The two-day eighth international forum on ecological civilization kicked off here on Friday, attracting nearly 200 scholars and experts from the United States, China and South Korea.
Education plays a very important role in ecological civilization, Dr. John B. Cobb, Jr., a well-known postmodern thinker and ecological economist who proposed the green GDP theory, stressed in his keynote speech at the Pitzer College. This year's forum is themed "Education for An Ecological Civilization."
However, school research is losing its humanizing functions, Cobb said, noting it is "highly regarded if it brings money to the university. Most of this research is for military, industrial, and medical purposes. Knowledge for knowledge's sake is becoming knowledge for the sake of military power and economic gain on the part of the rich."
As a constructive postmodernist, Cobb said society has many needs other than economics. "Learning how to create and live in an ecological civilization would seem to require public schools to do more than preparations for particular jobs."
He called on schools to endow students with "ability to help society as a whole to function in sustainable and harmonious ways."
Jay McDaniel, a philosopher and theologian, won the seventh "Cobb Common Good Award" at the forum for his longtime dedicated study of ecology and establishing a major on ecological civilization in college to help younger generations to know and embrace eco-life.
McDaniel told Xinhua that in his view, "the general purpose of good education is to teach people to become whole people with marketable skills who can help build whole communities and contribute to a whole world."
"And ecological civilization is an excellent organizing principle for that kind of education, because if you really think about ecological civilization, it involves living in harmony with the Earth to be sure, also in harmony with one another," he said.
A conference like this is about changing minds and attempts to find some common ground against the established culture "that we all agree to whatever we are doing in life," Joe Lyons, mayor of Claremont, said.
"From that common ground, we need to do something and figure ways to do it," the mayor added.
The forum is co-sponsored by the Institute for Postmodern Development of China of the Center for Process Studies, Chinese Ecological Civilization Research and Promotion Association, Pitzer College, Hendrix College, University of Seattle, Central Bureau of Compilation & Translation and the Chinese Society for Dialectics of Nature.