Creating moral agents of change
This thesis’ methodology favors an adaptable yet sustainable approach to Sport for Development and Peace facilitating moral development, aiming to transform and create an identity of empowerment and togetherness. Initially the program should facilitate and mediate, suggesting a moral based on Simon’s ‘mutual quest for excellence’; a virtue taught through liberal education and experienced through sport or similar means. Beyond the program, participants are meant to be self-directed, to spread the word and assist others in developing the ability of situational and critical self-reflection, so that they themselves learn and experience the benefits of celebrating diversity. Each participant will find himself in different situations and confronted with various needs and wants. Nevertheless, the experienced and learned code of conduct (i.e. the mutual strive to allow and achieve excellence) is both universal and impartial as such it helps to find common ground in a state of conflict, allowing former participants in such a program to become moral agents of change, as the following illustrates:
Figure 6: Moral agents of change
The suggested methodology understands moral development as a two-step process: initially being cyclic, in which we experience and learn to understand that just behavior is mutually beneficial. With continuous practice acting upon accepted moral values (i.e. an agreed social contract) participants reach a level that allows them to apply norms to other social worlds, outside the suggested SDP program. Program procedures need to remain flexible, focused on the specifics, and addressing the needs of all participants. Changing contextual factors need to be monitored constantly and explanations and exemplifications according to altered realities taken into account. Adjustments to the program, however, will remain minor, given that all participants’ freely agreed to adhere to a social contract. Nevertheless, the process of adaptation comes with experience and is somewhat induced by the program itself, as it attempts to change the social order of things. Thus, scholars and practitioners have to work hand-in-hand; best practices need to lead theory, as theory need to frame reality.
SDP a cooperative and bidirectional learning experience
Research suggests that while implementing SDP, local partnerships have to be established and residents integrated in the decision-making process (i.e. external mediators) so that a sustainable impact can be made. Schulenkorf (2010) titled them change agents that ‘help establish contact, open negotiations and develop projects for cooperation and sustainable development’ (p. 119). Particularly because education and sport are both normative environments where a consensus about the means – the how – needs to be found, cooperation is inevitable. Even though this thesis has offered a rather detailed guide, specifics need to consider circumstances and explicit needs of a community. Programs following the approach hitherto suggested should not undermine the inherent transformative strength of the host; sustainable solutions to pressing needs come from within; paternalism has no place in moral development.
The likelihood of finding ‘Western solutions’ and difficulty to accept and adapt to something likely unheard of is high, though given the openness and adaptability of this thesis’ framework, not inevitably impossible. We need to start somewhere, but shouldn’t be afraid to change or admit to wrongful assumptions made in the past. As a third party, we need to remain supportive and facilitative in planning, development, execution, and seeing through change (Kramer & Specht, 1975; Sanoff, 2000; Skinner et al., 2008). Decentralized decision making might lack the depth required to form a need-based strategy for local development initiatives. Community-based development programs develop from within; external agents are to facilitate, not to coercively interfere, which would reflect mistrust in a group’s inner strength. If participants can’t freely decide to attend, but we need to force them, or basic human needs are at stake (e.g., lack of fresh water, malnutrition, etc.), human lives in danger (e.g., war) the methodology won’t work. How could we claim that our approach is meant to develop an innate sense of moral duty based on free acceptance of principles, if violence is inescapable and survival a daily endeavor? Finally, and paradoxically, the framework suggested is mainly based on scholars from the West, yet this thesis claims that the tools discussed and moral values outlined remain subject to specifics of the hosting community. Thus this paper does not want to claim SDP as being an international, Western standard (Lindsey and Gratten, 2011) suitable for any situation globally. It wants to classify it as a cooperative social movement; one in which social and cultural diversity are the pillars which sustainable and positive change are built upon. Learning is bidirectional, and so is mutual understanding, where lessons are derived and experiences made from both sides.