School of Public Affairs & Governance
The Silliman University School of Public Affairs and Governance believes in governance that looks into the heart rather than at the appearance of things or phenomena (1 Sam 16:7). The school maintains that no facts exist except those that are disclosed in the interpretation of what is already understood (Salazar, 2001). As Salazar aptly puts it, “We can have a million facts in our heads and still remain uneducated.”
For the SU-SPAG, the goal of real education is to enable students to stand in the truth that manifests in our existence, not just accumulate mere facts through a predefined theory for practical considerations. Facts do not give us true knowledge, since true knowledge can only spring from a system of knowing wherein one is able to learn. The sense of this education, which is fundamental in our search for truth and which one can learn in SPAG, is ensconced in the words of Martin Heidegger (1987):
But to know means: to be able to stand in the truth. Truth is the manifestness of the essence (i.e., existence). To know is accordingly to stand in the manifestness of the essence, to endure it. Merely to have information, however abundant, is not to know. Even if curricula and examination requirements concentrate this information into what is of the greatest practical importance, it still does not amount to knowledge. XXX The man who possesses such information and learned a few practical tricks, will still be perplexed in the presence of reality, which is always different from what the Philistine means by down-to-earth; he will always be a bungler. Why? Because he has no knowledge, for to know means to be able to learn.
Heidegger’s thought process exposes the obsolescence of the calculative academics whose thought processes have matured in the existing performance measurement approaches that rely primarily on financial accounting measures which, according to Kaplan and Morton (1996), are “becoming obsolete.” In the Philippine setting, the same thinking process paves the “ground of thoughtlessness” in NEDA’s penchant for constructing arbitrary macroeconomic and financial performance indicators which have led Philippine governance to nowhere but backwardness.
As an agent of change in governance, the SPAG has redirected its learning thought processes to a transcendental mode of understanding reality for strategic decision-making in governance. In this approach to knowing, SPAG’S calculative learning mechanisms are grounded on meditative learning, which enables students to stand in the self-showing of what is there to learn from reality. This self-showing of reality nourishes the calculative thinking of the students to develop key result areas for strategic action in governance. Following the logic of transcendental knowing and strategic decision making, the school expects to develop a new set of graduates who can overcome over-reliance on the financial accounting measures that are used in existing governance. These performance measures only encourage the development of what Heidegger calls “flight-from thinking” that grounds the prevailing thoughtlessness (Heidegger, 1967). Thus, SPAG’s calculative thinking in terms of established balanced governance KRA (Key Result Areas) measurement approach to learning for good governance is a meditative thinking articulation that will give its students “a system to communicate and to align good governance to new strategies (see also KPMG-NN Institute, 1990).
- M-Public Administration