Reflecting on The Idea Of The communiversity
At all levels, education is now facing a crisis across the world. For many communities, schooling remains inaccessible. In many countries, including Nigeria, higher institutions have become elite qualification factories where a quarter of graduates must be given first class in order that they may gain a quota of the top jobs.
In most countries, university fees are prohibitive so as to exclude the children of plebeians. These challenges have called to question the nature and goals of universities and higher education in general.
This brings us to ask what kind of knowledge we need to survive in the present century and the next. We are all aware the current modes of knowledge creation and application do not address the challenges of the 21st century.
Which is why bridging the gap of dichotomy between being and knowing, research and innovation, theory and practice is all the more necessary for the well being of mankind. And for the first time in living memory, a group of scholars: Ronnie Lessem, an Afro European philosopher; Anselm Adodo a Catholic social scientist and Tony Bradley an Anglican economist have taken a step further and asked: Is it possible to reinvent the global university system?
In this unique book, The Idea of the Communiversity, these scholars propose a new strategy to the economic, social and technological transformation of society. To the extent that the current mode of knowledge creation and application fell short of addressing our challenges, these scholars have pointed the ways for reform. Through the fourfold model of community, pilgrimium, academy and co-laboratory, Lessem, Adodo and Bredley have re-conceptualised a university for every people and culture, centred on the need to think local and act global. This is different from our past experience of eras of post colonialism and decoloniality. This book ushers us into a new era, that of the Communiversity: the university rooted in the legends of the community and the scientific findings of the globe.
The Idea of the Communiversity was first published in the United Kingdom in 2019 by Beacon Books and Media Limited, Manchester. it is in paperback, hardback and eBook. It has four parts, 12 chapters, 376 pages, two pages of references and an index of six pages.
According to its preamble, the idea of the communiversity was born out of the communal, conscious raising and the commercial experiences of the three authors. Each of them with his academic and commercial societies, spreading over 120 years has sought to transcend the divide between industry, the academia, the spiritual, the material, community and economy, one cultural world and another.
Each of the authors has devoted his lifetime to bringing the different worlds together, especially those of the community and the university, albeit also aligned with spirituality and with private enterprise spread across the four corners of the world. Each started with his repetitive life stories which have led to The Idea of the Communiversity; an idea which is now being put into practice throughout the world today.
The Idea of the Communiversity emerged for the first time, through the experiences of the authors in the universities where they taught in Africa- in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria, in Europe- UK, Slovenia, the Middle East- Egypt, Jordan, in the Near East- Pakistan and to a lesser extent in North America.
Part one of the book comprises chapters one to five. This part dealt mainly with de-colonising the university by making the curriculum reflect the community in which the university is located.
The message was to transform schools to communiversity through learning about the community in theory and practice. Part two comprising chapters six and seven dealt with regenerating the university and making it to focus on the culture of the community vis-a-vis knowledge of the world at large. Part three is tagged research academy. It is about undertaking research on the community as the main purpose of the university.
Part four comprising chapters ten and eleven is the socio- economic laboratory of the university. It emphasizes practice as against theory and rote learning of the old order.
In conclusion, communitalism and communiversity have been coined as terms and concepts delineating the new approach to lifelong learning in the new millennium. For the authors: Ronnie Lessem is a Jew, studied economics at the University of Zimbabwe, the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School. He has written more than 50 books and focuses on regenerating emerging societies.
Father Anselm Adodo, a Nigerian, is a member of the Benedictine order of the Catholic Church. An ordained priest, Adodo is the founder and director of Pax Herbal Clinic and Research Laboratory. He is an adjunct lecturer in the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.
Reverend Tony Bradley is a lecturer in Social Economy and Enterprise at Liverpool Hope University Business, United Kingdom. He has had an unusual progression, having been a university don, an Anglican priest and a television and radio producer. Though permanently resident in UK, he has worked on projects in West Africa, South West Asia, and the Middle East. He is the co-leader of the team developing Communiversity Liverpool. The Idea of the Communiversity is his ninth book.