PHOTO BY JONAS BENDIKSEN

Jonas Bendiksen / MAGNUM / Agentur Focus / Bangladesh. Kurigram District. 2010.

This image is an iconic example of 20th century magazine photography, the camera is wielded in a confident and enlightened sense to show what is real, to show what is happening, to show what it means to be human in a particular time and age. This notion of truth – and the media itself – have recently come under attack, in related struggles. But it remains crucial to go out into the world and to document what is going on, because this is what reporting means: collecting texts, voices, images. And this is what Jonas Bendiksen does, a Norwegian photographer who was an apprentice at Magnum, the iconic photo agency, of which he later became a member and, subsequently, was appointed president for a while. He went on to travel the world. He published a book about Russia, he showed life in the slums of Nairobi, Mumbai, Jakarta and Caracas. His images present small dramas within the big drama of history unfolding. They are humane in their attention to detail and character, evocative in their use of light, and informative about the world we live in. The image we chose to present tells the story of a group of climate refugees in Bangladesh carrying the roof of their mosque inland, as the old site was threatened by rising sea level. Barefoot they scramble, together they walk.

THE FOUNDATIONS OF VALUE AND VALUES

What is a Sustainable Value-System for the 21st Century?

Our ambition of inspiring action, creating impact, and driving change is fundamentally tied to changing mindsets and behaviours from the individual to the public sphere. The context of our post-Covid-19 world presents challenges and opportunities for reimagining a value-driven society to address the crises and complexities of the present and the future.


  • Are there universal values grounded in the human condition?
  • What behavioural and systemic adjustments might endure?
  • What are necessary and fertile conditions for these changes to be sustainable?

What are the conditions for transformations to be effective and sustainable? Looking at the basics and basis of all its endeavours, we set up the programme “The Foundations of Value and Values” to explore the idea and concept of value-driven transformation.

This topic becomes ever more relevant in the current situation, where the world experiences the spread of Covid-19 as a powerful force for changing behaviour. While there is no question that the immediate socio-economic and personal impacts of Covid-19 are profound, there are also opportunities for change beyond the end of the pandemic: What behavioural and systemic adjustments might endure? More importantly: What are necessary conditions for these changes to be sustainable?

We approach these questions by looking at values as taking a central role in shaping behaviour and driving social change. Where does value come from in current society? How do new values emerge? And what does it mean to initiate the transformation of society by changing value-sets? Are there universal values grounded in the human condition? Or are values thoroughly path-dependent?

We address these old questions of humanity in search for new insights. We aim to break up research silos by stimulating both dialogue and debate between different disciplines and schools of thought. Ultimately, we strive to pave the way for identifying a well-articulated value-system able to withstand and address the challenges of the 21st Century.



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