The Dominant Model of Education at our Universities is Failing Us

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Much of university education is forcing students to memorize facts they could look up on their cell phones…..

John M. Gerber

Analysis and reductionism are designed to take things apart and explain how they work. While this is certainly useful it also results in de-contextualization. When applied to a whole national education systems it can result in a radically inefficient system of education, where what students learn has no real meaning and relevance for them so it does not stay with them but is shortly lost.

Systems thinking teaches us the power of context. When we put things into context suddenly there emerges both a purpose and relevance. In context it is related to other things that have meaning for us and forms part of networks of interrelationships that reflect how the neural networks in our brain work. 

Rather than obsessing over the details of how decontextualized things work, systems thinking as a foundation could turn modern educational systems in to something that is relevant for our lives and the challenges we face as individuals and societies in the 21st century.

Joss Colchester; Systems Innovator

The post-industrial world is requiring a new set of competencies from us as individuals and from our education system as a whole. This new paradigm hinges around holism, complexity, and the decentralization of education….. for more, see the video below.

Walk Out Walk On

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Download the first chapter here….

This is a wonderful book on systems change by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze. To read more about the book and their work, click the link below.

Walk Out Walk On

Organizations based on living systems

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Why we need an ‘ecolocracy’

Brendan Montague| 15th February 2019
While I’m not particularly fond of the term “ecolocracy”….  the idea of modeling human organizations on living systems is worth thinking about if we are serious about sustainability and resilience. 
John Gerber

Ecolocracy is a ‘green print’ of how to run an organisation based on natural systems.

The need to develop human societies appropriate to natural systems has never been more urgent. Can natural systems themselves provide the information and examples necessary to develop these new societies? This question is very much in vogue.

There is today a need for philosophy – and in particular a philosophy of need. This philosophy should inform practice: the practice of developing our societies towards meeting the needs of its members directly, in an unmediated and unalienated way.

This philosophy requires and necessitates a much clearer understanding of human Read the rest of this entry »

Public-Commons Partnerships

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Keir Milburn and Bertie Russell – June 27, 2019 ·

Executive summary

This report introduces a new institutional framework for a transformative socialist politics: the Public-Common Partnership (PCP).

Whilst the era of new public-private partnerships in the UK has apparently come to an end, more than £199 billion of Public Private Partnership (PPP) payments from the public to the private sphere are due into the 2040s. This accumulation of wealth for the few comes at the cost of deteriorating services for the many. The debt itself serves to foreclose political alternatives by tying the hands of future authorities with ceaseless debt repayments and the further entrenchment of market logic.

The popularity of calls for the nationalisation of utilities or services – such as energy, water, and housing – points to a widespread rejection of the marketisation of essential services. Yet straightforward state ownership through nationalisation or municipalisation, often treated as a panacea, is not the only alternative. As well as questioning when and where centralised ownership is appropriate, we need to think about the institutional forms of ownership and governance that are most appropriate to

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Humanity and nature are not separate – we must see them as one to fix the climate crisis

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From transport and housing to food production and fashion, our civilisation is driving climate and ecological breakdown.

It’s no coincidence that almost every single sector of industry is contributing to the planet’s downfall, either. A deeper issue underlies each one’s part in the malaise enveloping the planet’s ecosystems – and its origins date back to long before the industrial revolution. To truly bring ourselves into harmony with the natural world, we must return to seeing humanity as part of it.

Though a varied and complex story, the widespread separation of humans from nature Read the rest of this entry »

Your Lying Mind… or the power of mental models

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Ben Yahoda in September, 2018 Science

I am staring at a photograph of myself that shows me 20 years older than I am now. I have not stepped into the twilight zone. Rather, I am trying to rid myself of some measure of my present bias, which is the tendency people have, when considering a trade-off between two future moments, to more heavily weight the one closer to the present. A great many academic studies have shown this bias—also known as hyperbolic discounting—to be robust and persistent.

Most of them have focused on money. When asked whether they would prefer to have, say, $150 today or $180 in one month, people tend to choose the $150. Giving up a 20 percent return on investment is a bad move—which is easy to recognize when the question is thrust away from the present. Asked whether they would take $150 a year Read the rest of this entry »

The Shambhala Worker

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An open letter to Sustainable Food and Farming majors….. (adapted with permission from Joanna Macy).  A printable version of this post maybe found here.

Many students who choose to study Sustainable Food and Farming have discovered their major through a circuitous route in which they tried other paths and found they just didn’t belong.  For you, I have a gift.  This is a story about people who don’t “fit” into the mainstream institutions, the citadels of learning, you know…. higher education.

There is a prophecy that emerged from Tibetan Buddhism about 12 hundred years ago. The signs it predicted are recognizable today… in our time. There are several

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Your life is a “story within a larger story”

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When I introduce my Agricultural Systems Thinking class  to the concept of hierarchy, I often use our own lives as a metaphor for “subsystems within larger systems.”  In this blog, I will try to examine the relationship of subsystems within a natural systems hierarchy (or holarchy) to the “system above”, which provides the “system below” with meaning.  But first, lets  examine the title of the blog “your life is a story within stories.”  I borrowed this metaphor from a wonderful systems thinker, Michael Dowd, who wrote ”

“Each of us is a story within stories. My daughter’s life story is part of both my story and her mother’s story. The story of our family is likewise part of other stories larger than our own: the story of our town, our state, our nation, Western civilization, humanity, planet

Earth, and the story of the Universe itself. Each of us is a story within stories within stories. Read the rest of this entry »

How to use the “iceberg” to understand complex systems

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icebergmodOne of the most useful tools available to a systems thinker is called “the iceberg“.  The iceberg metaphor represents the problems we face in the world (much like an iceberg is a problem for ships).  The visible world or the symptoms of a problem are easy to see.  But the bulk of the iceberg representing the underlying cause(s) of the problem is below the water line.  We need to learn to see below the water line.

Get it?

Okay…. so that was easy.  Now we dig deeper into the iceberg model and use it to try to

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Bottom up and place-based economics: a systemic solution

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By Chuck Collins – In Yes; Summer 2017

Resistance to the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrants, climate change policy, and economic fairness has been fierce. But alongside these efforts—from flooding representatives’ phone lines to packing town hall meetings to marching in protest—it’s also important to begin the work of building alternatives to the systems that underlie the exploitation of people and planet.

Chuck Collins wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Chuck is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies.  In the face of renewed calls for trickle-down economic policy—such as proposed tax cuts for the rich and transnational corporations—we urgently need a clearly articulated theory and practice of sustainable economics that work for local communities. Enter a blessing of a book, Anthony Flaccavento’s Building a Healthy

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