Institute of World Culture
Elaboration of the Aims




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1. To explore the classical and renaissance traditions of East and West and their continuing relevance to emerging modes and patterns of living.
To strengthen contemporary and emerging patterns in world culture, it is important to establish lines of continuity between historical cultures and the present. Better roots for the future may be put down by examining and sifting the broad perspectives and specific practices of the past, in conjunction with study of present needs and aspirations.

2. To renew the universal vision behind the American Dream through authentic affirmations of freedom, excellence and self-transcendence in an ever-evolving Republic of Conscience.
Renewal of the American Dream requires both a generous understanding of that Dream, and thoughtful applications of its vision and tenets in public and private life. Authentic affirmations call for the raising of fundamental questions about America, willingness to examine various formulations of issues, and for a resolve to test out the implications of possible stands in terms of the universal values of freedom, excellence, and self-transcendence. The ability to follow through in these tasks may be strengthened by continuous study of the democratic ideal in history and those original thinkers who inspired its practice.

3. To honour through appropriate observance the contributions of men and women of all ages to world culture.
Honouring the lives of men and women who have added to the quality of our life both elevates our sense of humanity and broadens our view of the possible. The legacy of noble and exemplary men and women is a great resource for enrichment of life in the present and future.

4. To enhance the enjoyment of the creative artistry and craftsmanship of all cultures
Art, in all its forms, reveals essential truths about the nature of human life. It demonstrates the innate desire of human beings to express themselves in symbols and the rich variety of forms those symbols can assume. The artistic process itself is an aspect of that creative impulse which also inspires the work of philosophers and scientists, as well as that of craftsmen and artisans.

5. To deepen awareness of the universality of man's spiritual striving and its rich variety of expression in the religions, philosophies and literatures of humanity
The effort to live out spiritual aspirations both involves individual expression and benefits from awareness of the common strivings of all men and women. A universal quest for a deeper and abiding sense of reality can be found not only in various religions, but also in high philosophical and literary traditions. Greater understanding of this shared search does yield much needed tolerance. Equally important, it strengthens individual capacities for commitment to self-chosen expressions of ideals.

6. To promote forums for fearless inquiry and constructive dialogue concerning the frontiers of science, the therapeutics of self-transformation, and the societies of the future
Knowledge of greater nature, of modes and possibilities for self-transformation, and of parameters of social organization must be drawn together in contemplating the prospect of an emerging world culture. Intellectual limitation, as well as aimless speculation, oppose this necessary synthesis and may be avoided by a true interdisciplinary forum directed toward a composite science of Man.

7. To investigate the imaginative use of the spiritual, mental and material resources of the globe in the service of universal welfare
Despite the growing recognition of global interdependence in material resource management, there is yet only slight understanding of spiritual and mental resources – the energies and birthright of Man. How these may be located and tapped, how they are to be distributed and used, and how they interact with concepts of scarcity and plenty in the material realm, are questions scarcely even asked.

8. To examine changing social structures 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
Whether it is taken as a guiding principle or a fundamental perception it seems that holistic and synthetic thinking is vital to envisioning the world's future. The method of extrapolation of particulars is of limited validity when seeking to grasp the global closure of numberless lines of thought and action. The intelligent integration of changing social structures into a genuine world civilization requires a high precision of thought applied to an ever-refining sense of the logic of social life.

9. To assist in 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
World culture and civilization will always depend upon the existence of men and women able to see themselves and all others as citizens of the world. Education is, therefore, the invisible thread that binds together all genuine attempts to advance universal culture, and the continuous unfolding of the potentials of the mind, heart and soul is both the substance and the object of world culture.

10. To promote universal brotherhood and to foster human fellowship among all races, nations and cultures
Above all, universal brotherhood is the sovereign guiding principle and aim of all Institute activities. the Institute is a synthesizing agent intended to assist men and women to become more creative citizens of their own countries by becoming citizens of the world. This global awareness is a precondition for the emergence of an organic and viable range of interdependent social structures of the future. The aims of the Institute merge in the furtherance of this awareness among all men and women of good will.

Reflections on the Aims and Principles of the Institute of World Culture
The following statement was given by the speaker, Jonathan Colbert, at the conclusion of his Founding Day Address, June 29, 2019. It offers a remarkable vision of the aims and principles of the Institute that has been offering programs for 43 years. Since the Institute was inaugurated on July 4, 1976, the Founding Day Address traditionally honors a thinker or a writer who has contributed to the vision and promise of the American Republic and to the application of Aim 2* in “The Declaration of Interdependence.”

Every year we choose a theme that reflects one of the many remarkable aims of the Institute of World Culture. The theme for 2019 is Freedom, Excellence and Self-Transcendence, all of which are certainly exemplified in the writings of Ursula K. Le Guin. She offers an imaginative  “Speculative Vision” of  the founding promise and universal value of American ideals. The Ten Aims of “The Declaration of Interdependence” express universal principles that not only guide inquiry and foster understanding, but they inspire creative emulation in the living present. The journeys that her characters take reflect the human potential for freedom, individuation and self-transcendence. This potential is the source of equality shared by all.
The virtue of universal principles is that they integrate diversity. They are quintessentially harmonic. They bring order to chaos, concord to cacophony and a sense of community to strangers and the estranged. universal principles build bridges of understanding that span cultures and eras. Most importantly, universal principles imaginatively integrate perceived differences without subtracting from the relative truth of those differences. Each perspective enriches the whole -- even though the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. For this reason, with Le Guin‘s writings, and with the insights of her anthropologist’s eye, we can imagine and appreciate the particular merits of any given system of thought, political arrangement or cultural practice without giving it our total allegiance.
The Institute of World Culture invites us to study the past in order to assess the present from multiple standpoints. In the spirit of fostering universal brotherhood, its programs seek to visualize a future that is rooted in what is inclusive and regenerative in the philosophies, religions and literatures of humanity. You could say that Le Guin was promoting universal brotherhood by imaginatively envisioning different possible utopian social structures that might foster men and women of non-violence of mind, generosity of heart and harmony of soul.  

*Aim 2:  To renew the universal vision behind the American Dream through authentic affirmations of freedom, excellence and self-transcendence in an ever-evolving Republic of Conscience.