Dr Peter Hayward
In the Master of Science in Strategic Foresight offered at Swinburne University in Australia the first year of a student’s study is concluded with the subject ‘Dimensions of Global Change’. After studying the history, the methods and the use of futures methods, students are then exposed to the idea of the ‘constructedness’ of theories of social change. An outcome of this subject is for students to become aware of the deep macrohistorical processes that shape and contour both ‘presents’ and ‘futures’.
P.R. Sarkar’s ‘Social Cycle’ elegantly demonstrates how easily ‘social roles’ are adopted and how these roles bring forth partial and limited understandings of change and change processes. Both as a macrohistorical model of social change and the embodiment the process of social construction it is a pivotal learning element in the subject. Ken Wilber suggests that developing an ‘integral’ or ‘meta’-perspective allows the individual to honour all participants’ perspectives and can generate interventions and behaviours that can act with greater effectiveness and sustainability on a social system. Here, too, Sarkar is relevant, as the role of the sadvipra in the social cycle is both theory and action that embodies ‘integrality’.
By ‘creating’ the experience of the social cycle in the classroom; via the playing of the ‘Sarkar Game’, students learn of their own social constructions and roles. They experience the frustration of how these roles and constructions limit the effectiveness of their actions. They can also recognise the qualitative difference in the potential of actions that arise from adopting an ‘integral’ stance in participating in social change. In this way it is argued that the playing of the game is more than an alternative to the traditional pedagogy of education. The game also acts as a developmental pacer to the establishment of neo-humanistic perspectives. After briefly examining Sarkar’s idea of neo-humanism this piece will explain the mechanics of how the Sarkar Game is staged and it shall then draw upon observations of participant learning in order to demonstrate the claim about developing neo-humanist perspectives.
Sarkar held an image of positive future for humanity notwithstanding that he also saw that history tended to repeat itself in repetitive cycles. One element in Sarkar’s positive image of the future was the need to ground the rationality of scientific modernity in a universal humanism; what Sarkar called ‘neo-humanism’.
Sarkar’s project is not to leave the rationality of scientific modernity for the irrationality of the religious, rather, it is the creation of a new rationality that attempts to reconcile traditional dilemmas between spiritual and material, scientific and mystical, individual and collective, structure and agency. His rationality is centered not only on humans though, an integral part of the rational is pure, undefined and unbounded Consciousness [3, p.2].