Speaker Series

Ashok Panikkar is an international speaker who brings a multi-disciplinary approach to some of the most pressing issues of our time. He is available to speak to intimate and large groups, domestically and internationally, on the vulnerabilities of democratic societies and what can be done to strengthen and nurture them.

“I thought Ashok’s presentation was very well done! He was able to present to us in a fun and engaging way (I was expecting a lecture). I liked how he broke up the presentation with group work and interactive tasks as well.”

DEMOCRACY and citizenship

What makes a democracy? Is there more to one than institutions, rule of law and elections? What makes a citizen different from a subject of a monarchy or a theocracy?

PHILOSOPHY AND ESTHETICS OF DEMOCRACY

Democracy is a counter-intuitive philosophy, a radically different way of looking at ordering human society. It is also a thing of beauty, an artistic process that produces out of competing dreams, hopes, frailties and ideologies, a delicately choreographed, constantly changing humane world.

BUILDING COMMUNITY IN THE AGE OF DISCONTINUITY

Mass urbanization, technology and globalization have taken a toll on traditional communities, even as new ones have struggled to sustain themselves. Our survival as a sentient species requires us to create humane relationships and community in this time of fragmentation and discontinuity.

CREATING THE DEMOCRATIC CHARACTER

Democracy as elections and institutions is dangerously reductive. At the core of the democratic society are the values and character of the most important unit, the citizen.

DEMOCRATIC VULNERABILITIES

Citizens in the US, UK, Turkey and India, like other democracies have, for far too long, taken their open and free political system for granted. Democracies are uniquely vulnerable. Their noisy discourse, clumsy and seemingly endless deliberations and messy deal making can quite easily regress into chaos, anarchy and finally despotism.

DEVELOPING THE SOCIAL CONTRACT AND COVENANT

All government is based upon an implicit or explicit understanding between the rulers and the ruled. Democracy, being rule by the people themselves, requires the crafting of an understanding that, in giving government permission to govern and citizens their rights and responsibilities, makes all parties accountable for their actions and behaviors.

DEMOCRACY, DIVERSITY AND THE COLLABORATIVE ARTS

Democracy can be said to be a political system best designed to manage diversity without taking recourse to oppression. Managing diversity requires balancing complex interests and values through the use of the collaborative arts such as dialogue, negotiation and consensus building.