Infi nite dreams, infi nite growth, infi nite learning: the challenges of globalisation in a fi nite world
The theme of this paper is unashamedly utopian, reaching beyond any single academic discipline and looking at the hopes and the fears generated by this rapidly changing world. But it is one that reflects some of the current concerns in global politics, partly initiated by the UK government and partly expressed as a response to the tsunami disaster. This is a world of globalisation and, perhaps, it is the effects of these global processes, especially disasters, that have made us aware that we live in a global village and that we are all one people, with all our similarities and our differences – glocalisation as well as globalisation. Beck (1992), for instance, argued that globalisation has a standardising effect on the world and I think that he is to some extent correct, but it was long before the effects of globalisation that we first became aware that we are a world of nations that should be united, and even before then religious thinkers and other idealists looked upon humankind as a whole. We are all one people, united in our humanity and, perhaps, in our ideals although certainly not always in our cultures, aspirations or practices. We live in a world in which we seek to understand and to give meaning to our lives. But, despite the efforts of science over many centuries, it is a world that we do not and cannot understand. Science examines facts and empirical evidence but no fact has intrinsic meaning. It is we who give facts meaning; it is we who have dreams and visions of a world where empirical realities may be put to different uses as we, the people, seek to discover our humanity and our unity.