Orientation: Sustainability, Spirituality and Communication
Two days orientation (10 hours) session for the new batch of students of the School of Communication (XCOMM), Xavier University Bhubaneshwar, India (2016). [Orientation sessions are basically to answer the question, "Who is this 'I' who interacts and speaks? From which position (or privilege) does one communicate or act? Has one examined the world mindfully to act or influence?"]
1) Orientation Sessions Guide1) Grounding/Postering
Nurturing silence. Engaging reflection. Guiding meditation. Positioning and preparing for the immersion programme. Getting in touch with a reflective-meditative space. Getting in touch with the deeper silence. Getting in touch with self. Shared self-reflection -- experiences, vulnerabilities, insecurities, fear, hopes strengths.
Where are we now? Why the immersion course? Exploring planetary charms and challenges. Taking stock of where we are heading and why. Critical awareness of unsustainable realities and their implications for the planet and all the living creatures it supports. Understanding the foundational reality of communication and the role of mainstream and alternative media. Asking questions of what we can do individually and/or collectively to address some of the challenges. Starting with self-inquiry -- examining our values, our choices, our lifestyles, our livelihoods, and our social arrangements.
3) Understanding the Notions of Sustainability and Spirituality
There are many notions and perspectives on sustainability and spirituality. These are contested terms. Sustainability is used casually, even for sustaining unsustainable activities. It has "hard" and "soft" definitions, with even some conceiving a scenario beyond what is called 'sustainable development'. On the other hand, all forms of spirituality are demonised in popular media. Spirituality is like a four letter word! Religion and spirituality are conflated and confused. Discussions on the materiality of spirituality are a scandal. We need to explore these realities sensitively and make sense of them. They influence the ways in which we create our world, form meaning territories/cultures and make life choices that have implications for our present and futures.
4) Exploring the Spiritually-Engaged Sustainability (SES) Framework
The future is for us to create, recreate and co-create. There is also a need to re-invent our futures not re-cycle them from other supposedly developed societies. There is a critical need to create a 'new language' to describe the present and the preferred futures we want. People who want to think-feel about sustainability and spirituality need an orientation that also doubles up as a framework. Is there a way to pursue 'socially-engaged spirituality' in the service of sustainability and vice versa? What constitutes this orientation and/or framework? How can it help us, individually and collectively? What alternatives and futures does it offer? Will it allow planetary healing? What will be a media and communication course incorporating a SES look like?
5) Customised Session: Building Planetary Consciousness and Communicative Action
Building on observations from the above sessions, and going beyond blind nationalism and national borders, one confronts the reality of the planet and planetary consciousness. What does this mean in the context of a planet experiencing increasing incidences of ecological and social catastrophes? What should be the spirit of human communication? What should be the global communication agenda? What much be the purpose of the communication enterprise? What does it mean when the challenges the world faces are transboundary and transhuman? How should communication theory and practice respond?
Method of Delivery
Videos. Powerpoints. Lectures. Exchanges. Dialogue. Criticisms. Students Discussions. Group Exercises. Student Presentations.