"The current crisis in higher education has three characteristics: it’s overpriced, out of touch (with society’s real needs), and outdated (in its method and purpose)." Otto Scharmer, U.Lab: Seven Principles for Revolutionizing Higher Ed.
Our Oakland focused Ulab at Impact HUB Oakland is wrapping up in the coming weeks. In many ways, the ULab is already prototyping a new method of education with a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), "a true 21st-century model of higher education, is already emerging: it’s free (or accessible to everyone), it’s empowering (putting the learner into the driver’s seat of profound personal, professional, and societal renewal), and it’s transformational (providing new learning environments that activate the deepest human capacities to create — both individually and collectively)." In Seven Principles for Revolutionizing Higher Ed, Otto Scharmer outlines how our work in this global community is already transforming these outdated systems.
Otto writes: "The U.Lab is a small first step into this new global territory. We don’t know how big the opportunity is to reimagine education by engaging the global social field more intentionally. But it does feel like a significant beginning. Most of the coaching circles, Hubs, and learners are now organizing around countless prototyping initiatives that they will pursue going forward—way beyond the formal end of the class."
In the U.Lab, the learning isn't in the classroom. It is decentralized, and most of the learning is outsider of the classroom altogether. Some powerful principles and actions are emerging "that have the potential to revolutionize higher education. Here are seven of them:
(1) Streets: Move learning from the classroom (or computer) to the street.
(2) Head, Heart & Hand: Link the power of entrepreneurship with passion and compassion.
(3) Stillness: The new axis of learning & leadership requires us to connect to our sources of self-knowledge.
(4) Holding Space: Activate the self-organizing potential of networks to generate transformative “deep learning” experiences.
(5) Tools: Provide methods and tools for co-sensing and co-shaping the emerging future.
6) Deep Data: Move from big data to “deep data.”
(7) Social Fields: Closing the feedback loop between collective awareness and collective action. "
Several new prototype opportunities have emerged for me personally from these very principles in the MIT U.Lab course. I wrote about one of opportunity here, sharing my participation in the Rauschenberg Residency where we launched our year long group pilot by exploring the question: "What would creative leadership education look like to create the outcomes we want for our future?" This article provides a great framework for this question and I will be mapping the U.lab process and principles onto the Rauschenberg Residency prototype as teh year unfolds. I will share more about emerging prototypes here in the next few posts.
-Sarah R. Filley
I am honored to participate in Rauschenberg Residency proposed by Sanjit Sethi, Director of the School of Art and Design at George Washington University. A day after the election, I was on a plane to Captiva Island off the coast of Florida. It was a surreal experience to be greeted by a brilliant and generous group of people, a delicious meal, and plenty of wine against a backdrop of palm trees and the seaside on that evening. I look forward to working with this core group to design and pilot a project that "exists in three distinct socio-geographic regions at the intersection of design, policy, cultural programming and philanthropy, and create recommendations on how Arts Education can operate in the future. " 1
Our facilitator and host, summed it up in his facebook post:
"Last Wednesday I, along with six dedicated colleagues, embarked on a year-long project through the generous support of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation intended to redesign our approach to Arts Education.
Over an intense 1.5 days in the idyllic settings of the Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island, Florida we launched this project under the scepter of the devastating election results we experienced this week. We mapped, prioritized, deciphered, critiqued, listed, crossed-out, distilled, elaborated, focused and pushed each other to move beyond current models and prevailing attitudes of Arts Education. Over the next year, this core group will design and pilot a project that exists in three distinct socio-geographic regions, build more expansive and nuanced relationships between areas of design, policy, cultural programming and philanthropy, and create recommendations on how Arts Education can operate in the future.
I am incredibly grateful to Roger Montoya, Liz Maugans, Maureen Lallos Dwyer, Jennifer Parks, Christine Cerqueira Gaspar, Sarah R Filley, Marianna Brown Schaffer, for, despite Tuesday's trauma, rolling up their sleeves, coming together as listeners, thinkers and visionaries and embarking upon on the creation of something greater than the sum of its parts." - Sanjit Sethi (1).
Future posts will examine the how the ULab process can support this work, and I will be sharing the process of prototyping!
ULab and Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0
Photo: Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0 Summary Report
What does a global initiative of wellness look like? This blog will have a series of posts about my own journey co-facilitating the Ulab, a methodology for personal and social change.
This post shares how the ULab methodology was applied to a larger Lab of global change makers to address Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0, an action-learning platform, co-founded by the GIZ Global Leadership Academy (GLAC)  (Germany), the Presencing Institute (Cambridge, MA), and the Gross National Happiness Centre (Bhutan) to advance new ways of generating and measuring wellbeing at multiple levels in society.
They recently released a report encapsulating their journey since 2013. Here is how they describe the ULab process:
"Theory UThe Lab was designed on the principles of Theory U – an innovation process that individuals and groups can use to suspend habitual ways of paying attention, access deeper sources of knowing, and explore the future they want to create through rapid-cycle prototyping. Developed by Lab co-facilitator Otto Scharmer along with colleagues at MIT, Theory U has been field-tested in multi-stakeholder innovation processes around the world over the past two decades.
One way the U process differs from other innovation processes is in its emphasis on co-sensing. Co-sensing helps us connect with and tune in to the contexts that matter; moving into a state of seeing in which the boundary between observer and observed begins to collapse and in which the system begins to see itself.
One of the key U-based methods we use in the Lab is learning journeys (sometimes called sensing journeys). A learning journey is a deep-dive immersion into places that have the potential to teach us about the emerging future. To prepare for learning journeys, participants are coached to not only look for innovative solutions, but also pay particular attention to the way they are paying attention: to look for information that disconfirms their own expectations and to interact with the key innovators and stakeholders in that community with an open mind and open heart. We will describe the specific learning journeys in more detail below."
I like how they paid attention to an aspect of change work that is often characterized as friction, but I think this friction is often where the heat of innovation forges new outcomes: "
Three key characteristics underpin the nature of social labs in our view:
Innovation and design.
Lost Arts Studio Visit:
I couldn't go to Chicago and NOT check out the new Lost Arts space. They were generous enough to take an hour to tour us around, share their vision, and talk to us about the ecosystem of Chicago innovation. I LOVE the space and their ethos of flex space for projects is what is most needed for prototyping the future of our cities. Only a few Universities have space and equipment like this, which makes a public membership space even more important. I also love that it started as a pop-up and grew into a larger second and more permanent space after a one month project.
In their own words: "Lost Arts is a blend of laboratory, workshop, atelier, incubator and playground rooted in a legacy of interdisciplinary spaces like the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College. Whether you need a desk to work at, a lightweight prototyping and production facility, art studio or event space we have you covered. At Lost Arts, ambitious creatives have the tools, resources, and kinship they need to bring new ideas to life. Focus on a personal project. Start a business. Discover a new discipline. Explore an idea, then build it." Special thank you to Dustin and to the founder Charles Alder! Read more here.
Chicago Design Museum:
This was another stop of ours, the Chicago Design Museum. Although in a mall, we were impressed with the installation, gift shop, and studio in the back all sharing a space that hosted various exhibitions and critical investigations of design within the city. The current exhibition was the "City of Ideas: Architects’ Voices and Visions" an "ongoing conceptual installation project, inaugurated at Sydney University’s Tin Sheds Gallery and traveling to ChiDM from October 2016 to February 2017. Its key objective is to present original voices and visions of leading international architects recorded and transcribed by curator Vladimir Belogolovsky." I think we will see more of this, utilizing empty mall spaces for civic minded and engaged concept spaces. To be honest I was more interested in the shop / office space in the back, and wanted to know a bit more about how the experiment was leading them. For an architectural and design space it had a VERY specific aesthetic that did not challenge the raw space with plywood and black paint look, yet I look forward to how they settle in to the space and push further into building it out to look more inviting and inclusive.
Cloud Gate was a landmark that we had to see. It struck me how long we linguered not only to interact with it but to talk to the other people there share our experiences around it. This is the power of art and specifically sculpture to bend our attention to place. In the wake of the current political climate following the election, I am moved by his response only weeks after I had a chance to see it for the first time, to paint it black. "Taking advantage of his exclusive rights to make artistic use of the high-tech, light-absorbing material Vantablack, the British artist Anish Kapoor has covered the entire surface of his Chicago public sculpture “Cloud Gate” (2006) with it. He comments: 'I think the Vantablack version is more about introspection, about becoming disoriented, lost, and enveloped in an overwhelming void of nothingness.'" - Hyperallergic
He says this about the role of sculpture in public space: "I think that there’s a lot that can be done in terms of engaging real public space. For the most part, all the symbolic values that we’ve given public squares, objects in public squares, etc. etc.—all those things are gone...One has to look somewhere else for those deeper communal values...Sculpture plays a whole role in the whole process of us saying, “What is our communal space?” Cities generally speaking are planned to death. They don’t allow room! They don’t allow even the smallest room for this kind of innovative, open-ended process that looks at, “What does it mean to properly participate? " - City Lab
After great recommendations here is where we ate in Chicago. The special occasion? You're Mom only celebrates her 70th Birthday once! Our first stop was El Che. Because meat, a wall of fire, and a pretty amazing bathroom. From the site: "El Che Bar exudes the contemporary rhythms of Buenos Aires through a local lens, evoking inviting vibes with sultry and subtle nods to South American culture. [...] The expansive hearth serves up classic wood-fired Al Asador. Locally sourced vegetables, grilled meats, and seafood are cooked on custom-built grills and chapas." We met the Chef John Manion, he was generous with champagne, a great bar recommendation, and a cute pic with Mom.
The Pelican was another favorite place! Because meat. Again.
I wanted to share a bit about our keynote presentation at The ULI Changing World Speaker Series: Shaping Cities and Communities for the ULI (Urban Land Institute) Fall Conference in Dallas, TX.
The panel focused on the themes of changing communities and pushing real estate from outside the industry. In many ways Popuphood does just that. From their website: "Cities and communities are shaped by the ideas and interactions of the people within them. Thought leaders will shine a spotlight on how creating community and accelerating innovation can revitalize and reconnect cities and neighborhoods." My fellow panelists included keynote speakers Jason Hall of Slow Roll, Detroit and Peter Kageyama of Alliance for Innovation.
It was a chance to share Popuphood's social mission and how we have evolved over the last 5 years as well as to hear from Peter about loving our cities, and Jason Halls' perspective on the role of cycling together as a strategy to bring community together through exploring and celebrating one's city.
We had a chance to explore Deep Ellum, a neighborhood that felt like a movie set with a edge. New bars and restaurants attracted to the human scale of the historical buildings and the established places that served up big plates with live music. Basically we loved it.
A bit about ULI, they Connect with the World of Real Estate. With more than 6,000 leaders from around the world and from every sector of real estate and land use the conference brings everyone together to share best practices and get the latest information on trends affecting the industry. Thank you to ULI for the honor of presenting and for all the good work ULI does in cities across the country!
Recent Press, ULI Magazine
ULI Fall Meeting, Changing the world speaker series.