Because Un Mundo recognizes and addresses subjective as well as objective factors of under-development, education pervades all Un Mundo projects and programs. Our education process can best be described as pedagogical dialogue, defined as interactive and reflective cognition as opposed to the mere transfer of static ideas.2 We view pedagogical dialogue as a personal exchange, founded in the love, humility, and faith that transcend class and make true solidarity a possibility - an exchange that implies a respectful recognition of the worldview of others. Our embrace of pedagogical dialogue is at the heart of all we do, and inspired by the simple but revolutionary belief that through the undeniable force of honest dialogue men and women can achieve the unity and critical consciousness necessary to effect authentic change in their lives.3 The vital role for such a pedagogical approach to development work is apparent in the too numerous ironies of under-development, such as the multitudes of farmers whose children are malnourished because they sell every bit of what they produce, or the countless ill who die next to donated medical equipment no one knows how to install or use. Un Mundo is revolutionary in that we address the subjective factors of under-development through pedagogical dialogue, and comprehensive in that our methodology addresses the objective factors of under-development.
Un Mundo achieves these goals through a comprehensive approach based in deep trust, the cultivation of meaningful relationships and a profound belief in human potential, which is accomplished through a long-term commitment and 100% immersion of the organization and its staff in the communities in which we work. Un Mundo's approach is based on strengthening and developing communities to set their own goals and organize themselves to accomplish their collective needs in the areas of public health, education and economic sustainability. Un Mundo’s methodology begins with designing community development projects with local communities in the areas of health, education or sustainable livelihoods. The projects are unique solutions designed specifically by and for each community, drawing from intensive investigation conducted by community groups of best-practices from other similar regions or communities. Un Mundo acts largely as a resource for community projects, providing providing support and structure in technical areas, training and community organizing. Any locally originating project is eligible for Un Mundo support as long as it is conceived in a democratic fashion, conforms to UM’s mission, and benefits the community as a whole and not just one or two families or wealthy members of the community. Un Mundo partners with communities on a long-term basis. These communities are strategically selected to benefit a wider area and eventually form a support network with other Un Mundo communities.
Our projects and programs are designed not to integrate under-developed peoples into an unjust social order, but to transform that oppressive order and the debilitating world view of under-developed peoples so that they can more fully realize their potential. We ensure that our methodology realizes our mission faithfully by requiring that all our projects and programs promote our carefully articulated objectives.
All Un Mundo projects and programs are designed to incorporate our immediate, intermediate, and long-term objectives. Our immediate objectives are to facilitate access to health care, education, and livable wages. Our intermediate objectives are to realize a pedagogical exercise promoting unity and critical consciousness. And our long-term and ultimate objectives are to promote dignity, community, and self-sufficiency. While our immediate and intermediate objectives are 'instrumental,' in that they help to advance our long-term objectives by directly addressing the objective and subjective factors of under-development, we also directly promote our long-term objectives by always limiting our active participation to that of merely facilitating our programs and projects.
1 Un Mundo's conception and evaluation of development borrows heavily from the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen. See Development as Freedom. Sen, Amartya. Anchor Books, New York, NY. 1999. (Chapter 1, The Perspective of Freedom, and Chapter 2, The Ends and Means of Development.)
2 Un Mundo's approach to the subjective factors of underdevelopment borrows heavily from the Pulitzer prize–winning work of Paulo Freire. See Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire, Paulo. Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. New York, NY. 1970.
3 For an elaboration of the moral and political power of the word, see, Our Word is Our Weapon: Selected Writings of Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. Ed., Ponce de Leon, Juana. Seven Stories Press, New York, NY. 2001. (Preface; Chapter 14, The Word and the Silence.) And for an understanding of the history and present role of pedagogical dialogue within development work, see, The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power, Ed. Sachs, Wolfgang, Zed Books Ltd. London. 1992. (Participation, pg. 116.)