Sowing Seeds - URI’s Global Support Network
Today, as we experience URI’s thriving worldwide interfaith network of grassroots organizers in 107 countries, it’s good to recall that once URI’s network was just a seed, an emerging idea that invited people to dialogue about it. Gurudev Khalsa was one of a team of PhD students in Organizational Development at Case Western School of Management who planted vital seeds by asking guiding questions and catalyzing dialogues. Gurudev led a URI staff retreat in 2000, which was intended to explore URI’s approach to global capacity building.
Funny how so much can ride on a name. Given how long we struggled with “United Religions” then landed on retaining the word, “Initiative,” I don’t doubt we will have many more debates as we talk about capacity-building for URI. If we are to heed the concerns of our Southern brothers and sisters, that we avoid even the appearance of U.S. (and I might add patriarchal) educational imperialism, then we have got to do better than an “Institute” headquartered in the U.S., complete with “Dean” and “Fellows” and an organization chart that appears not to have advanced much beyond the colonial era. I think calling URI an “interfaith global support network” would be good, for it suggests something about purpose (interfaith support), the scope (global), and its organizational form (network).
I believe that URI’s approach to capacity-building must distinguish itself by the degree of consciousness that is brought to this question [how capacity building happens in URI] and the uniqueness of practice that results.
How do we support a culture that continues to treat the PPP as a living basis for the organization?
In URI we should appreciate dialogue as a basis for development. Learning the skills of dialogue and being able to use them in situations as varied as a first formative meeting of Cooperation Circle to a conflict transformation intervention, is crucial. We need to experience how transformational dialogue can be, not just talking for the sake of talking.
Today, Gurudev is a consultant in Strategy, Leadership and Organizational Development. He is president of TriLight Development located in Broomfield, Colorado.
Read more posts in the Every Voice series, which presents thought-provoking quotes showing how people all over the world give voice to URI.