In Search of A Living Narrative + Approach for Humanity and Society 

“Any large-scale human cooperation – whether a modern state, a medieval church, an ancient city or an archaic tribe – is rooted in common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination.
Israeli historian, Yuval Noah Harari“

“It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The Old Story of how the world came to be and how we fit into it is not functioning properly, and we have not learned the New Story.”
Ecotheologian and Priest, Thomas Berry

“If you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy. ” 
Futurist –  Alvin Toffler

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
Dr. Martin Luther King

Introduction to this Weeks Workshop | Purpose + Description

Welcome to Workshop Module 2 – Deep Theory. This workshop offers an overarching theme and question for the semester: What is the new story of humanity? As the quotes above note the importance of story to humanity and the human species. As a whole, our species thrives on creativity and relative cooperation. A common story that collectively shapes our creative actions is essential.  Our collective creativity and ingenuity has lead to a population explosion of homo sapiens, and our material collateral around the globe.  The impact on the Earth’s biosphere is profound and our social fabric is becoming heavily strained. We are in need of a new, common story that can organize 7 billion people and their endeavors into a resilient, regenerative and sustainable global community.

As part of this class, you will become directly engaged in helping to design that new story. Over the next 16 weeks, you will add to your current capacity to act locally and think globally. We will learn skills that you can apply immediately in practice. We will also explore ways of the seeing, designing and thinking that can shape your career, and your perspective on the world for the remainder of you life. Welcome to Arch 8561.


Workshop Activities: Reflections + Exercises


[tr][th]Step[/th] [th]Action[/th][th]Activity[/th] [th]Note                                                                                                        .[/th][/tr]

[tr][th][/th] [th][/th][th]THEORY + PRACTICE REFLECTIONS[/th][th][/th][/tr]

[tr][td]  A[/td] [td]REVIEW [/td] [td]Videos, Readings, Slide Shows Below ↓[/td][td][/td][/tr]

[tr][td]  B[/td] [td]WRITE[/td] [td][btnsx id=”19827″][/td][td]A description of how to write your Theory + Practice Reflection is here[/td][/tr]
[tr][th][/th][th][/th][th]PROJECT EXERCISE[/th][th][/th][/tr]

[tr][td]  C[/td] [td]COMPLETE[/td][td]No Exercise[/td] [td][/td][/tr]

[tr][td]  D[/td] [td]UPLOAD[/td] [td]No Upload[/td] [td][/td][/tr]

[tr][th][/th][th][/th][th]CLASS RESOURCES[/th][th][/th][/tr]

[tr][td][/td][td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19943″][/td][td]Instructor Special Uploads[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td] [td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19818″][/td][td]Miro Reflection Board[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td] [td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19819″][/td][td]Miro Project Board[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td] [td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19861″][/td][td]Miro Instructor Board[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td][td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19352″][/td][td]Thurs 2:30-5:30 PM CST | ID: 950 4480 4169 | Pwd: 5nkFYc [/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td][td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19848″][/td][td]Takes you to the Student Share Google Drive Folders[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td][td][/td][td]All ‘Out-of-Class’ Activities (Theory Reflections and Project Exercises) are due by 12:00 Noon Thursday, on the Day of the Module Class [/td][td][/td][/tr]


Video + Readings
About 7-8 Hours Total | 2.5 Hours of Video + Reading / About 4.5 Hours for Contemplation + Writing

This Module covers (2) Living Design Elements: Narrative + Approach


Video: The History of Our World in 18 Minutes | David Christian – Time: 17:40 Minutes
About 18 Minutes of video and about 1/2 hour for Contemplation + Writing

Christians’ presentation of ‘big history’ takes us from the big bang 13.7 billion years ago, to the idea of expanding complexity, to the idea that humans have something unique relative to other species on the planet Earth – we  have something he refers to as ‘collective learning.’ Or, as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin might think about it, homo sapiens have something called the Noosphere.

In the past 200 years, with our combined use of fossil fuels and our capacity for collective learning, we have crossed a new complexity threshold. The idea that we have crossed a complexity threshold brings us to the idea of needing a new story. A story that can guide us collectively as a species through the dangers of this evolutionary threshold of complexity into a successful present and future.

We will use ‘The History of our World’ as a departure point into the quest for a new story. A new story for organizing humanities transformation through our new collective learning threshold. A new story that facilitates our next steps into a world that is inspiring, vital and teeming with life.

Link to the Video – This will take you out of the Module to a separate tab

Video: A Healthy Economy Should Be Designed to Thrive, Not Grow | Kate Raworth – Time: 15:53
About 16 Minutes of Video and about 1/2 Hour for Contemplation + Writing

What would a sustainable, universally beneficial economy look like? “Like a doughnut,” says Oxford economist Kate Raworth. In a stellar, eye-opening talk, she explains how we can move countries out of the hole — where people are falling short on life’s essentials — and create regenerative, distributive economies that work within the planet’s ecological limits.

Video: Wicked Problems – A Short Film | Systems Innovation – Time: 3:53
About 4 Minutes of Video and about 15 Minutes for Contemplation + Writing

Short video and text production explaining wicked problems. Wicked problems are highly complex problems. They are unstructured, open-ended, multi-dimensional, systemic, have no known solution. Examples include inequality, terrorism, environmental degradation or multicultural integration.


Video Pairing: ReThink Everything Film + Systems Design – A Short Film | Systems Innovation – Time: 2:40 and 13:41 Minutes
About 17 Minutes of Video and about 1/2 Hour for Contemplation + Writing

This is a short video about the different applications of systems innovation. It represents a High-level “Mental Model.” The mental model presented by this video is that we need ‘Rethink’ everything moving forward. You can connect the mental model in this film with Paul Gilding’s TED talk and the ‘Wicked Problems’ video above, and the Systems Thinking videos below to gain an understanding of ‘why’ we need to rethink everything.

Today with the rise of information technology the scale, scope, and complexity of the systems we are challenged to design is on a new level. Where once the challenge was largely for designers and engineers to focus on technical challenges within a specific domain, today as things become connected the challenge shifts to one of designing for whole complex adaptive systems of people, objects, devices, information, money, natural resources.

When things become highly interconnected, interdependent, and dynamic we need to change our thinking to a systems paradigm to be successful. Systems thinking is a way of responding to complexity as it shifts our focus from looking at separate parts to looking more at patterns of connections and the whole context. The same is true for systems design, it is a way of designing that should help us respond to the complexity of the systems we have to deal with today, to create simplicity on the other side of complexity.

Video: Systems Paradigm Overview | Systems Innovation – Time: 16:43
About 17 Minutes of Video and about 1/2 Hour for Contemplation + Writing

Short video and text production explaining wicked problems. Wicked problems are highly complex problems. They are unstructured, open-ended, multi-dimensional, systemic, have no known solution. Examples include inequality, terrorism, environmental degradation or multicultural integration.

Video: Systems Leadership | Systems Innovation – Time: 11:59
About 12 Minutes of Video and about 1/2 Hour for Contemplation + Writing

A common and valid question that arises amongst many people that are engaging sustainable design is this: How do we generate the transformation required to create a living future? How do I participate in that transformation? How do I take action, even if I am in school, just graduating from college, or in the early years of my career?  This video offers a provocative and actionable response to those questions through the perspective of Systems Thinking.

Video: Systems Thinking – A Little Film About a Big Idea | 11:55
This 2015 award winning film represents some the very latest in systems thinking mapping out the concept of ‘Mental Models’ and the ‘how’ of thinking. The video opens a door to applied systems thinking through the theory of DSRP: Distinction, Systems, Relations and Perspective. DSRP is clear, crisp and very usable at the ground level.

Video + Readings

Practice Templates are concise, actionable technics and methods for use during design, solutioning and problem solving.

Template: Mental Models
Similar to Mental Models: Frames and Paradigms | A mental model is an explanation of someone’s thought process about how something works in the real world. It is a representation of the surrounding world, the relationships between its various parts and a person’s intuitive perception about his or her own acts and their consequences. Wikipedia

Template: Systems Thinking
Systems Thinking and Reductive Thinking (scientific thinking) are the two primary models of thought in modern society.

Template: Basic Emergence – How we natively think in systems: DSRP/CAS
DSRP is theory that provides a cognitive structure for Systems Thinking. DSRP: Distinctions, Systems, Relationships and Perspectives. A complex adaptive system (CAS) is a system that is complex in that it is a dynamic network of interactions, but the behavior of the ensemble may not be predictable according to the behavior of the components. Wikipedia

Videos + Readings

Video: The Earth is Full + Q+A from the TED Stage | Paul Gilding – Time: 16:29 + 6:30 Minutes
About 23 Minutes of Video and about 1/2 Hour for Contemplation + Writing

This TED Talk was produced in 2012. Some of Paul Gildings concerns are beginning to playout within our society  | Have we used up all our resources? Have we filled up all the livable space on Earth? Paul Gilding suggests we have, and the possibility of devastating consequences, in a talk that’s equal parts terrifying and, oddly, hopeful.


The great debate of our time – Ecological Sustainability vs. Technical Sustainability plays out on the TED stage in this 6 1/2 minute Video | Is the Earth maxed out, or should we be optimistic about being able to solve our future? At TED2012 last week, Paul Gilding made the case for the former, and Peter Diamandis argued for the latter. And then: they debated onstage. Watch the video above to find out what happened.

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