Magazine article UNESCO Courier

The Application of Science and Art

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

The Application of Science and Art

Article excerpt

UNESCO cannot be highbrow and confine itself solely to "pure" science, and "fine" art. It cannot do so, because it must concern itself with the whole of humanity, not only with the specialists, the highly educated elite, or the privileged few, and is expressly charged with advancing the ideals of equality of educatinal opportunity; and this is not possible if Unesco's concern with science and art is confined to the encouragement of the scientist and the artist and to the learned study of their achievements. It cannot do so for another reason--because its Constitution lays upon it the duty of advancing the common welfare of mankind. For the advancement of human welfare depends in the main upon the right application of science--physical, biological, psychological and social--and also, in the sphere of emotional and spiritual satisfactions, upon the application of the arts.

Unesco must therefore concern itself with the widest extension and the fullest application both of the sciences and of the arts. It has, of course, neither the right nor the wish to deal with the detailed problems of nutrition and agriculture, medicine and health, to however great an extent they depend on the applications of science, since, to cope with them, other Agencies of the United Nations have been created. With the scientific bases of these questions, however, it must concern itself and must therefore establish a proper liaison, with clear delimitation of functions, between itself and the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations] and the World Health Organization. The same holds for those applications of the sciences which, because of their importance for labour welfare, fall to be dealt with by the ILO [International Labour Organisation], and of those which, because of their military importance, fall within the province of the Atomic Energy Commission of the Security Council.

Further, it is clear that practical problems of economics and of social structure and welfare, in so far as they are to be dealth with by an international body, must be the concern of the Economic and Social Council; while certain sectors of social anthropology, such as culture-contact between more and less advanced cultures (which include problems not only of applied science but also of art and literature and of education), will be the primary concern of the Trusteeship Council and of the section of the Economic and Social Council dealing with non-self-governing peoples.

This overlap, however, far from debarring Unesco from concerning itself with the applications of the sciences and the arts in general, makes it all the more imperative that it should do so, and should do so in a particular way. These other Agencies and organs of the United Nations which we have mentioned are concerned with particular fields or problems some larger, some more specialized. Unesco alone is charge with the comprehensive task of studying and promoting all the higher activities of man and their applications, and of doing so in a co-ordinated way, subject to a definite set of purposes.

What Unesco can do in this vast sphere of the practical application of creative knowledge and art is, accordingly, to study the problems in correlation, to endeavour to promote the best methods of translating theory into practice, and to give guidance as to right application. …

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