"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 Summer 2019, the Center for Emergent Diplomacy is offering a series of workshops emerging from collaborative work with the Integrative Peacebuilding Network in Ottawa, Canada.  An introduction to Complexity Science begins the series.  Each workshop consists of 2 1/2 days of immersive dialogue and experiential games and activities that give participants access to a new way of thinking about how to hold our world together and solve the unprecedented ecological, economic, and political challenges tearing us apart. Founder and Executive Director Dr. Merle Lefkoff will be the lead facilitator, inviting colleagues to join her who have special knowledge and often authorship in the variety of topics navigated at the workshops.   

More information about 2019 workshop topics and dates will be posted here soon.

How to Think Like an Ecosystem: A Workshop on Complexity and Compassionate Action

Nature is a wonderful example of what the new science of “Complex Adaptive Systems” terms a self-organizing and emergent system.  The behaviors of natural systems also apply to social systems and give us hope for a future of adaptation and peace in these turbulent times.  How can we humans, surrounded by unfettered capitalism, climate catastrophe, and a renewed nuclear threat, use the principles of ecosystem and Complexity thinking to uncover emergent solutions for our wicked problems?  Through immersive dialogue and experiential activities, this workshop will explore how insights from Complexity science opens our hearts and minds to active engagement with the unprecedented global challenges facing people and the planet. Our intent is that participants come away with new insights and skills to help foster adaptation and resilience in an emerging, frightening, and yet unknowable future.

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. This skills-building workshop focuses on facilitation techniques that practitioners can use to encourage the collective emergence of as yet undiscovered creative strategies to solve increasingly complex problems.  The course applies a process called Liberating Structures, based on the work of Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz, that clarify the micro-structures that underlie patterns of human interaction. Together participants will test activities such as “immersion workshop”, “improv prototyping“, “purpose to practice to action”, among others, in order to better facilitate groups seeking to address dozens of global challenges and threats.

A Brief Introduction to Complexity

The human dynamics and natural forces that govern life on earth has become increasingly complex over time.  A new field of science with its tools, methods, and thinking has emerged to explain how simple rules and interventions allow order and stability to arise from the conflicts surrounding us at home and around the world. This workshop is an introduction to Complex Adaptive Systems science and how its principles are being applied to transform conflicts, from every day interpersonal relations to international diplomacy, and those arising from climate catastrophe.  The new science of Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) can be thought of as a “physics of society”, a science of collective behavior—whether it’s a marriage, a political party, an ecosystem or a country, a social movement or a terrorist network. This two day workshop is directed toward learning skillful ways to “steer” a system through a complex web of interactions and recognize advantageous recurring patterns of behavior. 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 individual and social change.

Unmasking the Domination Code

Original peoples, including Canadian First Nations leaders and tribal members from North and South America, are rising to demand the basic human and land and water rights that have been denied them since the beginning of White colonization. The recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) documented many of the recurrent horrors perpetrated against land-based Native cultures.  This workshop will concentrate specifically on the results of the historic 15th Century genocidal papal texts known as the “Doctrine of Discovery” in order to consider the present possibilities for redemption and reconciliation.  Topics covered will also include broken treaties, residential schools, and Indigenous social movements.

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

Six years ago eminent leadership scholar Barbara Kellerman 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… leaders dominate, etc....are radically different now from what they were even one hundred years ago, at least in the West. “Husbands led, wives followed.  Leaders dominated, followers deferred."  Kellerman further questions whether leadership can be taught. “As a whole the leadership industry is self-satisfied, self-perpetuating, and poorly policed.  Leadership programs tend to proliferate without assessment…and 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 explore the most promising emerging leadership models in the 21st century.  At the same time as dominant, authoritarian leaders appear to be newly ascendant in the West, there is hope and excitement at the grass-roots level as collaborative and distributed leadership emerges to face the challenges of resilience that loom before us.

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