Educating for worldmindedness: The theories of Harry Stack Sullivan, Ruth Benedict, and Brock Chisholm, 1945--1950

Date of Completion

January 1995


Anthropology, Cultural|Education, Sociology of|Sociology, Theory and Methods|Psychology, Personality




The postwar writings of psychiatrists Harry Stack Sullivan, Brock Chisholm, and anthropologist Ruth Benedict are examined in this inquiry. Relevant publications by secondary authors Gordon Allport, Kurt Lewin and John Rickman are compared with those of the primary authors concerning the themes of worldmindedness, ethnic prejudice, and aggressive nationalism. This study focuses on the immediate post-World-War-Two era, (1945-1950) when a concern for social and educational reforms characterized many social science efforts.^ Published and unpublished writings of the primary authors and related UNESCO proceedings are analyzed and interpreted. Contributions of the primary and secondary authors to the UNESCO "Tensions That Cause Wars" and "Toward World Understanding" conferences are specifically examined as are relevant contributions from the International Preparatory Commission. The latter, which occurred nearly contemporaneously with these 1948 UNESCO conferences, laid the foundation for the World Federation for Mental Health. The methodology of hermeneutics is employed to examine the themes of education for worldmindedness (now more commonly known as "global education"). Potential applications of their worldmindedness perspectives are identified.^ This study makes several contributions to the literature on global education. First, its analysis of two successful international interdisciplinary conferences concerning worldmindedness and tensions that cause wars provides recommendations for similar future endeavors. Second, conceptual commonalities among these authors have deepened the understanding and interpretation of psychological and educational factors that can encourage or diminish the development of worldmindedness. Third, examination of the perspectives of these authors provides practical contributions for the theory and practice of counseling psychology generally and cross-cultural counseling specifically. ^