This week's guest editors

The selective awareness of Wisdom 2.0

Take an ancient practice, remove it from its context, strip away its ethical imperatives and sell it for a profit. Is the goal of the corporate mindfulness movement to comfort the already comfortable? 

Can philanthropic oligarchy nurture economic justice?

Will NGOs and foundations ever be able to look at their moneyed benefactors and challenge how they generated their wealth? The national correspondent of NonProfit Quarterly takes on our series on the role of money in the transformation of society. 

Democracy blooming at the margins: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine and Taiwan

The terrifying spectre in these countries is not of ravenous foreign capital, though there is plenty of experience with this too, but of the persistent suffering of being an oft bloodied geopolitical borderland.

A startup fever with a Middle Eastern twist

Young Arab entrepreneurs throughout the Middle Eastern region (the "youth bulge") are collaborating to revitalize their local economies and attracting international investment. 

Did Socrates die in vain? Rescuing education from school

Are school children educated, socialized, or indoctrinated?  If there’s any wonder remaining in a student after being swamped with established knowledge throughout the day, she or he would have to pursue critical thinking in the evenings.

How human rights went global

Attempts to assuage conflicts around the world using the language of human rights are sometimes met with rebuttals of their “Western” provenance. In fact the foundational Universal Declaration of Human Rights emerged from the wisdom of the post-war international crowd.

Why green growth won’t transform the economy

Green growth is a myth. Because it ignores the social, political and personal dimensions of sustainability, it can never cut deep enough into the structures of self and society to secure solutions to the crises that we face.

Turkish elections: money and the media

Measures aimed at limiting reporting by major independent news resources allowed Erdogan’s media to create an unquestioned atmosphere of electoral victory.

Reclaiming feminist visions of empowerment

Glib and glossy visions of women’s empowerment, designed to avoid actual power structures, are being avidly promoted by corporations and the development industry alike. A new book by Srilatha Batliwala reminds us of what lies at the heart of feminist empowerment work.

Creating a culture of participation

As part of our series of interviews with practitioners and activists, Participation Now researcher Hilde C. Stephansen spoke to Mikey Weinkove of The People Speak, an artists’ collective that creates ‘tools for the world to take over itself’. Their many projects include Talkaoke, a mobile talk show, and Who Wants To Be?, an ask-the-audience game show.

The unspoken atrocity of standardized education

As the corporate takeover of public education proceeds in the US and other countries, schools cease to be training grounds for social transformation. We are not just fighting for our children, but for the liberation of our country. 

From Facebook movements to city square movements

Use of the internet has not led to a predominance of virtual actions and movements over mobilizations in ‘physical space’. On the contrary, since 2011 the occupation of urban public spaces - and more particularly symbolic spaces - has been a major feature of these movements.

From Occupy to online democracy: the Loomio story

Flexibility was important, with people being able to change their position if their mind was changed by a persuasive argument or new information. Democracy is a skill we can practice with people wherever we are. 

Engaging EU citizens in policy making

As part of our series of interviews with practitioners involved in public participation initiatives, Participation Now researcher Hilde C. Stephansen spoke to Deirdre Lee at Insight-NUI Galway, about Puzzled by Policy, a European Commission funded project that aimed to engage citizens in the policy making process.

French local elections on suburban housing estates

It is, in a sense, a good sign for racial integration to see that the “new French” are voting just like the old ones.

Taking responsibility for Friern Barnet Community Library

“Barnet claims to know what people want.  But if you go into some of the libraries in Barnet, I would have to say that they probably don’t know what people want.” Nick Mahony talks to the Chair of Trustees of a library saved by occupation for the community in north London.

Complaints Choir: what is it?

"This project stays dynamic when people take the Complaints Choir as a tool and make use of it in their own context and modify it. That’s the spirit of open source." Hilde C. Stephansen interviews the founders of the choir for Participation Now.

Changing public opinion through direct action

“Starbucks felt so pressured by the public that they felt obliged to pay £20,000,000 to the HMRC.” Our series of interviews with activists and practitioners who organise public participation initiatives speaks next to Sarah Kwei from UK Uncut, the direct action group that works to raise awareness of tax avoidance and austerity cuts through creative forms of protest.

Organising today: stewarding and responding to ‘the people’

38 degrees aims to bring people together to take action on the issues that matter to them. As part of our series of interviews with practitioners, Participation Now researcher Nick Mahony talked to Becky Jarvis and Rebecca Falcon at the 38 Degrees office in London about their work.

The Religion of the Future

How can we organize a society that gives us a better chance to be fully alive? How can we reinvent religion so that it liberates us instead of consoling us? A new book provides some answers.

Introducing ‘Participation Now: meet the practitioners’

Participation Now is a new Open University web platform that hosts an accessible and expanding collection of over 120 of the most creative examples of contemporary public participation and engagement initiatives. Meet 'the Practitioners'.

It’s time to put money out of its misery

Money talks, but what language is it speaking? New ideas and experiments could reposition money as a source of social justice as well as personal fulfillment. This is the final article in our series on the role of money in the transformation of society.

Philanthropic power erosion: the Edge Fund alternative

When power and privilege are acknowledged and addressed, decisions over funding can unite people instead of dividing them. This is the ninth article in our series on the role of money in the transformation of society.

Jonathan Schell: in memoriam

The writer who taught courses at Yale on non-violence and nuclear arms through 2012 and who died Tuesday night, at 70, of cancer, in his home in Brooklyn, was a luminous, noble bearer of an American civic-republican tradition inherently cosmopolitan and embracing.

Democratizing inequalities

Participation has become a necessary basis for institutional authority in an era of declining social mobility and government retrenchment. It has become a tool for sustaining hierarchies as much as a tool for transcending them. 

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