The Center for Global Awareness is launching a new initiative in the fall of 2017 called Global Awareness Conversation and Study Circles or Gather for short. The mission of Gather is to enhance adult learners’ global awareness by offering conversation materials that holistically present significant global topics using a unique four dimensional approach called SEEK: see, evolve, engage, and know. By participating in this conversational program, participants will be able to know more about significant global topics, see different perspectives and views, evolve positive attitudes and shift behaviors, and engage more actively in helping to solve pressing global concerns through interacting more deeply with others. This blog series will focus on the See dimension.
Many different variables influence our views. One of the influences is our particular worldview. I believe worldviews are such an important contributor to the way we see the world that I have written a short book called Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World. In this blog series, I will share with you excerpts from the book that I think are relevant to understanding and helping to transcend the deep gulfs that divide people today.
Worldview is one of those terms that has multiple meanings and is often used inconsistently. I am defining the term worldview as consisting of basic assumptions and images that provide a more or less coherent, though not necessarily accurate, way of thinking about the world. Worldviews are those systems or structures within which our values, beliefs, and assumptions lie. They influence how we see ourselves and others and how we make meaning of our lives and form relationships. Worldviews keep our lives coherent by giving us a sense of meaning, purpose, and connection.
When I started the Global Awareness Adult Conversation and Study Program, I wanted to expand the typical way of studying global issues and cultural topics in which information is presented and acquired, to one in which participants would not only learn information but would develop an appreciation for the different ways in which individuals see the world. This approach would help participants evolve their own capacity for understanding others and encourage engagement in creating positive change. Thus, the four dimensions of SEEK emerged as see, evolve, engage, and know.
The SEE dimension to me is a vital component in the program. Many of us live in a bubble, surrounded by people who have similar views on issues and comparable lifestyles, and who read the same books and listen to media that support our views. When we have a conversation about a controversial topic, we rarely hear conflicting views, which reinforces the notion that we are obviously right. Many of us rarely step outside our bubble to see other people’s views. Even on some college campuses, the natural place for conflicting ideas, the speech of opposing voices is sometimes stifled because it is considered hostile, troublesome, or can “trigger” unpleasant emotions. This pattern of restricting behavior is detrimental to a democracy and hampers the interaction of different people in sustaining institutions that support a vibrant nation and economy.
The 2016 presidential election exemplified this “bubble phenomena.” Many Hillary Clinton voters were stunned when there was a backlash among half of the voters against her liberal worldview in which minority rights were supported, preserving the environment was a priority, and a professional class of experts, not just billionaires, would help shape governmental policy. This dramatic and far-reaching electoral backlash exemplified the opposing ways in which half of the electorate saw issues through one lens while the other half saw issues very differently.
The See Dimension of Gather has been developed to try and make some sense of the multiple perspectives that are expressed by each person. Although the different “modes of seeing” that are explored in the See Dimension will not give a complete picture of reality, as this is impossible anyway, its purpose is to give an overview of several different lenses through which reality is perceived. From cross-cultural awareness, to systems thinking, cultural identity, individual personality traits, and worldviews, the many different lenses through which we see reality are explored.
My book Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World examines one of lenses through which we see reality: worldviews. The five worldviews—indigenous, modern, fundamentalist, globalized, and transformative — that I have developed and presented in this book are not the only way that we can see differences, but it is one of the lenses that help shape our perception of reality. This book does not aim to neatly categorize all people into one of the categories, as you may find that you or others you know may identify with two or more worldviews. I know I do. But the book gives you a range of beliefs that are firmly held by a wide variety of people in the U.S. and the world.
Find out more about the five worldviews in this four-part blog series continuing on July 5 and July 11. If you find this information interesting follow and like us on Facebook.
I hope you enjoy reading about worldview as much as I have had writing about, teaching, and researching the topic. If you are interested in finding out more information about Gather (Global Awareness Adult Conversation and Study Program) or starting a conversation group this fall, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our purpose is to connect with others, to learn deeply, to unfold our hearts in empathy, to see with new eyes, and to activate our hands in engagement. Good luck to all of you!
Denise R. Ames
- Do you think there are benefits of “seeing” other perspectives and viewpoints?
- Do you live in a “bubble”? If you think it is important to live outside of a bubble, how would you go about emerging from your bubble?