In The Age of Culture, D. Paul Schafer draws on a lifetime of research and reflection to consider the implications of the cultural world view and the promise it holds for improving the human prospect. Arguing that the current world system is overly dominated by economics, Schafer considers the prerequisites for a cultural age, the ways in which such an age would transform patterns of human life, and the advances in human fulfilment that the advent of such an age and its associated values would bring. Since the first international conference on cultural policy was held in Venice in 1970, culture has grown increasingly important to nations and individuals alike. In less than fifty years, culture has moved from being seen as a peripheral activity in the world to being utterly indispensable to the achievement of vital social and developmental goals. It’s now clear that culture in the broadest sense—the sum of human experience and achievement—is intimately connected to all the world’s most pressing problems. Such challenges are legion: climate change, inequality, resource depletion, and conflicts between different nations, ethnic groups, and individuals. None of these problems can be addressed effectively, much less resolved, without recourse to the holistic, all-encompassing perspective that culture provides.
Paul Schafer has spent much of his life wrestling with these issues and demonstrating why culture has a crucial role to play in addressing them. The Age of Culture is a book that is timely, urgent—yet ultimately hopeful.
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News about The Age of Culture
The Age of Culture was highlighted in a speech by Ambassador Karl-Erik Norrman to the University Network of the European Capitals of Culture Conference in Umea, Sweden. Read Ambassador Norrman's speech here.
Paul Schafer was interviewed by the Coalition for Cultural Diversity, on the importance of culture to humanity's future. Read the interview here.
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"Paul Schafer’s vision of the centrality of culture to our lives, to societal development, and to the future of civilization has shaped policy development at the local, national, and international level over the last four decades. His contribution to Canadian cultural policy has been an important influence in shaping all that is right about our policies today. Paul’s writing is inspirational; his message cannot be ignored." -- Joyce Zemans, Senior Scholar and University Professor Emerita, MBA Program in Arts and Media Administration, Schulich School of Business, York University and Former Director of the Canada Council for the Arts
Introduction by David Stover
Foreword by Federico Mayor
I PREREQUISITES FOR A CULTURAL AGE
1. Foundations for Life
2. Towards a New World Order
3. The Cultural Imperative
4. The Millennium Challenge
II FUNDAMENTALS OF A CULTURAL AGE
5. Functioning of a Cultural Age
6. Priorities for a Cultural Age
III GLIMPSES INTO A CULTURAL AGE
7. The Cultural Personality
8. The Culturescape
9. Culture and Spirituality
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"In this visionary book, Paul Schafer makes a compelling case for a new approach to global development. He argues that culture in all of its many forms needs to be brought into balance with the longstanding economic imperatives of products and profits that have for so long preoccupied the citizens of Planet Earth. He proposes that we need to achieve an equilibrium between the quantitative and qualitative dimensions of life. He states that “this would require a fundamental change in our beliefs, behaviour, customs, actions and lifestyles such as placing a higher value on people and values. "In advancing his bold proposition for a more caring, sharing, creative and sustainable world, Schafer reflects on his own personal history of encountering cultural influences at an early age. His childhood exposure to and experiences with artistic culture make a powerful case that every child should have access to a comprehensive education in the arts.To have been encouraged as a child to participate in a wide range of artistic expressions shaped his life and his profound belief in the need for a paradigm shift. "We are living at a time when growing importance is being placed on creativity and nnovation.This book suggests the positive lasting impact that could emerge from investing in arts education as the foundation for the stimulation of the creativity which exists in all of us. I have no doubt that before long a more culturally literate population will become powerful advocates for the necessity of a transition to the 'age of culture' which Paul Schafer has so persuasively proposed."
-- John Hobday, C.M., former director, Canada Council for the Arts; currently vice-chair of the Canadian Network for Arts and Learning
"The Age of Culture is undoubtedly the climax of Schafer's numerous works on culture. Paul is a brilliant scholar with perseverance in seeking the truth. I came to know him nearly 20 years ago as co-contributors to the Croatia-based UNESCO journal Culturelink. We shared a common understanding concerning the holistic nature of culture. I appreciated his efforts in creating and leading the World Culture Project and was very much impressed with his endless energy in stressing the importance of culture in world development.
"With the translation and publication in China of his two books Culture: Beacon of the Future and Revolution or Renaissance: Making the Transition from an Economic Age to a Cultural Age, his outstanding ideas and clear-cut stand on culture are getting more and more response among scholars and readers in China. "The Age of Culture is a continuation and summarization of his valuable ideas and discourses on culture. The theorization is profound, the analysis is comprehensive, and what is most significant and convincing is the fact that much of the contents of the book are closely related to and connected with the author’s own personal experiences in life. The conclusion is naturally inevitable. "An important recent meeting in Beijing called for deepening of reform and re-orientation of development in China. At the core of this re-orientation is a shift from GDP-driven economic growth to balanced development serving the needs of people, with more attention to cultural, social, ecological, and human development. This trend is inevitable not only for China, but also for the whole world. I think The Age of Culture has provided a detailed description of what is required in this regard."
-- Gao Xian, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing
"The Age of Culture is essential reading for those striving to live in a world shaped by spiritual, intellectual, moral, and aesthetic values. D. Paul Schafer believes that we are standing at the threshold of a new era of global development and human affairs that should be driven by a holistic cultural perspective. I am convinced by his argument that we must now move beyond our current failed systems for dealing with global challenges and shift from an economic to a cultural age that redefines and links together the powerful forces of culture, the arts, creativity, and the natural environment to embrace new notions of wealth, education, democracy, citizenship, and well-being." -- Robert Palmer, International Cultural Advisor and Former Director of Culture, Diversity, and Democratic Governance at the Council of Europe
"Schafer's highly personal testimony reminds us that culture is incarnate, real, tangible, sculpted by our multiple narratives. He envisions a panorama we can artfully portray together as we map, share, and draw inspiration from each others' diverse culturescapes." -- Dr. George Simons, Founder, Author, and Editor-in-Chief, diversophy.com
"In The Age of Culture, D. Paul Schafer shows the tremendous possibilities of tomorrow, if we start making the necessary changes today. He demonstrates clearly and convincingly why we need to transition from an economic age to an age of culture. It is a groundbreaking book which lets us know without a doubt that it is culture that connects everything. Rich in details and clear in big-picture thinking, this book strikes a fine balance between information and vision." -- Thierry Dufay, Arts, Culture and Education Forum, The Netherlands
"Paul Schafer's The Age of Culture should be a standard text in our high schools. Let’s also put it in the hands of university students and professionals in economics, community development, ecology, spirituality, human relations, and not just the arts, humanities, and cultural field. This thoughtful and beautifully-written book ushers us into our world – this very world in which we live right now – that vibrates and radiates with varied shapes, sounds, textures, and colours. Schafer brilliantly positions the raw and pure nature of the arts and culture, their beauty and transcendence, alongside their significance as a driving force for building prosperity and better places to live. I'm grateful for the depth of The Age of Culture. Schafer strikes the right balance of scholarly reference with his own progressive theories. He invites us to consider the value of looking through a more holistic lens grounded in the arts and culture, not only at our world at present, but also in building a better world in the future." -- Sheila Jans, CultureWorth