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Research in Auroville

Exploring a sustainable future
workshop, September 14-19, 2009


Research in Auroville

WHY research?

Auroville's vocation as a centre for research, exploration and experimentation is made very explicit in its Charter, which speaks of  a place of unending education, a bridge between the past and the future, and a site of material and spiritual researches.

Aurovilians are societally bound to keep questing, to work out a new way of life in accordance with this, our given curriculum. Furthermore, many governments, organisations and individuals around the world have invested generously (in money, time and energy) in Auroville's development as a positive global model. It is our obligation as participants in this living laboratory to reflect our progress, study it, and share our findings with the world.

Research WHAT?

In Auroville, the themes of research are extremely diverse and multi-disciplinary. As a living laboratory, research, exploration and experimentation is being carried out in all the areas of life that Auroville is involved with: arts and culture, new economy and society, renewable technologies and architecture, east-west relations, education, health and healing, agriculture and forestry, evolution and consciousness. A study carried out over the last two years into the range of research activities that Aurovilians are engaged with showed that out of the 80 known active researchers that have been so far interviewed, over 50 are engaged in a theme that is synthetic in some way i.e. it relates various themes

together into a synthesis of knowledge. Also, many see research as not just resulting in an outer discovery but additionally see an inner, perhaps spiritual dimension to their research and investigations.

Research HOW?

The key words for describing the methods of research in Auroville are experiential and - like the range of themes that are researched - diverse. Non-academic and practical research prevails. Research in Auroville has a lot to do with an attitude, an orientation towards life here as well as towards specific research behaviours such as evaluation, documentation and feedback.

A lot of the research is decentralised, conducted by individuals in a kind of self-study approach. There are also, however, over 23 existing centres of research that are team based, many of which produce publications and provide training programmes that share the results of their researches and explorations with students in Auroville, India and abroad. While some of the research is published or documented in journals and archives, a lot is part of an individual inner experience that can be tapped by speaking with them, or simply by observing them as they go about daily life.

Then there are over 120 known academic/scientific research publications about Auroville itself which have been documented under the headings of architecture and town planning, ecology and alternative technology, Auroville from a social/political perspective and Integral yoga, which covers philosophy and the application of Sri Aurobindo's and Mother's vision.

The future of research in Auroville

Research and experimentation are a given part of the work we all must do in Auroville. Auroville has the ultimate mission to develop into an educational research centre, not only for India but also for the world. The degree to which Auroville will be able to fulfill this mission will, to a large extent, depend on the participation of as many groups, individuals and nations of the world as possible, and also on a collective orientation around this theme within Auroville itself.

To facilitate this direction, a proposal is being prepared by the Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research (SAIIER) to expand in a significant way the capacity for Auroville to undertake and develop new research activities and programmes. This initiative will enable both an expansion of the existing team-based research centres and the development of new centres such as the Centre for International Research in Human Unity (CIRHU). The proposed project will greatly enhance Auroville's capacity to provide a platform for researchers to further deepen their work, exchange with others within Auroville, India and abroad, and ultimately be a catalyst for Auroville to deliberately orient itself around the theme of a learning society - a society in which everyone is a teacher as well as a student and where the main economy will be that of an exchange of knowledge rather than the unsustainable practices of a society orientated around consumption of goods.



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