Trans4m gives Talk in Geneva on Integral Development to new Masters Course on Transitional Justice, Human Rights and Rule of Law

Trans4m’s Co-Founder Alexander Schieffer was invited to present Integral Development to a new Masters Course of the Geneva Academy for International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. 

What is the proper role of development in countries of transition – after war, conflict, and oppressive, authoritarian regimes? And how would development have to be designed to contribute to the sustainable renewal of a society?

These were the guiding questions for this talk by Alexander Schieffer to about 30 Masters Students representing literally every continent – mainly from countries that have experienced transition or violence in recent times. The talk was part of a course on Transformative Justice by Dr. Rama Mani that provides an integral approach to justice including economic, social cultural ecological and metaphysical justice. The course forms part of a new Masters Program on Transitional Justice, hosted by the Geneva Academy .

Schieffer began to expose participants, in the first part of the talk, to the systemic failure of conventional development approaches over the past decades, and the emergence of new, more integrated approaches to societal development – which include the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN in 2015.

He then introduced Trans4m’s approach to Integral Development as an alternative to the current development paradigm. Particular emphasis was given to the culturally rooted foundations (sensitive aspect) of the integral approach, and to Trans4m’s interweaving of societal development with organizational, community and individual development processes in order to bring about local development solutions with a tangible impact on the ground. Practical Cases were shared such as Integral Green Zimbabwe and Integral Green Slovenia as well as the case stories of Sekem in Egypt (Sekem), Integral Banking and Integral Healing in Nigeria and the Integrated Development approach of Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka.

Dialogue with Ela Gandhi: Embedded in this session was a fascinating one-hour dialogue with Ela Gandhi from South Africa, former Member of Parliament, member of the (Executive Transitional Committee) and anti-apartheid leader, and president of the Gandhi Development Trust and granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi. Ms Gandhi explained the underlying methodology of apartheid based on colonial thinking that depended on impoverishing the local population to create a source of cheap labour. She shared a critical review of development to date in South Africa, and underscored the need to regain economic self-sufficiency. She advocated activating widespread local participation, to render society less vulnerable to global shifts. She emphasized the role of women’s empowerment for development to succeed. Ela Gandhi’s analysis and conclusions were deeply resonant with Trans4m’s approach to integral development.

The course ended with an intense dialogue between Prof Schieffer and the MA participants on challenges and possibilities to apply Integral Development in the home countries of participants – be it in Bangladesh or Syria, Mexico or Afghanistan.