Albert Schweitzer explored his ethical philosophy of reverence for life in numerous books, lectures and essays, but above all he conceived it as a practical philosophy. Our branches in the US & UK conduct initiatives that link education, ethics and voluntarism. Programs focus on lobbying against human rights abuses; motivating young people to serve the community, nature and the environment as a way of life; and increasing awareness of Dr Schweitzer's philosophy of reverence for life and its potential for a more peaceful and sustainable world.
For example, we are currently developing a research project that explores the relationship between public health and literacy in India. Pro-market policies for developing countries have long been based on the belief that increasing average income is key to improving public health and societal well-being. But new research on India published in the journal Social Science and Medicine shows that literacy - a non-income good - has a greater impact on public health in India.
While we accept it is broadly true that “wealthier is healthier” across the roughly 500 districts in India’s major states, accounting for 95% of the total population, we are exploring the idea that poverty and, crucially, illiteracy are much stronger predictors of poor public health than low average income.
And the Schweitzer Institute UK is also working with the Campaign to Protect Afghanistan’s Musicians (ICFAM), a network of volunteers (academics, musicians, music educators and human rights professionals) who have been assisting Afghanistan’s musicians after the violent ban on music-making in the country following the Taliban’s take over in August 2021. We believe that “music is food for the soul” and that, in accordance with Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all musicians and listeners of Afghanistan should be free to draw upon this precious spiritual and cultural resource without fear.
The initiative is co-ordinated by Dr Katherine Schofield, Senior Lecturer in South Asian Music and History, King’s College London, and Dr Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey, Director of Performance, St Catherine’s College, Oxford & Leverhulme ECF, University of Sheffield