Eugene Haggerty was born in 1931 in Sayre, Pennsylvania. He studied cultural geography at the University of California, Berkeley (B.A., cum laude), and political and linguistic geography and cultural anthropology (graduate studies at UCLA).
Eugene and his wife, educator Pauline Elizabeth Allen, founded Gateway Montessori Schools in 1964 (the first Montessori school in the San Francisco Bay Area) and developed a Montessori Head Start Program.
In 1967, Eugene met with Robert Hutchins, founder of The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, to pursue an inquiry into the ways that our human lives become confounded with our institutional identities at the cost of our humanity, and the resulting damage we do to ourselves and Earth. This led to significant further communications with journalists Norman Cousins and Walter Cronkite, economist Milton Friedman, futurist Willis Harman, psychologist Carl Rogers, scientist Jonas Salk, and many other distinguished national and global thinkers.
In 1968, Eugene developed an Educational Validities course at San Francisco State University in which leading educators appeared as guest speakers, sharing many valuable insights in this ongoing inquiry into the actual practice of education. These fruitful exchanges led to his founding of the World Public Forum in 1973, where he began an inquiry into the deeper meaning and import of the sovereign terms public and human. World Public Forum has shifted and expanded the scope of its work to action-focused inquiry that promotes a truly public-spirited, human-focused world, as distinct from a world driven and shaped solely by the priorities and requirements of its myriad, rightly cherished differences and institutions.
His essay “Publism” (1976) evolved into Gene’s envisioning a human-focused world that could provide a basis for sharing our common interests and priorities (rather than identifying—and diminishing—ourselves solely on the basis of our differences). In 1987, he coauthored the Declaration of Human Unity. This declaration has been affirmed and endorsed by an unprecedented cross-section of key American and worldwide thinkers and leaders from educational, scientific, religious, business, political, entertainment, and media communities. Among hundreds of distinguished signers are journalist Walter Cronkite, peace Nobelists including Oscar Arias Sánchez, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, astrophysicist and democracy advocate Fang Lizhi, and United Nations former secretary general Javier Pérez de Cuéllar. The Declaration and its offshoots are gathering a cross-section of support for the Human Unity Project in every level of society and every part of the globe.
The World Public Forum was instrumental in organizing a daylong Global Human Unity Meeting, which was held in San Francisco on February 19, 2000, proclaimed as HUMAN UNITY DAY by Mayor Willie L. Brown, and included as its participants and supporters two dozen pioneers of human-focused leadership from throughout the world. It helped lay the foundation for the inclusion and recognition of our identity as humans and laid out a range of practical activities and areas of coordination, much of which is now integrated in the WPF agenda.
Through the ongoing and expanding activities of World Public Forum and its Human Unity Project, universal human agreement, conversation and inquiry—grounded in the empirical actuality that we are all humans—have initiated their entry onto the stage of human affairs. The project is generating and launching these, among a bevy of unprecedented applications, for ensuring the survival, security, wholeness and consummate goodness of all of our lives and habitats on Earth.
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