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Inside this Issue


This issue of Cadmus explores the nexus between three critically important institutions of contemporary society—democracy, economy and education—in an age of increasing speed, interconnectedness, complexity and uncertainty. The democratic social compact is under threat. Rising levels of unemployment, inequality and economic insecurity are undermining confidence in the wisdom and fairness of the market economy. In politics, increasing polarization, populism and retreat from globalization pose serious challenges to prevailing theory and public policy. The neoliberal economic philosophy long heralded as a bulwark for freedom is increasingly perceived as a threat to individual security and social stability. The democratization of social power associated with the spread of education and electronic communications is being undermined by an increasing concentration of economic power, under-regulated international markets, globally dominant corporations, and money in politics.

Recent developments are symptoms of our intellectual and practical struggle to navigate the challenges and opportunities posed by rapid social evolution. The rise of Cold War rhetoric is the result of flawed theories and failed policies, which signal the need for new ideas, fresh perspectives and new modes of thinking to replace the simplistic reductionism and polarization of choices that characterize the prevailing orthodoxies of a bygone era. The articles in this issue represent a more synthetic mode of thinking that seeks for truths to complete and complement other truths rather than compete, deny and replace other valid viewpoints.

There is an urgent need for new thinking and new knowledge which cannot be discovered by detailed analysis of more data or arrived at by partial fragmented theories. The discipline-based study of global processes needs to be complemented by a serious endeavor to decipher the deeper forces and characteristics of humanity’s continued evolution from isolated separate units to an increasingly interconnected and integrated global society. It needs to encompass within a single panorama the physical, economic, political, social, cultural and psychological dimensions of the movement. It needs to transcend the limitations of cultural bias to perceive the riches of cultural diversity being shaped by the meeting and melding of diverse perspectives. It needs to replace the long, slow, clumsy trial and error movement with actions founded on a clearer, more consistent, coherent and conscious understanding of social evolution.

Education is humanity’s most sophisticated institution for conscious social evolution. Yet, education itself is under siege and struggles to adapt to rapidly changing societal needs. Advances in science and technology are rendering existing knowledge and skills obsolete. More education is no longer assurance of higher achievement and future security. Employers are looking for people who can cooperate, adapt, innovate and create, rather than follow instructions and repeat what they were taught. Today’s knowledge is not sufficient to guide and support youth during the rapid social transition now underway. Radical change is needed in educational objectives, content, pedagogy and delivery systems.

The issues addressed in this issue reflect the content of discussions in recent and upcoming activities of the World Academy of Art & Science and the World University Consortium.

The Editors