LES Multiversity Platform
Why is the Multiversity Platform in Loyola Extension Services (LES)?
The Loyola Extension Services, which operates under the Loyola College of Social Sciences (LCSS), does so as not only an outreach or public service effort for an inclusive Common Good but also as a ‘social lab’ and ‘incubator’ of innovative educational/academic/‘learningful’/public action initiatives. LES is not constrained by any university affiliation challenges and therefore has considerable autonomy to embrace innovative initiatives and projects in order to develop and nurture them for the benefit of all. Against this background, it is at present developing a pluri-sectoral, multi-layered, multi-project, inter-connected and integrative ‘multiversity platform’. This will be called the LES/LCSS Multiversity Platform. (The 'multiversity platform' is the integrative operational feature of the LES Multiversity.)
What are Some of the Characteristic Features of LES Multiversity?
(a)Recasting of education: alternative educational pathways (glocal and contextual)
(b)Connecting with traditional educational wisdom
(c) Taking knowledge production activities back to the grassroots, to the people, to the local
(d) Rethinking and re-claiming ‘the teacher’ and ‘expertise’
(e) Rethinking eco-social complexity and going beyond disciplinary silos
(f) Developing critical pedagogy (reading and responding to the ‘sign of the times’):
totality and cosmological imagination
(g) Engaging inter or trans-disciplinarity, inter-trans-faith, and critical civic engagement
(h) Promoting public knowledge i.e. from ‘knowledge-inaction’ to ‘knowledge in-action’
(i) Ushering in efforts to nurture an era of wisdom from an era of knowledge
These features of LES Multiversity will inform and influence the orientation of the platform and all its classroom, public engagements, field and research activities.
What are the 'Guiding Approaches' or 'Foundational Methodologies' of the Multiversity ?
Critical Civic Engagement
What Is The Heart of the Multiversity?
The foundation of the multiversity is loving ‘Other-Centeredness’ i.e uncompromising compassion -- private/personal and public. It is firmly based in the belief that we need to be radically honest, humbly dialogue-oriented, uncompromisingly inclusive and actively animated by love and compassion (to consistently and courageously reach out to the eco-social Other in need). The LES Multiversity firmly believes in the inclusive social teachings and wisdom of all faith traditions and humanistic social philosophies -- It is specifically animated by gospel virtues and values, the foundational virtues and values of all religious/spiritual/mystical traditions that humanity lives by as well as the nurturing, inclusive eco-social philosophies that guide many of us. The multiversity will operate to recognise the dignity of the human person and human communities, the care for our common cosmic home as well as compassionate and preferential treatment of the poor.
Why Do We Need Such a Multiversity?
There is an urgent need today, to start with, to find plausible reasons to engage with private and public compassion actively. It is necessary and urgent for all of us to look at ourselves and the world deeply, acknowledge and accept the reality that we are increasingly ‘living’ in a violent, broken world. It is the direct result of humanity’s own mindless choices, decisions, lifestyles and blind faith in a ‘cancerous’, heartless, growth-based development model that nations as well as many global institutions religiously follow and promote. In spite of our massive global material growth and affluence over the years, we hardly live in a peaceful, inclusive and compassionate world. The global reality is that we are living in an oppressively unequal world where, for individual or structural (‘retail or wholesale’) reasons, there is a growing distribution of sites (particular in the developing world) of pain and suffering, disaster and death. There is also an ever-increasing ‘deficit’ of empathy, dialogue and compassion. We are really in the midst of not only a material but also a moral and spiritual crises. Such a context of crises needs an approach that is far beyond the limiting university framework.Hence the multiversity framework. We need to address the eco-socio-emergencies urgently for it threatens the viability and sustainable flourishing of all life on Earth. The LES Multiversity initiative is a small but significant attempt to add strength the growing global movement for a compassionate world.
What are the Concerns and Focus Areas of the Multiversity?
The multiversity platform will consist of the following inter-connected and integrated areas of concerns and focus:
(1) Critical Theories and Methodologies (to create theoretical, methodological and dialogue spaces for new humanities and compassion studies, research and action)
(2) Roots Education (to ground education and learning on the foundation of virtues-values-meanings, with a focus on compassion and to take urgent steps to address ‘functionalisation of education’ i.e acutely market-centric education)
(3) Outreach/Public Engagements (to reach out to those at risk, those who need help and to ensure that we compassionately institutionalise the preferential treatment of the poor and place human dignity on our agenda)
(4) Learning Events (to promote compassion and related areas to larger local and global communities through learning journeys, courses, residential programmes, and special lectures)
(5) Resources (to institutionalise a dynamic info-structure by acquiring as well as producing resources to support compassion and compassion-related activities)
(6) Platform Building (to build networks and partnerships to encourage friendships and mutual support groups in order to strengthen compassion cultures)
What are the Key Benefits of the Multiversity Platform?
The LES Multiversity platform will have the following benefits (short to medium to long term):
(1) Helps spread the understanding and practice of compassion across local and global societies.
(2) Promotes a social ecology of private, personal and public compassion through building active info- and infra-structures.
(3) Encourages the idea of ‘public academia’ by promoting engagements and interventions through critical public deployment of knowledge based on research for systematic policy and grassroots action.
(4) Organises outreach programmes for various at-risk individuals and communities that put human dignity and the ‘preferential treatment of the poor’ at the centre of its public engagement efforts for the powerless, voiceless, and marginalised.
(5) Contributes through many pathways and learning journeys to the formation of youth communities through leadership, discipleship and followership programmes to encourage peace, reconciliation, sustainability and public compassion.
(6) Functions as a social lab or incubator to usher in emerging critical areas that can become part of the academic offering of Loyola College of Social Sciences in time to come, including the creation of a core curriculum based on compassion.
(7) Encourages doctoral students to take up areas being attended to or developed by the multiversity platform as research topics through their respective departments in Loyola College of Social Sciences.
(8) Runs innovative short courses/learning journeys for students and teachers of Loyola College of Social Sciences.
(9) Offers a collaborative platform for like-minded organisations and initiatives to strengthen the multiversity in solidarity by creating a multi-project ecology to promote compassion.
How Will the Multiversity be Governed, Projects Implemented and Services Delivered?
(i) Below is the Multiversity Governance-Organisational-Administrative Structure
(ii) How Long Will it Take to Grow the Multiversity and its Proposed Activities?
While the eco-social canvas of initiatives, programmes and projects of the multiversity is large, it is important to remember that this is being put forward as a guide for the platform and the work of LES over the next 10 years i.e. 2022 - 2032. It will therefore be developed systematically - with periodic social audits - though a series a priorities and strategies that will include (i) responses and relevance to the eco-social contexts and needs, (ii) formation and nurturing of critically oriented and competent ‘youthful’ team (governing the multiversity platform), (iii) creation of supportive infrastructure and infostructure, (iv) raising of financial resources from bonafide community sources, and (v) searching and building long term key collaborators and partners (like minded individuals and/or institutions, private or public entities, civil society and/or state institutions/actors).
(iii) What are the Spheres of Parallel Development for Governance-Administration?
For the multiversity to grow in governance and administration over the years, 5 inter-connected areas need to be developed concurrently: (i) infra-structure, (ii) info-structure, (iii) public/ outreach initiatives/projects (a critical component of the multiversity) (iv) eco-social initiatives (the multi-project ecology for nurturing compassion, and (v) fund raising. Though there will be greater attention and efforts to build and strengthen the infra- and info-structures for long term continuity, viability and sustainability of the multiversity, these efforts have to be seen in the contexts of the other components of the governance-administration development.