Symposium on Meaning, Values and Spirituality in the Development of Children and Young People
The Centre for Social Pediatrics, Cantonal Hospital of Winterthur, Switzerland, in collaboration with the Club of Rome, organized a scientific Symposium on Meaning, Values and Spirituality in the Development of Children and Young People on 5-6 December 2013. The Centre, as part of of its daily work with children, young people and parents, as well as in discourse with experts, frequently focuses on the question of values and ideals, and how these are communicated. What are the reference points for adolescents? What are their wishes and aspirations? Who are their role models; what are their guiding principles? In childhood, it is usually the parents that communicate purpose and values. But when dealing with the challenges of our globalized world, adults also sometimes experience insecurity, asking “What it’s all about?” – material independence, happiness, love, faith, knowledge…? Can faith – a spiritual foundation – help children, young people and adults find fulfilment and contentment?
The symposium was of particular interest because it provided a scientific perspective on many of the issues being addressed by the International Environment Forum, although the focus of most speakers was Europe rather than the whole world. The multidisciplinary perspectives from sociologists, psychiatrists, theologians, educators, and even a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, highlighted some key issues about religion and spirituality in the modern world and the challenges ahead. The decline of interest in the environment among young people noted by some speakers is of particular concern. The following paragraphs provide a synthesis of the main points. A full report and list of speakers is at http://iefworld.org/node/656.