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Global Higher Education and Civil Society

In University World News -- -- this article argues for higher education paying more attention to its role as a major factor supporting civil society -- not only the government part or the corporate part, but all the rest of society, the "non-profit" notion of "public good." All the institutions and organizations that make civil society work. Or that makes society civil.

The article, then, makes an argument for a Project such as The Last Humans. Can global society act as one? Can it adopt one global mission statement to help society deal with the climate crisis? There are roughly 19,400 institutions of higher education in the world and about 250,000,000 students. This is the scale the human species needs now to cooperate to help our society survive climate change effects that will disrupt global human systems.

Slide toward a new feudalism

A number of countries in the world seem to have lost a clear vision or reality of civil society – that is, a society of laws and compassion – and instead seem to be sliding toward a new form of feudal state. Coincidentally, or maybe not so coincidentally, the climate crisis faces humanity at a time when we absolutely need a civil society to cooperate on a global level toward reversing climate change and toward preserving the human species.

As our Project points out, nations will not cooperate sufficiently in the next decade and the decades after to prevent a climate catastrophe that threatens our very existence.

Higher education, a non-profit (mostly) global business, has more students enrolled than the total population of most countries. It is a powerful human entity. We offer NewMaPP, a New Marshall Plan in Perpetuity, as a way for higher education to help save humanity. Higher education has already embraced climate change as a challenge, but the initiatives in higher education related to climate change focus exclusively – it seems – on sustainability and resilience for individual campuses.

This is a very limited embrace of the global challenge. No other global organization has the resources to preserve human society during climate disruption than higher education.

Our program is very simply this:

1. Adopt the mission statement from The Last Humans Project at every institution

2. Develop an institution-appropriate course of study to fulfill the mission.

3. That course of study will use existing problem-based or project-based courses, existing arrangements for internships or service learning, field study, study abroad, community learning, and so on, and in all cases using real-world problems related to human adaptation to inevitable climate disruptions in their region.

4. That course of study will include using writing, speaking, and all forms of human communication as a part of each course. Humans invented language 2.5 million years ago and language is the source of our greatest strength for cooperation and problem-solving. Language got us to the civilization we have and it will get us out of the threat facing it.

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