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Knowledge and Development*
The relationship between knowledge and development is a virtuous equation, and one that is increasingly strategic when considering the destiny of our people. However, the profound social, political and scientific transformations of our times force us to review our perceptions of this reality and its workings.
Today it is impossible to maintain the myths that created false expectations for development in the past, which created linear tendencies of human progress and wagered on the capacity of the technological revolution to pay for economic growth and equity. Reality has destroyed these simple ideas and surpassed the enthusiastic writings that only took into account part of the data and its relationship to the context. As a result, a second related revolution has been forming: that of what is done with knowledge and technology. And for quite some time a third revolution has been trying to evolve: the knowledge of knowledge. Perhaps like never before, an ethical and strategic demand has been placed on the field of knowledge for development, questioning what we do to learn, what we do with what we know and also, what are the implications of what we do.
A growing consciousness of the complexity of the world emerges in different discourses and debates. There is a need to change our understanding of the interdependence of phenomena, uncertainty, and the predictable and unpredictable destinies of our actions. On the other hand, we must also debate the deficiencies of the current dominant methods of knowing. As a result, from these different spheres, we seek a more integral, rather than traditional, perspective in how complex realities are treated.
There are three key aspects that should be considered when studying new relationships between knowledge and development:
First, we should encourage new methods of knowledge production that are based on complex and multidisciplinary perspectives and that favor research that overcomes views of discipline, practice, participation and process.
Secondly, when creating development policies, we should favor the link between research and policy in order to contribute – from a social sciences perspective -- relevant, pertinent and applicable knowledge for those who make political decisions.
Third and finally, we should consider the ethics of social intervention. As Edgar Morin says, we are on a Titanic; that is, we have impressive technological-scientific development, but no pilot to navigate us toward true human development. We must go beyond scientific “neutrality” to work continually towards the ethical assessment of our actions.?
Latin American Center for Human Economy (CLAEH)
*The ideas, thoughts, and opinions expressed are not necessarily of the OAS nor of its member states. The opinions expressed are the responsibility of the authors.