By Gyalsten K Dorji
26 August, 2009 - The approach that humanity should not rely solely on economic indicators to measure progress is gaining ground in Thailand.
Generating a paradigm shift away from materialism, and towards public policies centred on alternative development practices, is the ambitious goal of a new school recently established, in collaboration with the centre for Bhutan studies (CBS), in the south-east Asian country.
The other two founding partners of the school are Chulalongkorn university and a non-governmental organisation that deals with social justice and ecological issues, the Sathirakoses Nagapradipa foundation.
The new institution, called the School for Well-being, describes itself as an independent think-tank, learning and research centre that will focus on empirically based advocacy. It will attempt to transform a wide range of society, from college students and “potential leaders,” to business entrepreneurs and government policy makers, towards “caring for ourselves, fellow sentient beings and nature.” By instilling such characteristics in its students, “genuine happiness” will be cultivated, which will empower people, leading to a transformation or paradigm shift towards a sustainable, socially just, and meaningful world.
But the institution will not be a Buddhist religious school. It will only draw on Buddhist practices and principles, according to officials of the school interviewed by Thai daily, the Nation.
To facilitate this objective, the school will offer inter-disciplinary studies to clarify the goals of the program, spiritual exercises, and cross cultural experiences. The latter will take place in Bhutan, because of its gross national happiness policy.
According to CBS president, Dasho (Dr) Karma Ura, students will travel and stay in Bhutan for ten days, during which CBS will provide an empirical platform of an alternative development practice and its achievements. The students will also interact with Bhutanese academics, public policy makers, religious personalities, and regular citizens.
Dasho Karma Ura expressed his happiness that CBS would be working with Chulalongkorn’s faculty of political science department, which will play the lead role in developing the school.
The school begins operating next month.