A Brief History of RVP Regional Programs
The overall development of this work has been as follows.
In the 1960s the RVP effort on culture and values began as a series of workshops in an attempt to articulate the new sense of the person which underlay the postwar and post-colonial changes sweeping across the world.
In the 1970s and 1980s, a system of joint colloquia was developed with the national academies of sciences in Central and Eastern Europe to break through ideological barriers. The colloquia focused mainly on human dignity as seen by various cultures, and how this could provide philosophical foundations for a transformation of their social lives and systems. One conference in Poland provided the philosophy of Solidarity with its final critical review before it became the transforming and liberating force for all of Eastern Europe. Concurrently, a number of continuing initiatives were realized in other regions: interdisciplinary and intercultural seminars were held on such topics as “Urbanization and Values” and “Relations Between Cultures”; research scholars from all fields took part in the RVP seminars in Washington, D.C. to develop their competencies as leaders and to update their competencies, research agendas and methods of interdisciplinary work; and structures of interdisciplinary cooperation were developed, e.g., on the foundations of moral education.
During the 1990s, a series of joint colloquia and general conferences were held on crucial issues including “Economic Ethics and Chinese Cultures” and “Civil Society and Models of Identities in Post-Communist Societies”. A global network of up to 60 research teams generated studies constituting the extensive RVP series Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change in print and on the web (www.crvp.org).
At the turn of the millennium, the Center for the Study of Culture and Values was established by the Council as a university footprint to support this effort with the full breadth of the academic research competencies of a University. With the integration of the many regional research teams with their cultural resources and concerns, work is proceeding on humanizing the forces of globalization.
More specific information on each region follows.
Central and Eastern Europe
In 1989, as the highly centralized governments of Central and Eastern Europe began to crumble, the RVP convoked the Institutes of Philosophy of the Academies of Science to retrieve the foundational values in their cultures and apply them to national rebuilding as democratic societies. The drafts of the resulting volumes on social reconstruction were presented for critical debate with the other teams from the region, first at a meeting in Krakow in 1991, then at meetings in Stara Lezna and Smolenice, Slovakia in 1992 and 1994, and at annual meetings thereafter in each of the Central and Eastern European countries. Each team has since published a second volume on building democratic societies, or even a third volume on the current theme rejoining Europe in a global context. Over 30 volumes have been published in this series. With the evolving challenges regional sets of teams have been formed in the Balkans, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia and an active role has been played in the meetings of the World Forum sponsored by the Russian Orthodox church, with cooperation by Greece, Iran and India and held in the Isle of Rhodes and at UNESCO-Paris. The RVP will publish a book of its proceedings.
The first Chinese joint colloquium was held at Peking University in 1987. Since 1991, annual colloquia with the Shanghai Academy of Social Science and Fudan University were held alternately in China and in the countries along the Asian Pacific rim. Colloquia have covered such issues as "The Humanization of Technology" (Japan), "Economic Ethics and Chinese Culture," and “Civil Society” laying the foundation for the new China. Eight colloquia were held across China one year and a Chinese team visited six University centers in India in search of the Hindu roots of Chinese Buddhism. Since 2000 the themes have concerned the life of the new China, e.g., urbanization, international relations and public administration as public service. 35 volumes have been published in this series. The Council has played an active role in the Peking Forum which opens in the Great Hall of the People and is publishing the papers of its philosophy section.
Since 1991 a special focus has been the work with Islam in its meeting with modernity. This has included lectures at al-Azhar University the intellectual center of Sunni Islam in Cairo, and courses and annual conferences in Tehran and Qom the academic center of Shiite Islam. An intensive series of conferences have been held across Central Asia and Pakistan as well as in Malaysia and Indonesia in Southeast Asia on issues of faith and reason, religious fidelity and modern life, Islam and its quest for peace, the title of one of the resulting volumes. Some 18 volumes resulting from this work have appeared in the RVP Islamic series.
The RVP established personal connections with some 24 universities across Africa to assist in their emergence from colonialism and establishment of a world view and philosophy appropriate to their diverse African identities. This has been implemented by a continual series of participants in the annual 10 week seminars in Washington, D.C., a series of lectures held in African university centers ranging from a simple conferences to a major international meeting of over one hundred participants from Africa and other continents; the promotion of research teams; and the publication of a series of 12 volumes.
The work of the RVP focused along the Andes from Venezuela to Paraguay. Its theme related especially to the indigenous cultures and the philosophical foundations of moral education. In addition there have been a series of meetings in Brazil and a team from the Southern Cone has been meeting annually. There have been multiple participants in the annual 10 week seminars in Washington, D.C., meetings in Bogota and Lima had substantive participation from North America and Europe as well. Due to difficulties of language fewer books have been published in the RVP series from Latin America then from other continents, though one from Argentina is presently in process.
In all over 200 such studies have been published and are available on the internet at www.crvp.org. These, in turn, reflect the scope of the RVP international network not only of individual scholars but of research teams structured in regional and global unities. The complete list of this series is found at the end of this report.