Centre for International Research in Human Unity (CIRHU)
The concept for a Centre of International Research in Human Unity (CIRHU) for Auroville was created in 1986. It was seen as a major project for Auroville – next to Matrimandir the biggest development project. It is foreseen that CIRHU will be a large campus in the city centre of Auroville.
In its early years, there was no real growth strategy but a great vision that would clearly need time, money and many people to help CIRHU establish itself in the material plane. In recent years however this seed of an idea has clearly begun to sprout.
The basic idea of CIRHU is to be a centre that explores the question of “how can we co-operate with and accelerate the evolutionary momentum towards creating a higher level of human consciousness and a new society that reflects that consciousness.”
Today in its infancy, CIRHU functions as a platform for a range of activities and programs that promotes, undertakes and hosts studies and research into this central question.
Specifically there is an educational dimension:
1. CIRHU is hosting and providing program input into study programs from visiting foreign universities and institutes. Increasingly, Auroville is being recognized as a site for transformational learning –a place that offers the possibility for designing flexible study programs that combine and synthesise different fields of knowledge with a spiritual foundation and integral approach that honours multiple ways of learning and knowing. CIRHU is coordinating and contributing to these learning experiences by providing an interface between the visiting institute and the many learning experiences that are available throughout Auroville. Institutes that are currently or preparing to bring a visiting student program to Auroville include:
- Students from the U.S. come for a semester abroad program coordinated by an organization called Living Routes (credited by the University of New Hampshire) two times per year. Through engagement with an integral approach to world issues that encompasses inner, cultural, and outer processes; students broaden and deepen their understanding of sustainability, ecology and community building, while exploring daily awareness practices such as yoga and meditation. (Visit www.livingroutes.com for more information).
- Each winter quarter, students from the University of Washington, Seattle come to study links between nature, spirit, and political theory, as well as sustainable development, resource conservation and community building. (Visit http://depts.washington.edu/chid/ for more information).
- The Indian Council of Architects is bringing student groups twice a year for courses in sustainability.
- Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado includes Auroville in their Sacred India tours.
- Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and Findhorn community in Scotland have conducted study groups in Auroville.
- Vestoppland Folk Highschool in Norway, offering a parallel, more holistic alternative to formal education for young adults (over 18), have brought a number of visiting student programs and plan to increase their programs in the coming years.
- We are increasingly receiving interest from other institutions and universities abroad that recognise Auroville as a “living learning centre” and would like to host programs on themes compatible with the ideals of Auroville. Recently a collaboration has been established with The California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), to bring two student groups to Auroville for programs in January 2005 on the themes of “spirituality, community and multi-culturalism in South India” and “an experiential course on India's contribution to Psychology”. (For more information visit www.ciis.edu). The University of California, Santa Cruz's anthropology department is planning to bring a student group in the summer of 2004. During the five-week program, students will be introduced to issues relating to sustainable agriculture, community building, women's empowerment and ecological movements through integrated field activities in and around Auroville.
2. The Laboratory of Evolution is a centre functioning under CIRHU that provides a space for independent research and self education. They have a library of books and audiocassettes that relate to the theme of evolution and consciousness development. They also give and host visiting lectures.
3. CIRHU is also creating opportunities for interactive learning for adults within Auroville. The recent Kosmos Festival was one example of a CIRHU initiative which provided a platform for guests and Aurovilians to explore together themes of relevance to our current planetary situation and with the purpose of instilling a sense in people that evolution is something that we can cooperate with rather than a passive experience.
4. CIRHU is also preparing a study semester in integral studies for next winter to be open to Aurovilians and visitors. We have begun by identifying over 50 educators in Auroville who have something to offer in the field of integral education and transformational learning and are in the process of consolidating these learning opportunities into a course catalogue.
5. CIRHU is supporting access to Auroville for independent learners, researchers and volunteers by offering a service to assist them with finding suitable placements and back-up support.
6. CIRHU will in coming years work to develop youth exchange programmes that will both enable youth who have grown up in Auroville to travel abroad and experience education and volunteering possibilities in other countries. CIRHU will also increasingly work to establish collaborations with international organisations including UNESCO who can co-operate to offer conferences and youth programs around the themes of human unity within Auroville.
There is also a research dimension:
- A Centre of Future Society and Human Unity functions under the CIRHU umbrella as a platform for research into the social and political experiments that are happening in Auroville relating to the application of the integral yoga.
- CIRHU is also offering training possibilities for Aurovilians into research methodologies with visiting specialists and creating forums for sharing and exchanging about the research that is happening throughout Auroville to further foster the ideal of a learning society and promote education through example.
In order to support the development of CIRHU, there is also infrastructure development happening in the form of development of hosting facilities and support service such as a publications unit that creates educational materials.