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World Forum for Social Innovation: Provisional Programme


World Forum for Social Innovation
B. Intended response
C. Forum themes
D. Direction and interrelationship of innovation themes
E. Structure and participation
F. Forum dynamics
G. Sponsorship, support and participation

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Provisional programme for a forum to be held in Paris in 1976 under the auspices of Mankind 2000 (Brussels) and the Centre d'étude des consequences générales des grandes techniques nouvelles (CTN, Paris). Earlier variants appeared as: Social Transmutation Conference: details of possible themes (Revised notes, March 1974. PDF original); Proposed Conference Series on Social Catalysis (Revised notes 6-8, February 1974, PDF original), Proposed Conference Series on Social Engineering (Preliminary notes 1-5, November 1973, PDF original)

A. Challenge

It is widely acknowledged that mankind is faced with an increasingly complex challenge. The number and diversity of problems and crises with which society is confronted continue to increase. The interrelatedness of these problems and their cumulative negative effect on human beings become daily more apparent. Complexity and the large scale of many problems are forcing decisions to be made at levels where individual participation of those affected is increasingly remote, producing a crisis in political and social development which threatens the whole future of society.

The quality of individual human life and that of the community is changing rapidly and in many senses deteriorating ; foreseeable technological developments will have a still greater influence, presenting both opportunities for a richer life and a multiplicity of attendant dangers.

Humanity, in its struggle against hardship, has succeeded in creating institutions whose objectives are material affluence (through agriculture, industry and commerce). ButA because of the difficulties resulting from increasing social complexities, institutions have not yet been created which are capable of aiding the vast mass of people to find the means for their own development in the direction which each desires.

Many of the most serious conflicts facing mankind result from the interaction of social, economic, technological, political and psychological forces and can no longer be solved by fractional approaches from individual disciplines. The time is past when individual programmes can be promoted without consideration of social consequences and when technology can be allowed to develop without consideration of the social prerequisites of change or the social consequences of such change. Diagnosis is often faulty. Remedies proposed often merely suppress symptoms rather than attack the basic cause or else lead to unforeseen interaction between programmes, which only serves to aggravate further the problem complex. M ere modification of policies already proved to be inadequate will not result in what is right. Science in planning to-day is too often used to make situations which are inherently bad, more efficiently bad. New approaches are required, sensitive to the needs and the potential of the whole person.

In the face of this challenge there is general bewilderment, hopelessness and frustration on the part of the individual. Conventional organizational responses have to a large extent failed and are no longer perceived as having a significant or adequate effect on the new problem complexes. The lack of creative initiative results in the present atmosphere of bankruptcy. Might not social innovation for personal development offer the equivalent of what was accomplished in the century past by technical innovation for material affluence ?

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