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Overview of the Common Canon

Summary of the Project

The Common Canon is a project sponsored and organized by The Center for Human Conscience to create a publicly accessible compilation of the greatest of human knowledge, cultural and creative works, and historical figures. Its scope is intended to be global and universal, but highly selective in its contents, so that the average person could gain a basic familiarity with the entire Canon over a period of a few years of study.

Purposes and Goals

The Common Canon is intended to form the basis for an intelligent and broad-minded global culture that will be beneficial for the advancement of world civilization. Specific purposes identified in the Charter of the Common Canon include:

  • To protect and improve democracy through widespread education.
  • To overcome prejudice and short-sightedness among the people of the world.
  • To foster a global consciousness and awareness of the oneness of humanity.
  • To encourage mutual understanding and peace.
  • To provide an alternative to cultural imperialism for the globalization of human culture.

The Common Canon will be used to create curricula and learning materials for students of all ages.[1]

It will be periodically revised so that it will remain current.[2]

The Charter of the Center for Human Conscience also specifies that study of the Common Canon and familiarity with its contents will be used as criteria for membership in that organization.[3]

Process of Development

The Common Canon is a crowdsourced, coauthored compilation of articles and resources. The main types of contents of the Common Canon are specified in its Charter, but the specific facts, historical figures and works to include will be decided by the Canon's editors. The editors will also write and revise any original articles that will be included in the Canon.

The Common Canon will be developed in three stages:

  • (1) Creation of the Provisional Common Canon.
  • (2) Revision of the Provisional version of the Canon by a select group of editors to create the official English version of the Common Canon.
  • (3) Translation of the official English version of the Canon into several other major world languages.

Stage 1 began in May 2011 and will likely last a year or two.

(1) Creating the Provisional Common Canon

Anyone in the world who speaks English may apply to become an editor of the Provisional Common Canon.

Editors may make changes to articles in the Provisional Canon, just like editing Wikipedia. The editing process will be supervised by administrators from the Center for Human Conscience.

(2) Creating the Official Common Canon

After the Provisional Common Canon is reasonably well developed, the next stage of the Common Canon project will commence.

The Council of Wisdom

The official Common Canon will be created by a carefully chosen body of 60 editors, who will use the Provisional Common Canon as a basis for creating the revised version. This special editorial council, called the Council of Wisdom, will be selected from a wide diversity of nationalities, ethnicities, religions, cultural backgrounds, and career fields. It will serve as "a global microcosm of well-informed, visionary people."[4]

The Board of Directors of the Center for Human Conscience will appoint the members of this Council of Wisdom. This Council is provisional, not exactly the same version of the institution that will ultimately be elected by a global parliamentary assembly according to the Charter of the Center for Human Conscience.[5]

Correcting Biases

The Provisional Common Canon may be biased according to a particular nationality or culture, because most of the editors are likely to come from an Anglo-American background. Such biases will be rectified by the Council of Wisdom as part of the process of creating the official version of the Common Canon.

Improving Underdeveloped Sections

Certain sections of the Provisional Common Canon may not be as well developed as others, because the knowledge and career experience of the editors may not be equally balanced among all fields. Such imbalances will be rectified by the Council of Wisdom as part of the process of creating the official version of the Common Canon.

(3) Translating the Common Canon

The official English version of the Common Canon, once created, will be translated into several other major world languages, including (but probably not limited to):

  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Spanish
  • Hindi
  • Arabic
  • French

Charter of the Common Canon

The Charter of the Center for Human Conscience, Article 4:

Whereas an educated and informed citizenry is essential to a well-functioning democracy; and whereas familiarity with the greatest achievements in every field and the best contributions of every culture to humanity is an antidote to prejudice and short-sightedness and the foundation of broad-mindedness, holistic thinking, mutual understanding and peace; and in order that the people of the world may come to feel a closer kinship through the common reference points they might share, not through the effects of cultural imperialism but by the organic emergence of a global consciousness deriving from the discoveries and creations acclaimed freely by people everywhere, that the Earth might be perceived as but one home for all, undivided; let there be a Common Canon of what all well-informed people should know, including facts, theories, belief systems, creative works, and historical figures.
Let the Common Canon include lists of basic knowledge of geography, history, the sciences, the great world religions, the arts and humanities, and anything else regarded as fundamental to the mind of a person fit for participation in the discourse of an advanced global society; cultural works, such as literature, art, music, and film, to be remembered and recommended as the finest or most significant masterpieces of creative genius of humanity for all time; and historical people identified as worthy of remembrance and celebration, with a day of the year suggested for the commemoration of each.
Let the Common Canon be compiled and disseminated by the Center for Human Conscience; and let it be periodically revised, that it may ever remain current as knowledge grows, opinions change, people work and create, die and are born.

Contents of the Common Canon

This outline of contents is provisional, but the final outline will probably be similar to this one.

Each bullet point in the sections below represents a single article in the Canon. Some of the articles will likely be much longer than others. The links point to the version of the articles currently being developed in the Provisional Common Canon.

Basic Knowledge








Earth Sciences

Astronomy and Cosmology


Social Sciences

Applied Sciences


Overview and Compilation

Pagan Religions

Semitic or Abrahamic Religions

Religions of Indic Origin

Religions of Chinese Origin

Religions of Persian Origin

Religions of American Origin


Arts and Humanities

The works themselves (i.e. full text, images, audio and video) are included in the Cultural and Creative Works section.

Proclamations and Decisions of Peoples

Celebrated Historical Figures

Sorted by Field of Achievement

Sorted by Day of Commemoration

Each article will have subsections for each day of the month.

Sorted Chronologically

List of persons.

Sorted Alphabetically

List of persons.

Cultural and Creative Works

These are the same works listed and described in the Arts and Humanities section of Basic Knowledge.


Full texts translated into a set of languages.




Audio files.


Video files.

Record of Revisions

Sorted Chronologically

Sorted by Section Revised

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