July-August 2009

Dear friends,

We are happy to launch our dialoguing activity with an interview with Fr. Benu Penoukou from Togo on the African palaver tradition.

Our first dialogue is on the theme of consensus. In the postmodern West, consensus has become both a new decision-making method and a new ethic. Many non-western cultures, in particular African and Asian, have traditionally been consensual. Hence a historic convergence is taking place today, leading to a global consensus culture. This evolution raises numerous questions.

The African palaver inspires our own dialoguing activity, which is not geared towards the production of abstract formulas providing sheerly intellectual answers to the challenges of the new culture, but towards a common and always open search for what is real, true and good for humanity. We want to recover, through friendship and dialogue, a sense of human community.

In view of a forthcoming interactive seminar on consensus, we have begun preparing a series of modules, two of which are available on our website : one on the “convergences and divergences between Western postmodern consensus and the African palaver tradition”, and the other on the “opportunities of the consensus culture : rediscovering a sense of human community”. It is useful to keep in mind the aim of our learning forum : to provide users, and students in particular, with the tools they need to apprehend contemporary political and cultural realities with discernment and responsibility.

Dear friends, we eagerly await your reactions and contributions.

May you have a restful and happy summer.

Marguerite A. Peeters