Facilitating communities of practice: from individual to ecosystem learning outcomes

The concept ‘community of practice’ is underpinned by an assumption that learning is a social process rather than a passive act of knowledge transfer between a knowledge giver (usually a master, expert or teacher) and a knowledge receiver (usually an apprentice, a novice or student).

Cracks in the supply chain: Is metastable turning into unstable?

What we are witnessing as a result of this pandemic is a widespread challenge to metastable systems upon which our societies depend. The most obvious are those related to hospitals and health care products. We often read in the news that hospitals are near “the breaking point” as if the hospital walls will burst when too many patients crowd into the building.

White Supremacism and the Earth System

The US is on the brink of becoming a racist failed state. It is no accident that this terrible moment arrives in the midst of a global pandemic; an escalating economic crisis; an oil sector meltdown. This is a perfect storm of simultaneous, complex crises. How did we get here? How do we solve this?

Resilience and Collective Psychology – Fast Collapse or Slow Disintegration

There is a need to explore what might happen after the limits to economic growth are reached, and whether humanity will face a manageable contraction or a variety of catastrophic collapses. In this chapter, I want to look at some of the conceptual thinking about these issues as they relate to the beginning of the 21st century.

Capitalism – a Self Organizing Structure That Leads to Self Extinction

We live with the belief that we have created an economic system called capitalism and that we have control over it though government policy and taxes.   What if the tables were turned and capitalism only describes a self organizing system that creates itself in an environment of surplus goods and services? 

Your Money or your Life? Putting Wellbeing before GDP

The work on progress indicators is all well and good, especially in challenging the political priority given to GDP. However, over the years I have grown more sceptical of the possibility of measuring, accurately and fully, the state of nations and the wellbeing of their people.

Keystone Attitudes and Policies of Enough

We need keystone policies that are underpinned by a vision of a rich social, personal and economic habitat for people. The role of politics is to design institutions and policies that enable people to co-operate and that facilitate citizens to act for the common good. The policies mentioned above function in this way. If key principles are observed or key attitudes developed, many structural problems can work themselves out in practice.

Finding our Common Ground and Common Purpose

We often talk about how important it is to see the ‘whole system’ – to understand more fully the relationships and interdependencies in the world. Our own work – across food, farming and countryside, public health and wellbeing, economics and rural development – seeks to illuminate the links.

A Brief History of Systems Science, Chaos and Complexity

On the one hand I believe it is vital to accept uncertainty, not-knowing, and unpredictability fully to the point of deep humility. On the other hand, I also believe that we need to choose to act from the conviction that we can design for positive emergence in complex systems even if it is not an exact science and we cannot know with certainty how our efforts will turn out to affect transformative change.