Lack of appreciation of cultural objects and affairs may result from a puritan or populist ethic, from a scientific or technologically orientated education, from materialistic values and commercialism, or from the gradual stifling of indigenous or ethnic cultural heritage through forced assimilation and standardization. Fine arts may not be appreciated due to lack of understanding or anti-intellectualism and class conflict. In developing countries, educational methods may be imported that attach little value to, or do not recognize, local cultural achievements, so that while literacy may be taught, for example, local literature is not used as illustrative material. Lack of cultural appreciation implies the loss of cultural heritage, perhaps involving ethnic disintegration and an unfulfilled need for the aesthetic and spiritual. Lack of cultural appreciation contributes to a loss of identity, disorientation and possibly social breakdown. It leads to a decline in fine arts and letters.
Culture is a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world; and through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits (Matthew Arnold).
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.