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A new Renaissance: transforming science, spirit and society (David Lorimer & Oliver Robinson, eds.)

Edited by David Lorimer & Oliver Robinson

Floris Books, Edinburgh, (2010)

ISBN: 978 086315 759 2 (Pbk)

David Lorimer is a writer, lecturer, editor and Programme Director of the Scientific and Medical Network, an international group of academics and professionals dedicated to an open-minded exploration of the boundaries of science. He is also president of the Wrekin Trust and Chief Executive of Character Education Scotland. David has written a number of books including ‘Radical Princes: The Practical Vision of the Prince of Wales’, ‘Spirit of Science: From Experiment to Experience’ and more notably ‘Thinking Beyond the Brain: A Wider Science of Consciousness’. He will be delivering a talk at OUPS Conference in July. Oliver Robinson is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich, an Honorary Teaching Fellow at Birbeck College and a manager of the Scientific and Medical Network. Dr Robinson has been at the University of Greenwich since 2006 and is Programme Leader for the BSc Hons Psychology with Counselling degree. His specialist area is adult development and he has recently published a textbook on the topic. His particular research interests are in how personality and mental health are affected by major life transitions during adulthood.

The book is billed as a cutting-edge collection of essays responding to the crises in today’s world. The essays span diverse areas including science, spirituality, consciousness, politics, economics and education. The book also attempts to diagnose the causes of the crisis in today’s world and searches for new understandings to show a way forward. The book is broken down into four main topic areas, Worldviews in Transition, Consciousness and Mind in Science and Medicine, Spirituality and New Understandings of the Sacred, and the final section, Global and Local Transformation: Governance, Economics and Education.

There are a number of notable contributors including Iain McGilchrist (also talking at OUPS conference 2014) whose piece is titled Recapturing the Whole: Brain hemispheres and the Renewal of Culture. Other contributors include Chris Clarke (New Science: New Earth), Max Payne (Beyond the Material: The New Renaissance and Agnostic Spirituality) and HRH Prince of Wales on Restoring Harmony and Connection: Inner and Outer, which formed part of his speech to the Foreign Press Association Media awards in London, 2008. Oliver Robinson’s own contribution is on Modernity and the Trans-modern Shift.

There is a fascinating essay by Ian Cunningham, who is visiting Professor in Organisational Capability at Middlesex University; Chair of Strategic Developments International Ltd, and Chair of the Centre for Self-Managed Learning. His contribution is Why Schooling is a Major Contributor to the Crisis – And What can be Done About it. Cunningham uses the Scientific and Medical Network’s Manifesto for Change (Robinson, Lorimer and Clarke, 2009) as a starting point and then introduces nine models of learning, which he refers to as the ‘P-MODE’. He notes that young people have imposed on them the subject knowledge and solutions to the problems that they have not yet formulated or the solution distorts the way the problem is addressed. He suggests that schooling has a significant impact on how people approach the global world, its problems and how they address them. These are some of the present problems that are not understood or are ignored by those who hold the power to take major decisions in education. Does anyone spring instantly to mind one asks?

Ultimately these essays are a cultural response to the failings of the materialist world. The final section investigates possible reforms in politics, economics and education to help to establish a society that can sustain the thriving of human beings in the modern world. All the contributors have obviously rigorously researched their essays with factual and scientific information and have produced this book logically and involving many aspects of the present global transformations.

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