Cult-ED: Cultural education for the future world citizen

The Jimmy Nelson Foundation launches Cult-ED, a unique free education program. Cult-ED inspires and teaches children on how to become respectful citizens of the world.

This month the Jimmy Nelson Foundation is proud to announce that it is launching a unique educational program. Cult-ED is a free curriculum whose purpose is to inspire and educate pupils throughout the globe about the world’s last indigenous cultures and their wisdom. The lessons are inspired by the work of the artist Jimmy Nelson, who has spent his whole professional life visiting indigenous cultures. His unique and timely insights now form Cult-ED's mission to teach children how to become citizens of the world. In doing so, they will come into contact with the wealth of their human  and natural heritage.

Our world is changing rapidly. Our ever-growing population and drive for progress have led to developments such as globalization, a consumer culture, global warming and today's pandemic. Technological progress makes it seem as if we are facing the future faster than ever before, but it is becoming clearer every day that we are damaging the planet.  In many ways, we can learn from the norms and values of indigenous peoples in regards to their relation with the natural world.  They possess fundamental knowledge about dealing with natural resources and living in harmony with the environment. Their centuries-old connection with their natural heritage serves as an important protector of the precious environment.  Therefore, it is the mission of the Jimmy Nelson Foundation to safeguard and celebrate cultural diversity and -through the education program Cult-ED- let our children be inspired by and learn from indigenous wisdom and knowledge. 

 "This has always been my ultimate dream. To share my love and passion for the world with the purest and open minds that will follow in my footsteps."

Artist Jimmy Nelson

We would like to celebrate with you that as of today, the first lessons of Cult-ED are available on our website! Cult-ED is a free educational program that focuses on culture and world citizenship. The program is for children from 11 to 15 years old. The worksheets can be downloaded on the Jimmy Nelson Foundation website in English and Dutch. Because the program is user-friendly, children can take part in the lessons independently at home or in class.  Once you have registered on the website for free you will get full access to all lessons and we will keep you up to date when new lessons are released on the website.

With Cult-ED, children can travel digitally to faraway places, from Siberia and Bhutan to Peru and French Polynesia, to learn about unique cultures and traditions. The very first series of the lessons focuses on Mongolia! Each program focuses on one community and contains four lessons with the themes location, people, lifestyle and tradition.  A part of the questions are focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, challenging children to think differently about themes such as capitalism, homogeneity and climate change. The dominant culture often lacks answers to complex questions on how we can bring our planet healthily into the future. The communities the children visit during these classes will encourage them to think outside of their comfort zone and come up with innovative solutions for the future. 

At a time when we need to focus on securing the future of our planet, education about other cultures is crucial, yet scarce. The youth is our future and it is very important to teach children acceptance and respect for the planet and all the people that inhabit it. Cultivating global and mutual respect begins at an early age and therefore the ultimate goal of the Jimmy Nelson Foundation is to teach Cult-ED in schools around the world.  This way, a real difference can be made.

Besides Cult-ED, this month the Jimmy Nelson Foundation launched together with SyncVR Medical The Magic Mattress, a VR experience for children in Dutch hospitals. Thousands of children are in hospital every day and can't play outside, go to school or explore the wide world. To distract the children from their hospital worries, The Magic Mattress allows them to travel and learn about the world from their hospital bed.

"With The Magic Mattress, we can provide a brief yet positive escape from the arduous and sometimes traumatic process of recovery in the hospital. This way, the children can enjoy the splendor of the world from their beds.”

Artist Jimmy Nelson

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About Jimmy Nelson

Jimmy Nelson (UK, 1967) started working as a photographer in 1987. Having spent ten years at a Jesuit boarding school in the North of England, he set off on his own to traverse the length of Tibet on foot (1985). The journey lasted two years and upon his return his visual diary, featuring revealing images of a previously inaccessible Tibet, was published.

Soon after (1987) he was commissioned to cover a variety of culturally newsworthy themes for many of the world-leading publications ranging from the Russian involvement in Afghanistan and the ongoing strife between India and Pakistan in Kashmir to the beginning of the war in former Yugoslavia.

In early 1994 he and his Dutch ex-wife Ashkaine Hora Adema produced Literary Portraits of China. A coffee-table book about all indigenous cultures in China and their translated literature. From 1997 onwards, Jimmy undertook commercial advertising assignments for many of the world’s leading brands. Meanwhile, he spent his whole life accumulating images of indigenous cultures.

In 2010 he began his journey to create the artistic document that became Before They Pass Away, which was published in October 2013. Its success and the responses to it have enabled and encouraged Jimmy to continue this journey. In October 2018, Nelson published the first interactive book Homage to Humanity, for which he visited another unique 34 indigenous cultures around the globe. The book is accompanied by the 2019 Webby Award-winning mobile application that makes it possible to scan every image in the book and bring them to life with exclusive films, interviews and 360 ̊ film material. This allows people to see the making of the work and to understand the process behind it.

Today Jimmy is using an 8x10 analogue plate camera to bring the project to its next level. Jimmy strongly believes that if you change the way you look at people, the people you look at change. And if that change is powerful enough, it will gather momentum to affect the whole of humanity. A message that today he is promoting through talks at international conferences and museum exhibitions. With the proceedings of his art projects, the Jimmy Nelson Foundation was set up to take it a step further in supporting the communities on the ground.