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Urbanization and Values

September 5 - November 10, 1987                              Washington, D.C.





The phenomenon of urbanization has many facets in our times. In industrializing countries this process is rapidly accelerating as fewer persons are needed in agriculture and workers are attracted to the city for employment.

This implies many changes. Traditional patterns, which had been stable and well articulated in a village environment, often become confused as people from places with diverse cultural backgrounds gather in new urban settlements. Indeed, oftentimes the shift to the city is itself a choice of a new style of life with an openness to, or even a desire for, a new pattern of values.

This raises a series of important issues. How is it possible in the modern urban environment to form communities in which new human self understanding and hence new values can emerge? Is it feasible for neighborhoods with distinctive value patterns, due possibly to a similar ethnic background, to perdure in the modern metropolis? Are smaller communities within a metropolis feasible; can they serve as a buffer against the depersonalizing force of mass society? Are the goals for which people move to the city too materialistic for the development of a positive value pattern, or are there new spiritual potentialities in the urban setting upon whose discovery and promotion the future of most of human kind will depend?



There is then need then for a penetrating study of the nature of urbanization and its impact upon values. This must search out its implications for the development of conditions which promote a positive realization and expression of cultural values, and in a way that is harmonious and complementary to those of others with whom we live in pluralistic communities.

This will require: (a) continued reflection, (b) by scholars from such different disciplines as philosophy, anthropology and politics, with opportunities (c) to refine personal insights through writing, (d) to discuss the issues critically and in depth, (e) in their multiple dimensions, (f) with persons from different cultures, (g) and in the light of such intensive discussion to draft and gradually shape a volume which reflects the discoveries of the group.  







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