In response to the complex challenges faced by humanity, it is imperative to have an intensive educational transformation that is value based and produces sustainable results. According to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world”. The course on Secular Ethics aims to provide a common foundation for multi-cultural diversity based on universal values of dignity, equity and compassion. It encourages praxis, based on the commonality of humanity and the ability to source this in the self and in the other to foster interdependence and wellbeing. This course focuses on transformation at the micro, mezo and macro levels, by embodying universal values individually and collectively, and unleashing one's full potential to shift disempowering systems and norms in order to create new patterns for equitable and sustainable results. Cutting-edge value-based approaches, new generation thinking based on neuro-science and psychology and actions based on field tested approaches world-wide, are the basis of the Secular Ethics Curriculum.
The course on 'Secular Ethics' is unique for a number of reasons including the fact that this new paradigm has at its core the promise of a just and equitable world for all. It draws upon the innate space of universal values within people to plan and implement strategic change and generate measurable results. This course fosters critical thinking and an inquiring mind; embodied understanding through praxis to find solutions that are equitable and sustainable for issues that concern us as individuals and communities; and sources universal values for creating alternatives, solving problems and generating results. It strengthens us to envision new patterns and leverage systemic and cultural change as well as economic and social transformation. It generates action to create and foster breakthrough initiatives generating measurable results. It fosters spaces for self-reflection and wise action; and creates platforms for others to source their inner potential and universal values, embody and apply them for results while being able to hold multiple perspectives and worldviews simultaneously. It recognises that to be effective, there must be coherence between universal values, intelligence, action and results. integrates three essential components of learning for students to be effective change makers for tomorrow.
The course content consists of 5 broad units, namely sourcing my universal values; designing change based on universal values and secular ethics; leading with others; accountability and responsibility; and ethical leadership. The course will include 30 hours of classroom teaching and 60 hours of practice, through the semester. Each session begins with reflections on new learning and practice, deepening of student insights and gaining sharpness and clarity. The tools taught through this course cover a wide range of skills, for example listening and speaking, ability to manage and transform conversations, ability to distinguish between fact from interpretation, judgment and discernment, principled outrage and destructive anger, accountability and responsibility, practice integrity, design for change and transformation and being an ethical leader. The course includes application and practice during the intersession, ensuring students to imbue what they learn in classroom and apply it to their daily life.
The course has been designed by Dr. Monica Sharma Tata Chair Professor and retired Director of Leadership and Capacity Building United Nations. Her upcoming book (global launched on 21 Nov 2017) ‘Radical Transformational Leadership: Strategic Action for Change Agents’ draws on more than twenty years of working for the United Nations to present a radical new approach to transformational leadership, one that creates systems of change where everyone can engage - not just analysts and policy makers. It describes how we can source our inner capacities and wisdom to manifest change that embodies universal values such as dignity, compassion, fairness, and courage. This book lays out a detailed plan for unleashing our human potential emphasising that everyone has the potential to be a leader–a person who creates a new future–through actions in society, at home, and at work to create a new future through strategic action The book outlines a path-breaking paradigm shift that is already generating equitable and sustainable results across the globe.
Along with Dr. Monica Sharma, Professor Srilatha Juvva and Mr. Sudarshan Rodriguez will deliver the course. Srilatha Juvva is a social work educator and is a Professor with the School of Social Work, TISS. Sudarshan Rodriguez leads a few Field Action Projects at the Director’s Office, Tata Institute of Social Sciences including the Social and Ecological Stewardship Programme.
Dr. Monica Sharma is a Tata Chair Visiting Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. Trained as a physician and epidemiologist, Monica Sharma worked for the United Nations from 1988 to 2010. As director of Leadership and Capacity Development at the United Nations and in UNDP and UNICEF, she designed and facilitated implementation of programs for whole systems transformation and leadership development world-wide. Monica Sharma created a unique response to global issues based on extensive application –a conscious full-spectrum model- which simultaneously solves problems, shifts systems and norms and creates new patterns sourced from individual inner capacity. This approach has generated sustainable results in different parts of the world.
In 2009, Monica Sharma received "The Spirit of the United Nations Award”, given to a person whose work is an expression of the core principles, spirit and vision on which the United Nations was founded.