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Batalden Seminar features Mexican writer, activist

bataldenThe 2010 Batalden Seminar in Applied Ethics will feature Gustavo Esteva, a writer and activist who is also the founder of the Universidad de la Tierra in the Mexican city of Oaxaca. Esteva will speak Friday and Saturday in the Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center.

[From] Gustavo is an independent writer, a grassroots activist, and a deprofessionalized intellectual. He works both independently and in conjunction with a variety of Mexican NGOs and grassroots organizations and communities. He has been a key figure in founding several Mexican, Latin American and International NGOs and networks.

Though not an economist by training, he received Mexico’s National Prize of Political Economy for his contribution to the theory of inflation, and though not a sociologist was President of the 5th World Rural Sociology Congress. He also served as President of the Mexican Society of Planning, as Vice-president of the Inter-American Society of Planning, and served as Board Member and Interim Chairman of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.

In his early career, he held senior positions in both private business and government, and was destined for a distinguished career within Mexico’s establishment. He decided, however, that solutions to people’s problems could come only from the people themselves and has since dedicated himself to their service.

He is a well known writer, with three dozen books and hundreds of essays and articles published around the world in numerous languages. Through regular columns in leading Mexican newspapers, he takes special interest in expanding public awareness about the reality and hopes of the so called poor with whom he is associated.

Gustavo is an active voice within the “deprofessionalized” segment of the Southern intellectual community. He rejects both the terminology and constructs of development in all its forms as inherently destructive of the human processes by which common people work to recreate community as a creative expression of their culture and aspirations. Gustavo argues that even the “alternative” development prescriptions lead inexorably to depriving the people of control over their own lives and shifting this control to bureaucrats, technocrats, and educators. Rather than presume that human progress fits some predetermined mold leading toward an increasing homogenization of cultures and life styles, he prefers a “radical pluralism” that honors and nurtures distinctive culture variety and enables many paths to the realization of self-defined aspirations. In Grassroots Postmodernism: Remaking the Soil of Cultures and Escaping Education: Living as Learning at the Grassroots, that he wrote with Madhu S. Prakash, he elaborates on his thesis.

He was invited by the Zapatistas to be their advisor, in 1996. Since then, he has been very active in what today is called Zapatismo, involving himself with the current struggle of the indigenous peoples. He lives in a small Zapotec village in the south of Mexico.

The Batalden Seminar in Applied Ethics

The annual Batalden Seminar is funded by the Batalden Applied Ethics Fund, established by Abner and Martha Batalden, Paul and LaVonne Batalden, and Stephen and Sandra Batalden. The fund brings national and

international authorities in the field of ethics to Augsburg College to discuss questions of applied ethics within spiritual and practical dimensions.

Friday, February 26, 2010, 10 a.m. “Beyond Development and Education: The Good Life”

Saturday, February 27, 2010, Noon, “From Crisis to Commons”



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