“Much of my scholarly work over the past decade has centered around the concept of social capital, and I have recently been encouraged by some strategies for developing the critically needed social capital in Romania. First, a word about social capital.
Social capital is the informal norms that promote cooperation between two or more individuals, and is the source of virtues like honesty, reciprocity, and trustworthy behavior. It is the presence of these values that creates a safe space for trust, cooperation, and self-organization to solve collective action problems. Societies that trust perform better on all levels, both politically and economically. Social capital (the shared values of honesty and reciprocity) is important as it is a precondition for civil society, which is so important in post-communist cultures.
The Bates have developed strategic approaches to redeveloping social capital in Romania. They are doing this by pioneering two experiential educational disciplines - Adventure Education and Service Learning - which are proven methodologies for building interpersonal trust and helping people internalize the values that facilitate cooperation for mutual benefit. They have taken thousands of youth through their state-of-the-art adventure program, VIAŢA, and also have an exciting adventure and service learning club called IMPACT that is approved by the public schools. Part of their strategy also involves the development and translation of a moral/character development curriculum.”