Survival in a post-oil world _______________________
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The building shown above is the Cowichan Campus of Vancouver Island University, a small institution in the world of universities but one which seems well scaled to provide for the intellectual needs of central and northern Vancouver Island - if this is the mandate of the university.

Over the decades of industrialization following the second world war, universities in the so-called developed world have moved away from broad intellectual development and specialized in teaching skills required to be successful in the corporate world. This job-training or trade school kind of emphasis (which starts well below the post secondary level) has reduced the intellectual capacity of the citizenry of industrialized nations; also known as the "dumbing down" of the population. Among the abilities we have lost as a result of this narrowing of our collective worldview are our understanding of the interconnections of all life on Earth, our feelings about our personal place in the continuum of life, and our ability to construct a realistic vision beyond our immediate wants.

Click here for a video piece by the CBC's Duncan McCue which does a wonderful job of describing what it is like to retain at least some of these intellectual abilities intact. There is a short commercial for something at the beginning (which serves to illustrate the "dumbing down" process I suppose) and, if you want to watch "full screen", use the icon at the bottom right corner of the player.

Written in 2004, Dark Age Ahead is described as ". . . the crowning achievement of Jane Jacob's career . . ."

The author, whose work "has transformed the disciplines of urban planning and city architechture . . . identifies five central pillars of our [North American] society that show serious signs of decay: community and family; higher education; science and technology; governmental representation; and self-regulation of the learned professions."

Of the second, higher education she says: "Credentialing, not educating, has become the primary business of North American universities. . . . The credential is not a passport to a job, as naive graduates sometimes suppose. It is more basic and necessary: a passport to consideration for a job. . . University credentialing thus efficiently provides the services to employers that in simpler and more frugal days were provided by First Class or Eagle rank in the Boy Scouts."

In his book The Great Turning - 2006, David C. Korten, former professor of the Harvard Business School said this about education:
"The capacity and desire to learn are inherent in our human nature. We are born to learn from the day of our birth to the day of our death. Empire, however, has given us schools that too often serve as institutions for the confinement and test-driven regimentation of children isolated from the life of the community. Such schools are well suited to preparing children for obedient service to the institutions of Empire, but not for life and leadership in vibrant human communities nor for roles as social architects of a new human era."

Catholic priest and ecotheologian Thomas Berry in his book The Great Work - 1999 had this to say:
"As now functioning, the university prepares students for their role in extending human dominion over the natural world, not for intimate presence to the natural world. Use of this power in a deliterious manner has devastated the planet. . . . . So awsesome is the devastation we are bringing about that we can only conclude that we are caught in a severe cultural disorientation, a disorientation that is sustained intellectually by the university, economically by the corporation, legally by the [US] Constitution, spiritually by religious institutions."

New World New Mind written in 1989 by Robert Ornstein and Paul Erlich describes this disconnect as follows:
"Because of the way knowledge has developed in separate disciplines, children come to learn about themselves and their worlds piecemeal. If they get through college [in America], most are introduced to mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, geography, history, sociology, anthopology, economics, psychology, art, music, literature, languages, and more. But they rarely learn to relate one area to another. They don't find out that internal body chemistry is affected profoundly by being out of work, that economics depends on ecology, or that people from different cultural backgrounds may see the same picture differently."

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