It’s been one year since I cashed in my early retirement in order to start a new school that by August became known as, The Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS). Here are six basic lessons I’ve learned.
Lesson 1: For the most part, “multiculturalism” as presented in privileged spaces in universities in the States is a farce and toxic. Actually engaging with otherness, diversity, poverty, and struggles outside these elite posh spaces of universities not only does not exist but the sterilized presentation of other cultures, ethnicities, histories and so forth is a mockery and just insulting. Universities have taken on a zoo like effect in which the student is able to engage with otherness but from a safe distance that, by definition, neutralizes issues like poverty, women’s struggles, and political resistance, turning them into pleasantries. What this means is that otherness is really just a projection of one’s own privilege–the other is violently turned into the same.
Lesson 2: Just because a theorist or professor writes about global inequality, poverty or is a self-proclaimed “feminist” or some other “ist” doesn’t make them an advocate for justice and equality.
Lesson 3: There is a need to create a space in which education can no longer hide behind the Ivory-Tower walls of privilege and protection. We live in a world in which we are all part of each other, but to truly be part of a global community we need to be able to share in each other’s struggles and joys. We need to hear voices from different parts of the world in which struggles are happening. In this way, one’s own presuppositions are challenged and a new form of a wider consciousness opens up so that actions and ideas are not disjointed from each other but work together to better our world as we draw strength from each other.
Lesson 4: By creating educational classrooms in different parts of the world in which struggles are taken place a real from of knowledge and action comes to the fore creating a solidarity among each other. Strength is found, joy is discovered.
Lesson 5: Diversity and inclusion is necessary for education to thrive. By diversity, I mean most especially, economic diversity–class representation in ratio to how the world is divided with the majority of the world’s population steeped in poverty struggling each day for basic needs: food, clean water, shelter. A school should be devoted to health above all: health for our planet, health for each person, health for communities working together to make our planet a safe place to dwell.
Lesson 6: Starting a non-profit school is very difficult and for it to survive there must be a community that supports it from it’s missional and materialist point of view.
Let’s unite to really believe in education and action not just continue paying $50,000/year to protect students (and faculty) from really confronting the world’s lack of health. Learning the truth of the real issues will only bring us joy as we organize ways of living well in community otherwise known as Planet Earth.