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Introducing Prout College

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Prout College (www.proutcollege.org ), affiliated with the University of the Sunshine Coast, is a new virtual academic cooperative hosted in Australia. Prout College started running its first subjects this year. Here is a look at what they are all about.

What is the connection between a new academic cooperative in Australia, a cooperatives research program inVenezuela, a cooperative training program in Croatia, community based skills sharing groups scattered across the globe, eco-villages in the USA, yoga and meditation retreats across the world, a global network of community service and sustainable development programs, and environmental and animal rights activism across the world?

The answer is people who are inspired to be active participants in their societies to look after the physical, mental and spiritual welfare of the administrators and the administered of their societies as a whole. And their inspiration comes from Prout, a social movement based on spiritual culture, a model of an ideal socio-economic system, a vision of the good society, and the Prout practice.

Prout College (www.proutcollege.org ), affiliated with the University of the Sunshine Coast, is a new virtual academic cooperative  hosted in Australia. Prout College started running its first subjects this year. The members of the cooperative are the teachers Sohail Inayatullah, Michael Towsey, Ivana Milojevic and Marcus Bussey and the administrator Jake Karlyle all of whom have been involved with Prout and/or futures education for many years.

“The coop members are the ones who put the effort in over the last few years to make the college a reality,” explained Jake Karlyle. “And the members of the academic faculty are responsible for designing and teaching all the courses. The project is the fruits of Jennifer Fitzgerald’s initial groundwork in Australia in the 1990’s, inspired by Prout, to create the tertiary college and then the continuation of the project by Stephen Gunther after Jennifer died in 2000. The Prout vision continues to provide the inspiration for Prout College and we warmly acknowledge the invaluable contributions made by Jennifer Fitzgerald and Stephen Gunther.”

“The Certificate in Prout Studies can be studied full-time or part-time,” said Sohail Inayatullah. “As always, the person who learns the most from any course is the one who teaches... thus I love the two- and three-day foresight workshops I run as in the last session the participants teach. We are doing our best to move from single loop to double loop learning about what is my inner story and what is my character in creating Prout inspired futures. We are also doing a dance between using Prout lenses to look at social reality and then using other theories to look at Prout, all with the intent of knowledge pluralism and transformative action. An inner spiritual dimension is also developing in the course.”

“We can do something about the future; the future is there as a potentiality,” said Marcus Bussey. “Education that generates rather than consumes energy has the potential to return hope and creativity to the human experiment. If we infuse education with spiritual energy drawn from the practices, values and commitments of the great spiritual traditions we produce a system that channels powerful creative forces into the future. Prout with its neo-humanist frame of thinking can inspire us to imagine sustainable futures and create interventions that will enable policy making that sustains the economic, environmental, social, personal and collective aspects of our ways of living.”

This semester is the first with enrolled students and the subjects for this semester include:
• Introduction to Prout (epistemology and methodology; neohumanism; alternative economics, macrohistory, and glo-cal governance) taught by Sohail Inayatullah and Michael Towsey,

• Macrohistory and World Futures (comparative macrohistory, scenarios of the world futures) by Sohail Inayatullah and Ivana Milojevic, and

• Education for Liberation (pedagogy for transformation, educational futures, spiritual education) by Marcus Bussey.

Prout College offers eight units that, when taken together, are intended to be part of humanity's response to the global challengefaced – the units are intended to help people move from survival to ultimately bliss. Prout has five pillars:

1) spiritual practice,
2) Neohumanism,
3) the social cycle,
4) governance
5) socio-economy.

Spiritual practice means that there is an interior dimension to the external world. In a successful Proutist society meditation and otherpractices are central and the inner dimension flows through the other aspects of Prout.

Neohumanism is both equal opportunitylegislation and inner mindfulness.

The social cycle provides a theory of macrohistory and future. There are four stages of history and four ways of knowing – the worker, the warrior, the intellectual and the merchant. History is cyclical. However, we are not doomed to the cycle. There is a way out. At the centre of the cycle are sadvipras – ideal leaders, who can access these four potentials and ensure that the cycle becomes progressive thateach wave of change continues the rotation of the cycle but at higher levels. 

Prout works as a federalist world system with a sadvipra informal social system (the network of policy boards that inform and guide the formal system). Prout thus reconciles the two grand traditions in political theory: democracy and wisdom, structure and agency. Prout focuses on the cooperative socioeconomic model (along with private smallscale enterprises and state-run public utilities).

A Proutist society provides a safety net withincentives for innovation. Prout in this way seeks a third way, progressively beyond  socialist and capitalist models of ownership, and resolves the dichotomies of global and local.  

Origins of Prout:

Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar (1921-1990) is described as a controversial Indian philosopher, guru and activist. For his supporters Sarkar was a philosopher, social reformer, and spiritual teacher dedicated to the task of planetary transformation. Through his actions and teachings he inspired people to develop themselves to their fullest, and to assume greater responsibility for humanity’s welfare. While Sarkar passed away in 1990, his work, his social movements, his vision of the future remains ever alive for his supporters and through the organisations such as Ananda Marga he had begun.

Sarkar formulated a humanistic philosophy he called "neo-humanism." From the stance of neo-humanism, people’s aspirations and achievements are not to be measuredin reference to creed, state, social institution, or personal wealth. None of these have worth in and of themselves, but possess value only in so far as they serve to nurture bodies, expand intellects, and elevate souls. He felt that humanity’s future well-being lies in the hands of those motivated by neo-humanist sentiment – love and respect for all beings, animate and inanimate, in the universe. According to the theory of neo-humanism it is possible to have more empathy and compasson, greater commitment to social equality, increased unity with others, and re-identification ofthe self with the Cosmos. The central framework for Sarkar’s Neo-Humanistic perspective is his Progressive Utilization Theory (Prout)(1).

(1) Inayatullah, Sohail, 2002, Understanding Sarkar: The Indian episteme, macrohistory and transformative knowledge, Brill, Leiden

For more information about Prout College, visit their website www.proutcollege.org

 
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