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15 April: Reshaping International Development Course– Showcase for Transformative Integral Education

In Cooperation with the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, and the TRANS4M Academy for Integral Transformation, Home for Humanity hosts this undergraduate university course, that engages with pioneering role models for Integral Development, across five continents – whereby student teams co-create, hands-on, integral solutions with the pioneering organisations. This year’s task focus was to innovate “Integral Regenerative Resourcing Strategies” for all cases - to strengthen the viability and resilience of each organisation. From April 12 to April 15, the intensive of this course took place, with full participation of all five cases.

This course, held at one of Europe’s most prestigious business and economics universities, is already in its tenth iteration, and has become a role model for transformative education. It is based on TRANS4M’s pioneering approach to Integral Development that interlinks inner (personal) and outer (organisational and societal) development. Following the Integral Development framework and process, students are simultaneously exposed to cutting edge theory and practice – while directly working on critical development issues on the ground. Thereby, new knowledge is co-created jointly by the students and partner organisations, which is of direct relevance for the organisations as well as for the international development field at large. This course, hence does not deal with ‘past’ cases. Rather, it is about “co-creating the future”, in jointly with pioneering role models of integral development.

The following five cases from five continents participate, as co-creators, in this course:

Africa: Integral Homestead “Integral Kumusha” (and Nhakanomics Research Center)

Focus on Integral Homestead & Regenerative Community Economics

Website currently built up

Americas: Sinal do Vale, Brazil (and the Agents of Transformation School)

Focus on Regeneration of Ecosystems, Communities & Individuals

Asia: Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka (and the SIHL Sarvodaya Institute for Higher Learning)

Focus on Awakening of All (from Self to Society) Integrated Community

Development / Disaster Management / Development Finance

Middle East: Sekem, Egypt (and the Wahad Learning Farm and SekemSophia Program)

Focus on Greening the Desert and Biodynamic Agriculture

Europe: Home for Humanity, France (with TRANS4M Academy for Integral Transformation)

Focus on ‘co-creating a just, regenerative Earth Civilization’ based on the art and science of integral transformation through transformative education

Here comes a reflection on the course intensive from AMBER DE SMEDT, a student at the University of St. Gallen, originally from Belgium, who acted also as this year’s course assistant:

As part of the University of St. Gallen’s course “Reshaping International Development - Pioneering Practices across Five Continents” with Home for Humanity and TRANS4M, we (I, along with 20 other students) had the great honour of participating in the so-called “Course Intensive”: a week of inspiring sessions and incredible guests. On the first day, Prof. Schieffer welcomed us from Home for Humanity’s front door. Throughout the days, he (and his dog, Che) took us to his home’s surroundings, to the forest, to the water, to listen to the wind, and it almost felt like we were there too. Home for Humanity Co-Founder Dr. Rama Mani and Fellow Marc L’Eplattenier introduced us even further to Home for Humanity. However, we were not only transported to France; with our hearts and minds open, we travelled to Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Egypt, with regular pit stops in France.

Though we might have been quasi-strangers at the beginning of our journey, we certainly weren’t by the end. Prof. Schieffer motivated us to reflect on and share the concerns dearest to us, including the symbols, words, and phrases that mean most to us. This is how I learned that, for some of my peers, reforming and improving education lies at the heart of their passions; for others, it is the integration of immigrants. For me, it is combating global inequality through education. These futures may seem more or less far away for each of us; mine still feels out of reach (and I suspect it will remain so for some time), but discussing it during the course as if it weren’t - as if I would wake up tomorrow and live this future - felt intimidating at first, surreal (in the best way) all throughout. Prof. Schieffer challenged us to commit to shaping our own future, based on the issues that we care about and fuelled by the amazing work the Home for Humanity partners shared with us during the week. We started off strong with Dr. Daud and Christina Taranhike, whose love and respect for each other and for their work was unmistakable, and quickly made us all realise this would not be a course like the others. This was confirmed throughout the entire week by all the other wonderful pioneers who gave us the honour of their time and deep insights into their work and organizations: Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Udesh Fernando, Nilantha Jayanetti and Chamindha Rajakaruna from Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka; Thais Corral, Katie Weintraub and Annia Costermani from Sinal do Vale in Brazil; Dr. Maximilian Abouleish-Boes and Randa Mohamed Wafik, from Sekem in Egypt; Titus Palivan from Bain Consulting, Switzerland … and last, but not least, Pius Leutenegger, Founder of Centro d’Ompio, Italy, who travelled with us through the entire intensive and added his profound wisdom to it.

It is difficult not to be left speechless after such a week, so I will say the one thing I am sure of: thank you.”

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