For the Arvisom Institute Website

by Marvin C. Sterling, PhD

1. Why are the goals of the Arvisom Institute important to the collective success of humanity?
RESPONSE: The single most important challenge facing humanity today is this: How can we inculcate within all populations of the earth a heightened sense of the significance of human diversity. That is, instilling within the "mass consciousness" of all nations on the planet an enhanced appreciation for the cultural-racial diversity characterizing the world at large. To corroborate this claim, one needs only to call attention to the current reality pertaining to our planet, i.e., the reality of the "global village." At the Arvisom Institute, pedagogical content and methodology have been brought into conformity with this new reality. In other words, the current challenge for globally-minded educators is that of finding ways through which to promote simultaneously BOTH the patriotic ideal of love-of-country, and the cosmopolitan ideal of "world-citizenship." For, in order to be genuinely successful on the contemporary scene -- whether in the sphere of business or in other fields of human endeavor -- people need to think in more "universalist," and less provincially. There is an obvious connection between the above-mentioned ideals and the goals of the Arvisom Institute, and this, I submit, is the main reason why the goals of the Arvisom Institute are so vitally important to collective success of humanity today.

2. What is the role of general education in the overall mission of the Arvisom Institute?
RESPONSE: In order to give a succinct statement concerning the role of general education in the overall mission of the Arvisom Institute, something that is implied by the above statement needs to be emphasized, namely the basic "philosophy of life" that informs and guides the Institute's activities. This basic philosophy of life embodies a comprehensive worldview, and provides the metaphysical underpinnings for our institutional convictions concerning the centrality of teaching to all spheres of human experience. Philosophers throughout history have applied a variety of names to this "thought-system," this overall "view of reality" (e.g., panpsychism, metaphysical idealism, monadological pluralism). However, let's use the simple designation "Personalism," which captures the essential idea very effectively.
     Personalism is a form of metaphysical idealism, and is perhaps best known through the references made to it by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., particularly in his book, Stride toward Freedom. At the core of this philosophy is the idea that "ultimate reality" is, strictly speaking, spiritual in nature. Since Personalism sees the universe as essentially Spirit, it regards human personality as the locus of supreme value, and as endowed with inexhaustible potential.
     AccordinglyConsequently, a Personalist sees human beings as having a "nature-determined" destiny, a "built-in" purpose, founded upon the very essence of what we are as spiritual beings. Moreover, this ontologically-based purpose of life can best be described as a never-ending process of actualizing the latent potentialities of the human Spirit. This basic "Personalist" philosophy involves a strong belief in the boundless potential and educability of all persons. All persons -- simply by virtue of being persons -- are endowed with inherent worth and dignity.
     AccordinglyNow, the role of general education at the Arvisom Institute is to facilitate the above-mentioned process of "actualizing the latent potentialities of the human Spirit." Moreover, this role of promoting inner development does not at all contradict the great stress that the Arvisom Institute lays on worldly prosperity, that is, on success in a "material" sense. Cultivation of the inner life of the mind is intimately bound up with corresponding developments (or, manifestations) on the physical plane.

3. What – at the most basic level – is the role of the Arvisom Institute, as a "Web education" center for the emerging "global village"?
RESPONSE: In answering this question, it is important to mention again the "Personalist" root-assumptionse Arvisom Institute. We are philosophically committed to the idea that human life has a purpose, and that this purpose is ontologically-grounded. More specifically, we believe that this purpose is inner development.This inner development can be described briefly as a never-ending process of actualizing dormant human potential. The Arvisom Institute -- like other institutions of "higher learning" -- provides the means through which individual human beings can successfully pursue this all-highest goal of human existence. Briefly, the role of a the Arvisom Institute is to enhance the quality of life of the world-community at large, through enriching the inner life of its individual members.
     AccordinglyOver and above these rather abstract philosophical observations, I would stress one additional point. The Arvisom Institute has a uniquely significant role to play in the widening of access to "higher" education. Getting a "college education" can be prohibitively expensive, and educational resources offered by the Arvisom Institute -- by comparison with traditional colleges and universities -- are extremely affordable. Thus, the Arvisom Institute has a vital role to play as a vehicle for the expansion of educational access to larger segments of the world community.

4. MATC has a diverse student population. Describe your experiences working with diverse populations and how those experiences would enhance your teaching at MATC.
RESPONSE: For nearly fourteen years, I was a professor and administrator at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C. Approximately nine years of my tenure at this institution were served as Chairperson of the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences. At UDC, I taught a wide range of interdisciplinary courses, many of which focused on Spanish literature and philosophic thought. I have a strong interest in the writings of Miguel de Unamuno, the Spanish Mystics, the synergistic fusion of Spanish and African cultural developments. An example of the latter is my interest in the Garifuna dialect and culture among the black speakers of Spanish in Honduras. More generally, I have a passion for all Spanish literature that highlights the spiritual / esoteric dimensions of human experience. I have also taught courses such as Logic, Critical Thinking, and Epistemology. I am highly proficient in both spoken and written Spanish.
     AccordinglyFurthermore -- due to its location in the nation’s capital -- my former employer, UDC, consistently attracted large numbers of international students. This fact not only afforded me an opportunity to gain significant cultural insights, through my interaction with many different nationalities, it was also a factor contributing to the internationalist focus of UDC’s curriculum in general. That is, course offerings at UDC overall were such that I had a plethora of opportunities to address “academic diversity” issues in my own lectures, and to supervise other faculty members addressing such issues.
     AccordinglyBriefly, I not only have gained valuable experience working with groups and individuals from various diverse backgrounds, I have also acquired an abundance of relevant knowledge and competencies. I also derive great satisfaction from the prospect of keeping abreast of ongoing developments and innovations vis-ŕ-vis the study of foreign languages and multicultural education (e.g., newly emerging instructional materials, textbooks, pedagogical techniques, technological resources, etc.). This wealth of "diversity" experience characterizing my background will surely be among the factors that enhance my teaching at MATC.