Our Philosophy of Education

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Nelson Mandela once stated, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  The Parkmore Institute wants nothing less than to contribute to changing the world in some of the many ways that change is urgently needed, and to do so by facilitating the education of individuals who are committed to far‑reaching social, cultural, political and personal transformation.

But what sort of education is needed?  In 1968 that great year of revolutionary fervour throughout the North Atlantic orbit, Paulo Freire wrote a powerful critique of what he called the “banking concept” of education.  This is the idea that “education” means filling the Candidate with information and values that will make him or her into a “good citizen,” who will serve in the perpetuation of the status quo and achieve remunerative positions in the structure of globalized corporate capitalism.  The Faculty and Fellows of the Parkmore Institute do not subscribe to this concept of “education.”  These scholars are a diverse group of individuals, almost all of whom have earned PhDs at the most prestigious universities in the world.  Yet they share a concern that “education” in wealthy countries has, in recent decades, become increasingly appropriated and subordinated to the requirements of corporate capitalism and its ancillary nationalist and militarist organizations.  In developing countries, educational opportunities are increasingly emulative of this trend.

What is education?  W. E. B. Du Bois, the great anti‑racist scholar and civil rights activist, once wrote that “education must not simply teach work, it must teach life.”  The Faculty and Fellows of the Parkmore Institute, as diverse a collegial community as this is, share this core belief.  Education should address and facilitate the life experiences of each Candidate, not be geared to the requirements of corporations or governments.  It must facilitate the growth of each Candidate, not so much to adjust prosperously to an unjust world, but to grow in social and personal awareness and meaningful activism, to move toward an enlightenment that is authentically transformative.

For reasons of these principles, the current strategy of the Parkmore Institute is to offer educational opportunities in line with five key tenets:

  • The Institute focuses on disciplines that are of immediate relevance to activists and practitioners and that utilize psychoanalytic, psychodynamic and psychosocial insight.  Accordingly, its contributions are geared to the educational needs of individuals working in areas such as community action, ecology and environmental protection, civil liberties and human rights, sexual health and freedom, bodywork and somatic psychotherapy, psychoanalytic treatments, and political organization.
  • The Institute will be independent of any interference or regulation by governmental agencies, and will not seek financial sponsorship from corporations or state entities.  Rather, the quality of its education will be ensured by the integrity and eminence of its Faculty and Fellows, as well as by the availability of all its research products for review by the public.
  • The Institute will offer degrees and diplomas that have genuine educational value, rather than qualifications that serve as external credentials.  Thus, for example, although almost all the Institute’s Faculty and Fellows have earned PhDs from some of the world’s most prestigious universities, the Institute will not offer this research degree, but rather it will develop professional doctorates that innovatively recognize the achievements of activists and practitioners who are working in the field.  Similarly, the diploma qualifications offered by the Institute will be a mark of achievement for individuals, who may not have previous tertiary education but who are actively committed to social and personal change.  At this time, the Institute does not offer programs at the bachelors or masters levels.
  • The Institute’s educational offerings will be geared to the needs of each individual Candidate.  That is, the Institute seeks to facilitate the training of individuals who are already experienced and active in fields associated with social and personal change.  When a Candidate is interested in a doctoral degree or a diploma program, his or her educational aspirations and needs will be assessed, both by the Candidate and by a member of the Insitute’s Faculty.  An individualized program of learning will then be formulated.  All learning will be in the context of a one‑on‑one tutorial system that pairs the individual Candidate with an appropriate Faculty member.
  • The Institute strives to create a community of those scholars and activists, who share a commitment to education in the service of liberation from oppression and also of our human aspiration towards freedom and justice.  The Faculty and Fellows of the Institute participate in various forums for the exchange of ideas and the sharing of research products.  This participation will include the development of a peer‑reviewed online journal, Critique and Praxis, that will publish articles and commentaries.  All doctoral graduates of the Institute, as well as those who receive diplomas, may be invited to join the Institute as “Associate Fellows.”

In line with these precepts: The Parkmore Institute is committed to offering doctoral studies to individuals in a way that does not interrupt their career activities or professional practices.  There are no residency requirements.  Candidates work with Faculty on a one‑to‑one basis, typically using email, skype or similar arrangements.  Occasionally, small seminars are offered; again on a virtual basis.  Additionally, the Parkmore Institute is committed to making every effort for doctoral education to be affordable to those who, as activists or practitioners, often do not command substantial incomes or have access to significant other resources. 

This is the Parkmore Institute’s approach to education for the future … we hope you will join us as a Candidate or as a member of our community of Faculty and Fellows.

The Parkmore Institute has offices in South Africa (Johannesburg, Gauteng) and the USA (Wilmington, Delaware).  However, it is currently expanding and welcomes applications from prospective students, as well as potential Faculty and Fellows, from all parts of the world.