The Cosmodern Paradigm: Learning to Co-Evolve Harmonically with Nature

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly held in New York achieved the commitment of 193 Member States to stop environmental degradation with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for the year 2030. In short, SDGs recognize the socio-ecological problems that characterize the current global civilization beyond their national borders. Hence the need to transgress the current paradigm with the new approach that Big History gives us, because it represents an epistemic tool that conceived the interrelationships of the human condition in its cosmic and earthly context. Big History is a new discipline that includes, unifies, and integrates the history of the universe, the solar system, Earth and human being history. This is a new transdisciplinary organization of knowledge that allows us to include human cultural systems and natural ecosystems within a co-evolutionary historical process.

A new sustainable paradigm emerges from all those ecological principles recognized in co-evolutionary patterns. I argue that Big History constitutes the requisite ground for a new biomimetic era in the Anthropocene, which I call ‘Cosmodernity.’ SDGs have an important role in Big History because the human race has had a profound impact on the climate and environment of the Earth. They represent our last opportunity to avoid ecological extinction and a point-of-no-return in the new geological era we have entered—the Anthropocene. This period is characterized for the great human footprint on Earth, causing a huge extinction and dramatic environmental degradation. Reflecting on challenges concerning the SDGs carries many questions and approaches. Therefore, I propose to review the concept of sustainable development through transdisciplinary study of co-evolutionary processes that life has developed since their appearance on Earth some 3.8 billion years ago.

In this sense, all theoretical models that reduce sustainable development to only three dimensions (economic, social, and ecological) are failing to address the inherent complexity of the interdependent network of systems that are interconnected at various levels of ontological reality. That is why we need a new paradigm that combines science, culture, arts, and spirituality. In the paradigm of Cosmodernity, scientific knowledge of an external physical universe converges with the spiritual knowledge of an inner emotional universe.

Transdisciplinary education experiences for sustainability include the spiritual dimension as a core for creating relevant knowledge within our societies, at local and global levels. This convergence allows us to deal SDG challenges with a holistic and multidimensional approach. According to neuroscience, our emotions are responsible for our value systems. Therefore, we must promote emotional, spiritual, and ecological literacy to achieve the SDGs.

In this context, it is necessary to develop ‘feeling-thinking-acting’ processes to educate global citizens. Education is an essential key to achieve a sustainable development in Gaia: being the seed that we must cultivate for our present and future flowering. For this reason, we must face the paradigmatic crossroads of climate change from an ‘ecology of knowledge’ to develop and improve all human dimensions through a transdisciplinary organization of knowledge that combines scientific reason with other epistemic, spiritual, religious, emotional, political, rhetorical, poetic, artistic, and philosophical aspects. When this multi-referential and transdisciplinary perspective is adopted, education becomes an epistemic tool that searches individual development of people within a vast network of relationships with other human beings, as well as with nature and the cosmos.

This is the epistemic point of departure to create a holistic and transdimensional education to strengthen ties with sustainability to achieve the SDGs in 2030. The potential development of global citizenship represents the genesis of a cultural metamorphosis that reinvents our relationship with the sacred: moving from the exploitation of nature to create new biomimetic models to learn from it in order to achieve a lasting sustainable development. Biomimicry perspective means recognizing organic patterns and natural connections, understanding the causes and effects of competing and interrelated components, and then making appropriate modifications to solve problems of socio-ecological unsustainability.

In conclusion, the paradigm of Cosmodernity seeks to organize transdisciplinary knowledge to understand that our species evolution is intrinsically interlinked with constant co-evolution processes that different life forms are developing on our planet Earth from billions years ago. It is a multidimensional coevolution that unfolds through inter-retro-actions between different levels of cosmic, planetary, regional, national, and local reality, where an extensive network of universal interdependence is established with ecological, biophysics, social, political, cultural, economic, and technological phenomena. Hence, the uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources for the manufacture of industrial products has become an issue of great concern in the Post-2015 development agenda.

Let´s look to Big History how learning to co-evolve harmonically as cosmodern civilization. Are you ready? I invite all readers to explore and discuss more ideas concerning these topics.