For Us and the World We Inhabit: A Civics of Interdependence
Eric Hartman, Executive Director, Haverford College Center for Peace and Global Citizenship and Executive Team Member, The CollaborativeAcross higher education and the K-12 system that feeds it, the illusion of independence is deep-rooted in our civic and educational imaginations. It infects our methodologies, our understanding of universities, and our capacities to comprehend our inexorable interconnectivity with the ideas and assumptions we hold. As the pandemic struck the United States in March of 2020, I worked with a team of community, civic, and global educators. We began to develop a toolkit to support students’ understanding of interconnectedness. We built online learning tools on civics of interdependence as a truer reflection of the human-ecological condition than existing approaches to civic and global education. That toolkit has now been used on at least a dozen campuses by more than 300 students. But co-creators have not had the opportunity to fully articulate the theoretical underpinnings of its approach. I begin that project here. The toolkit is itself an evolving critique of dominant epistemological, ontological, and political-economic approaches to education. But it is not merely critique of critique for critique’s sake - a common feature of the self-perpetuating disposition of much of the higher education industrial complex. It offers an alternative vision for where we are, how we understand better, and how we can make progress toward justice, inclusion, and sustainability, together.
Chart 1: Being in Relationships: A Civics of Interdependence