from pandemia to polifonia: community “declaration of dependence”
Keywords:declaration of dependence, P4wC, study
In times of crisis, connections among people, cultures, and societies seem to be the main antidotes available against the risks of individualism, auto-referentiality, and a revenge culture. Connectivity offers opportunities to nurture human generativity (Santi, 2021) in the service of better futures and cosmopolitan scenarios, contrasting the delusion of autarchical economies, the rhetoric of political nationalism, and the reinforcement of social polarization by way of competition/marginalization, which applies to education as well. The pandemia that occurred in 2020 brought both risks of isolation and opportunities for connection: it has been a paradoxical and even paroxysmal situation that has challenged us to think about forms of dependence, especially in instructional contexts. The stimulus for an inquiry that was carried out with 817 students at the University of Padova was the provocative title of an album by well-known musicians: “Declaration of Dependence.” The aim was to think about dependencies in the form of regular roles such as “study/student” that are important for our human existence, and which were profoundly upset by the “sindemia” (Singer, 2009). Our aspiration was to explore what it means to belong to a thriving university whose over-arching goal is to serve the dependencies of people in a generative community of future horizons. Our efforts led to the drafting of the “Declaration of Dependence,” a shared manifesto by the research group that enumerated a thorough list of the students' self-declared dependencies, and which was later shared with the university community in multiple languages. This led, in turn, to the use of the Declaration to launch multiple focus groups, which discussed these dependencies in a setting devoted to dialogue and the practice of complex thinking. Subsequently, in a workshop carried out in 2020 at the 20th Biennial Conference of the International Council of Philosophical Inquiry with Children (ICPIC) in Tokyo, we opened an international dimension on the reflections that had preoccupied us in the Padova University context. Here, the aim was to reflect on the personal, collective and educational dependencies of the present historical moment through the practice of community of philosophical inquiry, which offers a paradigmatic time and space for sharing, listening, questioning, and gaining perspective. The conference workshop offered an international group of scholars and practitioners from various socio-political contexts the opportunity to deliberate on how the pandemic has impacted both their local and the global community. Considering the new educational and philosophical challenges presented by the pandemic, the group expressed an urgent need to deconstruct established boundaries and return to “origins.” Invoking metaphors taken from the natural world (Roversi et al, 2022), an inquiry into the nature and scope of our fundamental dependencies reminds us that we are part of a socio-cultural ecology that is grounded and nurtured in our relationship with others. A community that understands its dependencies as gifts that call us to the design of a better future could in fact represent a foreshadowing of a better tomorrow.
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