Lecture – 2.11.2019

Additional Resources: Mindset & Posture

This page contains additional resources for the Mindset & Posture class.

The film Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview provides an overview of the global situation that Transition Design aspires to help address and discusses ways in which this transition might be catalysed. In addition to this film’s exploration of the emergence of a new worldview, it touches on many of the key themes within the four areas of the Transition Design Framework.

The video below discusses the life and work of Norwegian philosopher and founder of Deep Ecology Arne Naess and features interviews from many well known environmentalists. Deep Ecology advocates an expanded notion of ‘the self” that is able to identify and empathise not only with other humans, but with the natural world.

The Call of the Mountain: Arne Naess and the Deep Ecology Movement, directed by Jan van Boeckel, 1997

In the video below, businessman Ray Anderson describes the epiphany that shifted his mindset towards an ecological worldview. He subsequently led the transformation of his company, Interface, in pioneering sustainable carpeting.

Reality for Change, 2011

In the video below philosopher and physicist Henri Borfoft introduces the phenomenological approach to science that was pioneered by Wolfgang von Goethe. He argues that science cannot be decontextualized, that it is always embedded in the culture and history of its era, and asks what it means to say that we ‘know the world?’

Schumacher College, Devon, UK

In the video below, Myron Rogers, co-author with Margaret Wheatley of A Simpler Way, argues that organisations are like organisms rather than machines, and the imposition of machine dynamics on organizations produces many unintended consquences and is very damaging.

Berrett Koehler, 2008

The Architect Christopher Alexander has written extensively on his ideas about wholeness and design. In his early work, A Pattern Language he outlines aspects of wholeness and ‘life’ found in the things we design. Below is a brief interview in which he discusses these concepts.

Video from NPR, 2005

Discussion – 1.13.2019

Additional Resources: The Mechanistic vs. Holistic Worldview

This page contains additional resources for the The Mechanistic vs. Holistic Worldview class. You will see that the videos have been divided into two sections. First those that describe the characteristics and problems with the dominant, mechanistic worldview and the second section contains videos that explain the principles of a more holistic way of viewing the world (ecological worldview).

The Mechanistic Worldview

The two videos below (both humorous and serious) demonstrate and discuss different facets of mechanistic/reductionist thinking and the basis for George Ritzer’s concept of McDonaldization.

From: “I Love Lucy”, the episode in which Lucy and Ethel work in an overly mechanized chocolate factory

Video from Sociology Live!, 2015

George Ritzer’s concept of the McDonaldization of Society was informed by the work of sociologist Max Weber who first demonstrated how the principles of rationalization had been applied to social organization, leading to overly bureaucratic forms of government.

Video from The School of Life, 2015

And now for something completely different:

John Cleese, “The Scientists”, 2008

The Holistic Worldview

In the video from the link below, the founder and CEO of Interface carpets, Ray Anderson talks about his epiphany that led him to transition a multi-million dollar company to a more sustainable future.

Philosopher and author Roman Krznaric in this RSA video entitled The Power of Outtrospection argues that we can help drive social change by stepping outside ourselves, and that we need to learn “to expand our empathic imaginations forwards through time as well as across space”.

Video from the RSA, UK, 2011

The video below from the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), UK visualizes a lecture by neurologist, philosopher and author Iain McGilchrist. In it he argues that the right and left hemispheres of the brain enable us to perceive and interact with the world in fundamentally different ways: the right perceives wholes, contextualizes phenomena and tries to be aware of as much as possible; the left focuses on parts, decontextualizes phenomena, separates subject from object and strives for efficiency and control. In our era, the modus operandi of the left hemisphere has usurped that of the right, which has led to “our present predicament”.

Video from the RSA, UK, 2011

Ecologist and author Satish Kumar talks about a ‘new story’ for humanity, based upon a more ecological, holistic worldview.

Findhorn New Story Community, 2014

Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess developed the concept of Deep Ecology. In this film he talks about his connection with nature and the years he spent in hut on the mountain, Hallingskarvet.

Video by Rerun Boekel, 2009

Dr. Stephan Harding, ecologist/scientist, coordinator of the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College and author of Animate Earth talks about science, intuition and Gaia and the characteristics of a new worldview. The interview takes place on the grounds of Schumacher College, an international center for ecological studies in Devon, UK.

In the video below, physicist Fritjof Capra gives an introductory lecture on the Systems View of Life.

Schumacher College, 2016

Celebrated scientist, environmentalist and futurist James Lovelock developed the idea of Gaia Theory in the 1960s. The theory proposes that the earth is a large, self-regulating organism that maintains conditions conducive to life.

Video from Naked Science, 2009

In this video, educator and physicist Arthur Zajonc and other physicists engage in a discussion with the Dalai Lama about the similarities between quantum mechanics, relativity theory and Buddhist thought.

Video from The Mind and Life Conference XXVI, 2013

Physicist and philosopher David Bohm discusses wholeness and fragmentation and aspects of his book “Wholeness and the Implicate Order.”

Discussion – 2.18.2019

Additional Resources: Diversity & Equity

This page contains additional resources for the Diversity & Equity class. Issues related to diversity, equity, uneven power relations, implicit bias and what sociology professor Patricia Hill Collins has called “The Matrix of Domination” are crucial to understand and address within the Transition Design approach. An entire semester could be devoted to this single area and the videos shown below are intended to introduce students to these important topics/issues so that they may continue to deepen their understanding of them. This section on Diversity and Equity as well as the class on Building Community Capacity directly address the social relations and interactions that form the “connective tissue” of both wicked problems and socio-technical systems. The Mindset and Posture section of the Transition Design Framework asks designers to examine their own worldviews, mindsets and values and becoming aware of implicit bias is an important part of this journey.

Arturo Escobar: The guest speaker in the Diversity & Equity class is Arturo Escobar, author of the book Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy and the Making of Worlds. This video is a lecture given by Escobar at the International Institute of Social Studies in which he synopsizes the book.

Boaventura De Sousa Santos discusses non-Eurocentric ways of knowing and what is called “epistemologies of the South”, Coimbra, February, 2012.

Diversity and Inclusion: Diversity helps to improve our thinking and outcomes, but diversity alone is not enough. It takes equity to stop oppression. Our default ways of thinking are biased so we need to manage our thought process. In her powerful talk, Dr. Martin explores new ways of reducing our unconscious bias and understanding the forms of oppression we experience today. Dr. Atyia Martin is a Certified Emergency Manager with a diverse set of experiences in public health, emergency management, intelligence, and homeland security. Mayor Martin J. Walsh appointed her as the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Boston as part of the 100 Resilient Cities initiative pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

We all have implicit biases: Dushaw Hockett is the founder and Executive Director of Safe Places for the Advancement of Community and Equity (SPACEs), a Washington, DC-based leadership development and community building organization dedicated to bridging the gap between what people imagine and what they achieve. He’s the former Director of Special Initiatives for the Center for Community Change (CCC), a 40-plus year old national social justice organization founded in the memory of the late Robert F. Kennedy. Dushaw Hockett is the founder and Executive Director of Safe Places for the Advancement of Community and Equity (SPACEs), a Washington, DC-based leadership development and community building organization dedicated to bridging the gap between what people imagine and what they achieve. He’s the former Director of Special Initiatives for the Center for Community Change (CCC), a 40-plus year old national social justice organization founded in the memory of the late Robert F. Kennedy. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Your privilege is showing: Whether we acknowledge it or not, race, sex, gender, class, and privilege are all part of our daily lives no matter who we are, what we look like, or where we’re from. But too often we don’t talk about these issues for fear of saying the wrong thing, or that the conversations will be difficult, bitter, and even painful. Does it have to be that way? Artist and activist Lillian Medville has designed a surprising—and surprisingly effective—alternative. Lillian Medville is the creator and facilitator of Your Privilege is Showing. She developed this unique experience-based card game that allows for conversations about privilege and social justice through her own personal evolution with understanding culture and power. She has brought the game to MIT Media Lab, Harvard School of Ed, The Humanist Hub, Berklee College of Music, SXSWedu in March 2017, and is currently working on a documentary film about the Berklee College Pilot program that took place fall 2016. Lillian is creative and honest in her approach to doing what works through art. She works on projects related to social justice, bravery, and permission to be exactly who you are. The game can be found here.

Explaining Implicit Bias by the RSA: This animation introduces the key concepts of unconscious bias. It forms part of the Royal Society’s efforts to ensure that all those who serve on Royal Society selection and appointment panels are aware of differences in how candidates may present themselves, how to recognise bias in yourself and others, how to recognise inappropriate advocacy or unreasoned judgement. You can find out more about unconscious bias and download a briefing which includes current academic research at www.royalsociety.org/diversity.

Implicit Bias in AI DesignSasha Costanza-Chock discusses the need to eliminate bias from AI systems. Costanza-Chock is an assistant professor of civic media at MIT’s Comparative Media Studies/Writing program, and explores what it might mean to make a real effort at eliminating bias from AI systems.

The Matrix of Domination: Wikipedia defines the Matrix of Domination as a sociological paradigm that explains issues of oppression that deal with race, class, and gender, which, though recognized as different social classifications, are all interconnected. Other forms of classification, such as sexual orientation, religion, or age, apply to this theory as well. Patricia Hill Collins is credited with introducing the theory in her work entitled Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. As the term implies, there are many different ways one might experience domination, facing many different challenges in which one obstacle, such as race, may overlap with other sociological features. Characteristics such as race, age, and sex, may affect an individual in extremely different ways, in such simple cases as varying geography, socioeconomic status, or simply throughout time. Other scholars such as Kimberle Crenshaw’s Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color are credited with expanding Collins’ work. The matrix of domination is a way for people to acknowledge their privileges in society. How one is able to interact, what social groups one is in, and the networks one establishes is all based on different interconnected classifications. The Prezi file below can be accessed here.

Designs for the Pluriverse: Arturo Escobar discusses his book.

Discussion – 2.20.2019

Additional Resources: Contextual Thinking

This page contains additional resources for the Contextual Thinking class. The class addressed three areas of time, space and everyday life as a way to frame complex wicked problems in more appropriate, radically large contexts as a strategy for designing interventions aimed at transitioning entire socio-technical systems. Many of the videos below show how indigenous peoples have lived and designed in place-based ways that consider future generations (long horizons of time) and result in lifestyles that are more sustainable and convivial. This is deep contextual knowledge related to a particular environment and culture, with knowledge that is accrued over generations.
In this video activist, environmentalist and lawyer Vandana Shiva discusses why “indigenous knowledge” is “contextual knowledge”. Part of a panel at the International Seminar on Innovation, Sustainability and Development, Delhi, June 2011.
Video from School of Life, 2015
Stewart Brand’s book How Buildings Learn also laid out the way in which buildings change over time in response to how they are used/lived in. His views are also relevant to understanding the concept of wholeness. In this video he calls ‘time’ the main architect of buildings.
Acting with the distant future in mind: A discussion of the Long Now project, which argues that we need learn how to think and act with the distant future in mind: musician Brian Eno argues that “most of our problems are due to a shortage of long-term thinking”. Philosopher Sadie Plant challenges the concept of the Long Now, arguing that it perpetuates a particularly linear Western conception of time, and that it assumes that we can plan for the long term future.
Introduction to the concept of Deep Time: Philosopher David Abram introduces the concept of ‘Deep Time’ and the Deep Time walk that has been developed by Stephan Harding at Schumacher College in Devon. Deep time represents the aeons of Earth’s history, over which evolution and geological events have taken place; humanity has been present only for a fraction of this period. The Deep Time walk app, https://itunes.apple.com/app/apple-store/id1163814608?mt=8, has been developed to help users experience an embodied connection with Earth’s long history.
The Mbuti pygmies of Congo’s Wildlife Reserve talk about their place-based way of life. Note the variety of ‘designed’ tools and artifacts that are a part of everyday life.
Video from The Tribal Trust Foundation
The design of the traditional Blackhouse in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland is an example of place-based design. The house was a residence for both animals and humans, built of local materials for local conditions.
The people of Cherrapunji, India have been ‘growing’ bridges across rivers for more than 500 years using the roots of trees:
Architect Kunle Adeyemi is designing structures on water in response to changing environmental conditions.
Video from The Louisiana Channel.
Navajo master weaver Clara Sherman demonstrates the traditional way of carding wool and spinning it into yarn for weaving.
Video from Wolf Creek Productions, 2009 (Embedding disabled. Click picture to watch on YouTube.)
Bernard Rudofsky’s classic book Architecture without Architects offers many examples of design for place. The characteristics of these dwellings also have many of the characteristics of ‘wholeness’ mentioned previously in the seminar.
Djabugay Eldber Rhonda Brim talks about how she is carrying on the indigenous wisdom of basket weaving.
Discussion – 2.25.2019

Additional Resources: Building Community Capacity

This page contains additional resources for the Building Community Capacity class. Although this class concentrates on Adaptive Leadership as a strategy for working with the social complexities found within wicked problems and socio-technical systems, there are many other factors that students should be aware of including: stakeholder conflict and resolution strategies (often found within peacekeeping theory), co-design, and myriad facilitation strategies, all of which aim to: 1) surface the concerns, fears and needs of all stakeholder groups; 2) leverage the resident knowledge and expertise of stakeholders; 3) provide strategies for resolving stakeholder conflict (barriers to wicked problem resolution) and leverage areas in which they do agree; 4) build the capacity within communities to engage in productive civic conversation and the kind of radical collaboration required in transitioning whole systems.
Remaking relationships within social systems: Designer, social activist and author of Radical Help, Hilary Cottam whose work in Britain and with communities around the world has focused on collaborative and affordable solutions to some of the greatest social challenges of this century. This lecture was part of Frontline’s series of leadership seminars, which are aimed at exposing participants to leading thinkers in UK social work and other system influencers. Cottam’s reflections are relevant in terms of working for and within systems and the type of mindset and new ways of working that seeding/catalyzing change requires.
Community through Trans-formative Conflict Resolution: Patrick Ashton, Director of Peace and Conflict Studies at IPFW discusses how conflict has two sides. Like fire, it can be either destructive or productive. We just need to know how to deal with it constructively. Using techniques of conflict resolution and community mediation, we can create the basis for citizen engagement and democratic dialogue. We can ignite a fire to light our communities and our society. In this TED talks about the role neutral facilitators can play in resolving conflict as well as outline the positive side of conflict within social systems.
Conflict as a Space of Opportunity: Our approach to conflict is not a fixed part of our character, it is learned behavior that we can change. Dana Caspersen, conflict specialist, award-winning performer and author of “Changing the Conversation: The 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution” offers two simple, transformative actions that we can choose, which can fundamentally change the conflict conversations in our lives.
What is Community Capacity Building: This brief video defines what is meant by “building community capacity” and describes a process to support communities in achieving changes they define.
Measuring Community Capacity: The Aspen Institute Rural Economic Policy Program has developed the Measuring Community Capacity Building Workbook.