed. The Webb Telescope will be several times more powerful and scientifically able than its predecessor.

Printer-friendly flyer to share with friends

Founding Day Address
John Muir and the Experience of Wilderness

Saturday, July 4, 2015
7:30 – 9:00 pm
Concord House, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenter: Kim Miller

In celebration of the 39th anniversary of the founding of the Institute of World Culture, a talk on John Muir’s legacy as a conservationist will be presented. Muir’s successful efforts to have wildernesses, such as Yosemite Valley, set aside as national parks under public domain became a historic example for setting up conservation parks all over the globe. Why is it important to preserve wilderness areas? How do such set asides express essential values of the American Promise? These and other questions will explore how preservation of wilderness becomes an essential resource for civilization and mankind.

Printer-friendly flyer to share with friends

The Spirit of Nalanda:
Wisdom and Compassion in the Pursuit of Truth

Saturday, July 18, 2015
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara
Presenters: Jonathan Colbert, Philip Grant, Sasha Colbert

Nalanda is the name given to an enormous complex of educational institutions that grew up in Northeast India from the 5th to the 12th centuries. Inspired by 1,000 years of Buddhist teaching, it attracted students and teachers from all over Asia and was regarded as the most prominent international university of the era. Adherents of Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, and Confucian philosophies lived, studied and meditated together in a spirit of mutual inquiry into all the arts, sciences and philosophies of the time. Taking what they learned back to their home countries they created a true renaissance of a universal culture resting on the twin pillars of wisdom and compassion. The spirit of the education imparted at Nalanda will be explored in this seminar through a multimedia presentation of the key ideas of the most prominent teachers who taught there over the seven centuries of its flourishing. Examples of the artistic heritage of Nalanda will be shared.



IWC Summer Film Series
Institute 2015 Summer Film Series

"The Mahabharata"
A film by Peter Brook (1989)
Saturdays, July 25th, August 1st, August 8th
7:00–9:00 pm
Concord Hall, 1407 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara

The Institute will screen the Peter Brook film, The Mahabharata, in three parts:

Part 1:
July 25, 7:00 pm

Part 2:
August 1, 2015, 7:00 pm

Part 3:
August 8, 2015, 7:00 pm

The original Mahabharata is an ancient Sanskrit epic poem of 100,000 slokas (15 times the length of the Bible). Combining history, philosophy and mythology, the Mahabharata, tells the story of the conflict between two lineages of Indian princes - the Pandava and the Kaurava. Jean-Claude Carrieré rendered this Indian epic into a nine hour play. The film by Peter Brook is a 312 minute version of Jean-Claude Carrieré’s script.

Carrieré, recounting his impression of the Mahabharata, describes it in the following way: 
“This immense poem, which flows with the majesty of a great river, carries an inexhaustible richness which defies all structural, thematic, historic or psychological analysis. Doors are constantly opening which lead to other doors. It is impossible to hold the Mahabharata in the palm of your hand. Layers of ramifications, sometimes contradictory, follow upon one another and are interwoven without losing the central theme." Peter Brook suggests that in the film they “are trying to celebrate a work which only India could have created but which carries echoes for all mankind.”