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adjacent possible Workshops

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth while the 'experts'

find themselves beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists." 

- Eric Hoffer


Beginning in 2021, The Center for Emergent Diplomacy is offering a series of virtual workshops emerging from collaboration with the Integrative Peacebuilding Network in Ottawa, Canada. An introduction to the basic principles of Complexity Science begins the series.  Each workshop consists of 2 1/2 days of brief lectures, followed by immersive dialogue and participatory games and activities that are exciting and fun. Workshop participants learn to practice a new way to think systemically about how to solve the unprecedented ecological, economic, and political challenges tearing us apart; how to facilitate moving from the paralysis of polarization to respectful and trusting shared action; and how to distribute leadership so that "swarm intelligence" can take over to tell a new story about future survival on a flourishing planet. Founder and Executive Director Dr. Merle Lefkoff will be the lead facilitator, often inviting colleagues to join her who have out-of-the-box ideas about the variety of topics navigated at the workshops.  

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A Brief Introduction to Complexity Science

This workshop is an introduction to Complex Adaptive Systems science and how its principles are being applied to transform new challenges, from every day interpersonal relations to international diplomacy, with a focus on those arising from climate catastrophe.  Applying Complexity to social problems, the new science can be thought of as a “physics of society”, a science of collective behavior—whether it’s a marriage, a political party, a country, a social movement, or a paramilitary network.  Because the human dynamics and natural forces that govern life on earth have become crazily complex over time, a new field of science with novel tools and  methodologies has leapt over the outdated Newtonian model of a predictable "clockwork universe" to help us navigate an increasingly unpredictable future.  The new thinking teaches us how simple rules and interventions enable resilience, order and stability to arise from the challenges surrounding us at home and around the world. We will share stories from the battlefield of collective conflict and practice the basic tools of Complexity thinking that can be applied to strategies for meaningful social change.


Facilitating Emergent Creativity

In order to survive the present environmental, political, and economic chaos that surround us, we need to be as creative as possible to insure a peaceful and sustainable future.  A facilitator's workbook ("The Creative Facilitator Playbook") pulls together present best practices and introduces a new facilitation methodology based on the science of Complex Adaptive Systems. Applying a new problem-solving process called "the adjacent possible" (TAP), workshop participants facilitate story-sharing and scenario building about our next future, in order to imagine as yet undiscovered solutions that may be hiding in plain sight.   

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Leadership as Network: New Ways of Leading in the 21st Century

Several years ago eminent leadership scholar Barbara Kellerman , anticipating the final collapse of the authoritarian, patriarchal leadership model dominating human history, wrote a book titled “The End of Leadership.”  She wrote: “Between husbands and wives and leaders and followers, there is a single striking similarity:  patterns of dominance....Husbands led, wives followed.  Leaders dominated, followers deferred....little original thought is given to what leader learning in the second decade of the 21st century should look like.”  Using a Complexity science lens, we take up Kellerman’s call to action and learn about the most promising emerging leadership models in the 21st century.  At the same time as dominant, authoritarian leaders poised on the edge of chaos appear to be holding on to power, there is hope and excitement at the grass-roots level as distributed leadership self-organizes in creative new ways to face the challenges resilience and adaptation that loom before us.

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