The Social Development Department is the animating arm of the Asian Social Institute where transformative ideas and innovative approaches are tried out in actual practice and community extension services are carried out in partnership with self-empowered people’s organizations, parishes, local government units, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. It also facilitates the integration and field learning of students and other groups in various communities in order to develop mutual understanding, existential learning and greater appreciation of community life and people’s initiatives.
Recently, ASI engaged in partnership with Maximo T. Kalaw Institute for Sustainable Development (MTKISD), and other organizations to co-create a sustainable future through the ”Ecosystem-based Community Centered Sustainable Bioregional Community Organization and Management (ECSOM)” Program. This was later articulated by ASI as “Co-creating Sustainable Bioregional Communities (CSBCom)” Program. This is a paradigm shift in theoretical orientation and praxis that re-orients various disciplines as well as the practice of social development to focus on the wholeness of life and all life forms. In the ECSOM synthesis, the ASI President, Dr. Mina M. Ramirez, summarized the program as follows: “All stakeholders of the bio-regional community – upland and lowland farmers, fisher folk, indigenous groups, business, education, health, church and socially-enlightened local officials – will engage themselves in a long-term integral development process that is culturally-rooted, contextual, experiential and participatory. In and through a Living Faith, it is hoped that the energy that will radiate from the process will cause the evolvement and organic growth of a community-based economics (not just enterprise-based), a new urbanism that will prevent the natural and human resources to be depleted. It is hoped that the human habitat or the new human settlement will be an externalization of a vision of the City of God where all human beings may live a decent, dignified life in harmony with nature.