The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has called for a A New Humanism for the 21st Century. This text calls for a humanism that sees the importance of communication, culture and community to building a better societies. She quotes Pico della Mirandola (Italian Renaissance Humanist) to the effect that we are shapers of our own being and she gives Leonardo da Vinci as an example of such broad humanism.
A new humanism must guide us also in supporting development of the poorest countries. Education, communication, culture and the sciences are closely-linked disciplines that propose together a global, sustainable response to the challenges faced by humanity.
For Bokova the self-fashioning is done in community and for community. Humanism should be not only theoretical, but practical. It should explore values and implement programmes. It should cross boundaries including those between the humanities and sciences.
Being a humanist today means building bridges between North, South, East and West and strengthening the human community to take up our challenges together. It means guaranteeing access to quality education for all so that everyone may make their voice heard in the universal dialogue. It means encouraging scientific cooperation networks, establishing research centres, and disseminating information technology to accelerate the sharing of ideas. It means using culture, in all of its diversity of expression, as a tool for rapprochement and for crafting a shared vision.
Bokova reminds us that the values of humanism like dialogue, culture, and education are vital to sustainable societies.