Exploring the Ecology of Leadership, Learning, and Change NR 285/385 (summer 2013) 3-credits INSTRUCTORS
Matt Kolan 209 Aiken email@example.com Tel. 656-4333 Online: July 1st - August 9th Residential Intensive: 10 am July 8th – 4 pm July 12th at Shelburne Farms
COURSE MEETING TIME
How can we learn and lead our way toward a regenerative future that enhances each person’s unique potential and fosters collective well- being? How might we evolve beyond thought patterns, mindsets and behaviors that are harmful, oppressive or limiting? What can nature teach us about how to catalyze change in a system? These are the central questions for this course. We live in a time of unprecedented global change. At this critical moment, it is not enough to simply do more of what we’ve been doing. We need to do it differently. As renowned systems thinker, Gregory Bateson described, “the major problems of the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and how people think.” Yet “how people think” is often a result of cultural norms that are difficult to identify (like a fish that doesn’t know it’s swimming in water) and even more challenging to exceed. As a result, most leadership styles stem from mental models that reflect dominant cultural ideologies and are grounded in particular assumptions about power, growth, success, wealth, and knowledge. This course will explore how we can: (1) move beyond thought patterns and mindsets that are harmful, oppressive, or limiting, and (2) embrace leadership and learning practices that enhance our individual creativity and our collective potential. This fundamental challenge requires us to rigorously examine our own thought patterns while examining the structures, norms, and underlying assumptions of the systems we inhabit. More specifically, this course is grounded in these foundational tenets: • • Inquiry and Exploration: with a focus on the exploration of new possibilities (rather than advocating for a particular answer or solution) Ecological Thinking and the Wisdom of Nature: as we look to nature as collaborator, teacher, and guide for fostering resilience, health, and vitality for future generations
• • •
Multiple Expressions: understanding that there are many equally valid ways to participate in fostering a regenerative future Embodiment: this experience will explore leadership practices that work from the inside out The Well Being of both the Individual and Whole
This course rests on the belief that efforts to create a healthy future for our planet will necessitate strategies that are firmly rooted in and reflect ecological realities and understandings. There are two central content areas that define this course: 1) Nature and Place Connection and 2) Transformational Leadership and Learning Practices 1) Nature and Place Connection In 2005, Richard Louv’s New York Times bestselling book Last Child in the Woods caught the attention of many millions of Americans and brought the term nature deficit disorder into the mainstream lexicon. Louv cites research linking the lack of nature connection in today’s wired generation with increasing trends in childhood autism, attention deficit and sensory process disorders, obesity, and depression. His book brings together a new and growing body of research suggesting that nature and place connection is vital for childhood development as well as the physical and emotional health of children and adults. However, connecting to nature offers far more than an intellectual understanding of ecological literacy. As we come to experience the sense of rootedness and belonging that emerges from a deep relationship with place, there is a shift that accompanies this awareness. These experiences heighten one’s sensitivity to the complexity and interdependence of living systems, and naturally foster a sense of responsibility and stewardship that has a profound influence on one’s worldview and leadership priorities. 2) Transformational Leadership/Learning Practices In addition to the strong focus on nature and place connection, students will be immersed in the principles and practices of transformative leadership and learning. This emerging field draws on transformative learning theory (with an emphasis on shifting mindsets that are the basis for how one operates in the world; not simply trying to change behaviors or deliver content), organizational change, systems thinking, and regenerative design. Students will leave the course with an introduction to tangible leadership skills, practices, and processes to facilitate shifts at the personal and system scale (the larger organizations, disciplines and fields that we occupy). Emphasis will be placed on integrating new insights into students’ home communities as well as their daily lives and practice.
The cornerstone experience of this course is a weeklong residential program at Shelburne Farms that will be organized around the fundamental ecological principles of uniqueness, diversity, interdependence, self-organization, and emergence. This will be a collaborative and participatory experience. Our days will include morning silence for individual awareness practice; practices for connecting with the land; time to engage in creative
expression; content, frameworks and practices for leadership, learning, and changemaking; dialogue, circle process, and storytelling to explore meaningful questions and diverse perspectives; reflective time for integration of key insights, and open space to collectively share and explore what is most alive. In addition, students will be expected to participate in a series of group phone calls and online activities before and after the residential intensive. Course Learning Objectives: • Experience with and an understanding of core routines of nature and place connection • Understanding principles and practices of transformational leadership • Understanding key tenets and core routines/practices of transformational learning theory
Critical reflection assignments/writings: Participation Individual Research/Action Project: Final Reflection: 100 points 60 points 100 points 40 points
Critical Reflection Assignments/Writings Before, during and after our residential immersion experience, participants will be asked to complete a series of readings and reflective writing assignments. These entries should go beyond descriptive accounts and should demonstrate higher order processing of concepts and experiences. Entries will provide opportunities to critically assess and integrate readings, presentations, dialogues, and project experiences, as well as explore new areas of inquiry. Throughout the semester, we will provide you with a number of specific prompts. However, we ask that you choose topics that are of interest or that you would like to explore in more depth. These reflections will provide valuable feedback about your experiences/interests and will serve as a useful roadmap for future topics/readings. A rubric for these readings will be handed out separately. Participation This course is built on principles of emergent design, and requires active participation and co-creation of the course content and process. Together we’ll identify key questions
that merit further research, reflection, and exploration. As a mechanism for participation, we’ll utilize dialogue and other constructive conversation techniques that can support group inquiry and help us discover insights that aren’t attainable individually. While some prompts will be provided, participants are expected to come prepared to engage and contribute. Because this course has relatively few meeting times and will require that we build a safe space to explore these issues, attendance and punctuality are a must. Reading Assignments Because this is a dynamic course driven by group questions and experience, reading assignments will be selected to address key issues that emerge. We will draw on a variety of reading materials but there are no required textbooks for this course. In addition to foundational readings, we will be sending out a weekly “e-bundle” of readings via email. Make sure you check your email regularly and that I have your current email address. (A list of readings we may draw from can be found at the end of this syllabus.) Research/Action Assignment This assignment is an opportunity to implement transformational leadership practices and principles in your own organization, community, family, OR to explore a specific area or question of interest (related to designing learning environments) in more depth. Following the residential intensive, participants will be asked to submit a short proposal outlining the scope and specific deliverables for their research or action assignment. This research assignment can culminate in a traditional research paper or other formats. Following the completion of this assignment, participants will be asked to share their project deliverables with their peers. Additional assignment details will be provided. Final Reflection Paper This paper is a final opportunity for reflection on the course experience. This paper should draw on the readings, residential experiences, dialogues, and research/action projects in an integrative and interdisciplinary way. Guidelines and a grading rubric will be handed out separately. Timeline Day Date M July 1 F M-F F F F July 5 July 8 to 13 July 19 Aug 2 Aug 9
Theme Organizational meeting; Student Introductions; Overview of 1st assignments. 5pm-6:30pm EST. 1st assignment and pre-course readings completed. Residential intensive; daily journaling. Project proposal due by 3pm EST. Research/action project deliverable by 3pm EST. Final reflection due, by 12pm EST.
READINGS AND RESOURCES
Foundational readings and weekly e-bundles will draw heavily from these resources.
Nature Connection, Learning, and the Wisdom of Nature Basso, K. H. 1996. Wisdom sits in places: Landscape and language among the Western Apache. Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press. Gruenewald, D. A. 2003. The best of both worlds: A critical pedagogy of place. Educational Researcher 32(4): 3-12. Fleischner, T.L. 2001. Natural history and the spiral of offering. Wild Earth (3/4) [Fall/Winter]: 10-13.
Kolan, M. & Poleman, W. 2009. Revitalizing Natural History Education by Design. Journal of Natural History Education. Louv, R. 2005. Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books. Louv, R. 2011. The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder, Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books. Young, J. 2010. Reclaiming Our Natural Connections. Audio CD. Sheldon, WA: OWLink Media. Young, J., Hass E. & McGowan E. 2010. Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature. Sheldon, WA: OWLink Media. Transformational Learning Argyris, C. 1991. Teaching smart people how to learn. Harvard Business Review May/June 6-15. Argyris, C. 1994. Good communication that blocks learning. Harvard Business Review July/August: 77-85. Bohm, D. 1992. Changing consciousness: Exploring the hidden source of the social, political, and environmental crises facing our world. San Francisco: Harper. Cushing, P. J. 1998. Completing the cycle of transformation: Lessons in the rites of passage model. Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education 9(6): 7-12. Cushing, P. J. 1999. Translating transformation into something real. Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education 12(1): 26-29. Dirkx, J. M. 1998. Transformative learning in the practice of adult education: An overview. PAACE Journal of Lifelong Education, 7: 1-14. Gardner, H. 1998. Are there additional intelligences? The case for naturalist, spiritual, and existential intelligences. In J. Kane (Ed.), Education, information, and transformation (pp. 111-131). Merrill-Prentice Hall. Upper Saddle River, NJ Lange, E. A. 2004. Transformative and restorative learning: A vital dialectic for sustainable societies. Adult Education Quarterly 54(2): 121-139. Mezirow, J. 1991. Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco: JosseyBass. Moore, J. 2005. Is higher education ready for transformative learning? A question explored in the study of sustainability. Journal of Transformative Education, 3(1), 76-91. O’Toole, L. 2008. Understanding and Taking Into Account Individual Patterns of Learning – Implications for the Well-being of Students and Teachers. European Journal of Education, 43 (1), 71-86. Rigoni, D. 2002. Teaching What Can’t Be Taught. Scarecrow Press, London.
Rizzolatti, G. & Sinigaglia, C. 2008. Mirrors in the brain: How our minds share actions and emotions. New York, Oxford University Press. Robinson, K. 2006. Do schools kill creativity? A presentation to TED Conference, February 2006. Silvia, P. J. 2008. Interest -- the curious emotion. Current Directions in Psychological Science 17(1): 57-60. Sansone, C., & Thoman, D. B. 2005. Interest as the missing motivator in self-regulation. European Psychologist 10: 175-186. Transformational Leadership Childs, J. 2003. Transcommunality: From the Politics of Conversion to the Ethics of Respect. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Denning, 2001. The springboard: How storytelling ignites action in knowledge-era organizations. Woburn, MA, Butterworth-Heinemann. Elliinor, L. & Gerard, G. 1998. Dialogue: Rediscover the transforming power of conversation. Hoboken, NJ, Wiley. Emmons, R. 2007. Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin. Jacobs Sife, D. 1999. The big stories. Retrieved January 5, 2010, from http://www.australianstorytelling.org.au/txt/bigstory.php. Luskin, F. 2002. Forgive For Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness. New York, NY: Harper Collins. Nelson, M. K. 2008. Original instructions: Indigenous teachings for a sustainable future. Rochester, VT, Bear and Co. Pranis, K. et al. 2003. Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community. Living Justice Press. Rosenberg, M. 2003. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press. Rosenberg, M. 2003. Life-Enriching Education: Nonviolent Communication Helps School Improve Performance, Reduce Conflict and Enhance Relationships. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press. Strauss, S. 1996. The passionate fact: Storytelling in natural history and cultural interpretation. Golden, CO: North American Press. Swamp, J. 1996. The Peacemaker’s Journey: How the Great Law of Peace Came to the Original Five Nations. Audio Literature. Trujillo, M. A. 2008. Re-centering culture and knowledge in conflict resolution practice. Syracuse, N.Y., Syracuse University Press. Wallace, P. 1994. White Roots of Peace: Iroquois Book of Life. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light. Weinstein, Netta, Andrew K. Przybylski, and Richard M. Ryan. 2009. Can Nature Make Us More Caring? Effects of Immersion in Nature on Intrinsic Aspirations and Generosity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 35 (10): 1315–29. Organization & Systems Change Adichie, C. 2010. The Danger of a Single Story.
Argyris, C. 1990. Overcoming organizational defenses: Facilitating organizational learning. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Block, P. 2008. Community: the Structure of Belonging. San Francisco, CA: BerrettKoehler. Bojer, M. et al. 2008. Mapping Dialogue: Essential Tools for Social Change. Chagrin Falls, OH: Taos Institute Publications. Brown, J. 2006. The World Café: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations that Matter. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler. Burgston, S. 2007. Universal Design in Education: Principles and Applications. University of Washington, [online] URL: http://www.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/PDF/ud_edu.pdf Cavanagh, J & Mander J. 2004. Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World is Possible. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler. Hawken, P. 2007. To remake the world: something earth-changing is afoot among civil society. Orion. Hopkins, R. 2008. The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times. Totnes, England: Green Books. Johnson, S. 2001. Emergence: The connected lives of ants, brains, cities and software. London, Allen Lane, The Penguin Press. Senge, P. 1990. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York, NY: Doubleday. Meadows, D. H. 1999. Leverage points: Places to intervene in a system. Hartland, Sustainability Institute: 1-19. Owen, H. 2008. Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide. San Francisco, CA: BerrettKoehler. Page, S. 2007. The difference: How the power of diversity creates better groups, firms, schools, and societies. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press. Ray, P. 2000. The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press. Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C.M., Torinon, G.C., Bucceri, J.M., Holder, A.M.B., Nadal, K.L., & Esquiliin, M.E. 2007. Racial microaggressions as instigators of difficult dialogues on race: Implications for student affairs professionals. College Student Affairs Journal 26: 136-143.
In keeping with University policy, any student with a disability who needs academic/classroom accommodations should contact ACCESS. ACCESS coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. They are located at A170 Living/Learning Center, and can be reached by phone at 802-656-7753, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit their website at http://www.uvm.edu/access.