Humour and International Challenges

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Project date: 1998

Full title: Humour and International Challenges: Augmenting Problem and Strategy Comprehension through Psycho-cultural Catalysts

This project proposal was related to the UIA's work on the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential.

The UIA considered offering users a fresh way of exploring problem and strategy profiles on the Web, namely through relevant humour. Using UIA's existing and highly hyperlinked information, it was planned to build a humour database that would link from and to particular problems and strategies, possibly extended to human value profiles and to profiles of approaches to human development.

Users of the problem and strategy information would then have the option of exploring it through jokes, humour being seen as a vital supportive aspect of the learning process. Humour would help to reframe some problems creatively -- especially for those who have been over-exposed to them.

The UIA would have sought working partnerships with bodies that would find this somewhat unusual approach to be relevant. Examples of such bodies include: Association for the Promotion of Humour in International Affairs, International Society for Humor Studies, International Centre for Humor and Health, the International Society for Luso-Hispanic Humor Studies, and the World Assembly of Technical and Creative Humorists, as well as equivalent national bodies such as the American Humor Studies Association. Also relevant to this project were insights from bodies such as the American Association for Therapeutic Humor.

This initiative would also have sought to take advantage of the considerable investment in humour by particular cultural and ethnic groups. An example of this is the Nasruddin learning stories widely disseminated by Sufis in the Middle East and the Islamic world. In this case, an appropriate partner in establishing links to specific humour might be the Institute for Cultural Research. Analogous humour from other cultures would also have been sought.

The work was to focus mainly on identifying humour which provided insight into problems or strategies, as do the Nasruddin learning stories. Where such humour was available on the Web, a direct link would have been made to them from the relevant problem or strategy.