Changing Lives Changing Societies

Changing Lives Changing Societies

Edited by Tatwa P. Timsina and Dasareth Neupane – ISBN 993725358-1
available online via Amazon and other retailers

Changing Lives Changing SocietiesThe Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) is a global network of non-profit organisations advancing human development worldwide. This new book, published by ICA Nepal, was launched at ICA’s 8th Global Conference on Human Development in Kathmandu in October.  The book and the conference were among a series of initiatives celebrating ICA’s 50th anniversary in 2012. The Table of Contents and Preface may be downloaded here.

Editor Tatwa Timsina is Chair of ICA Nepal and former President of ICA International, and an Associate Professor of Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu. Tatwa and his co-editor Dasareth Neupane, and the many ICA colleagues from around the world who have contributed as authors, have done a great service to ICA’s global mission with this book.  It should be required reading for all those involved with ICA worldwide, as we seek to renew and strengthen our global network and extend our global impact through peer-to-peer collaboration.  It should be required reading also for all those who share ICA’s concern ‘for the human factor in world development’.  Facilitators, development practitioners and policy makers alike may benefit from the 50 years of collective experience that have contributed to these inspiring stories – stories of practical approaches that work in changing lives and changing societies, through facilitating change with people, in communities and in organisations.

Bill Staples of ICA Associates in Canada opens the book with an overview of those 50 years of ICA experience in human development worldwide. In doing so he traces the roots of ICA’s ‘Technology of Participation’ (ToP).  This powerful suite of facilitation methods and tools is perhaps the most visible manifestation of ICA’s shared philosophy, values and approach, in what has become a diverse global network with an equally diverse range of programmes and activities.

Robertson Work, former global policy advisor with the UN Development Programme in New York and keynote speaker at the Nepal conference, draws on social philosophy, systems analysis and many years of worldwide experience.  He shares an approach to transformative leadership and innovative governance that builds on Ken Wilber’s integral theory, Jean Houston’s Social Artistry and ICA’s ToP facilitation methodology.

Larry Philbrook, Director of ICA Taiwan and also former President of ICA International, describes awakenment, engagement and formation as three core strategies for human development at the individual level – about living a disciplined life of choice.  He describes facilitation as a pathway to such individual transformation, as well as to organisational and social transformation. Bill Staples goes on to outline perhaps the most powerful of the suite of ToP methods, known as Participatory Strategic Planning, and its human developmental impact at both the individual and social level*.

Following chapters describe the practical experience and profound impact of facilitation and human development around the world, in a variety of contexts representing the diversity of ICA’s global network.  Among these, Ana Maria Urrutia tells the story of ICA Chile’s Participative Leaders Training Programme with young people with and without disabilities in Santiago. Catalina Quiroz and Luz Marina Aponte relate ICA Spain’s experience of virtual facilitation with worldwide religious groups to promote more collaborative planning and working practices. Terry Bergdall of ICA USA draws on experience in Africa and elsewhere to describe ICA’s participatory approach within the contextual framework of Asset Based Community Development.  Jonathan Dudding of ICA:UK draws on worldwide experience to reflect on the potential and limitations of ICA’s ToP facilitation methods in addressing conflict, and how this has contributed to the work of ICA:UK and partners in developing the innovative new Kumi method for conflict transformation in the Middle East.  Jan Sanders, Tatwa Timsina et al share the experience of ICA Nepal’s Decentralised Transformative Approach to HIV & AIDS in partnership with UNDP, UNAIDS and others.  Mohammad Azizur Rahman and Md Mohsin Ali of ICA Bangladesh reflect on the experience and implications of ToP methods in learning and research in Bangladesh. Tatwa Timsina and Kushendra Mahat reflect on ICA Nepal’s experience of the Civil Society Index action research project in Nepal, and its role in development and democratisation. Wayne Ellsworth describes ICA Japan’s approach to awareness, education and transformation in humanitarian emergency situations in Chile, Haiti, Cote D’Ivoire, Aceh, Japan and elsewhere.

Even after reading regularly of many of these initiatives in recent years in ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz and quarterly magazine Winds and Waves, and after learning of them directly from colleagues at the Nepal conference and otherwise, I was profoundly impacted by reading this book.  After 25 years of involvement with ICA worldwide, I found myself almost as excited by these stories as I was by the stories of ICA’s worldwide network of Human Development Projects that I first encountered as an international volunteer in the 1980s. Certainly the same philosophy, values and approach shine through, although the practicalities of implementation may have changed as much as the world around us has changed since then.  The internet is a case in point. Although there have been numerous books authored by ICA colleagues in recent years*, I think there has been no such global compendium to illustrate the scope and depth of ICA’s experience and approach since Beyond Prince and Merchant – launched at ICA’s 4th Global Conference on Human Development in Cairo in 1996, ‘the Rise of Civil Society in the 21st Century’.  I hope to make it a responsibility of the new ICAI Board to help to ensure that this one is widely read.

That being said, readers should be forewarned that the structure and style of the 20 chapters are almost as diverse as the authors and the contexts of their experience.  The quality of reproduction of the photographs, and some minor typos particularly in the opening chapters, might I hope be addressed in a second edition for worldwide distribution by a print-on-demand service such as Lightning Source.

Read the book yourself, and please let us know what you think!

This post was first published on Martin Gilbraith’s blog.