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Background (University of Earth: Meta-organization for Post-Crisis Action)


University of Earth: Meta-organization for Post-Crisis Action

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See Document overview. [See also website for University of Earth (2007)]


The University is concerned with the development of purpose in a time of turbulence. From this follows a preoccupation with the design of patterns and processes whereby such purpose may be furthered. 

Given the nature of this intent, any such definition is both a limitation and a distortion and is necessarily superficial. The University works with ways of moving beyond such limitations and distortions in order to embody significance more effectively in activities of immediate relevance to the development of society. 

Although it is valuable to leave the central intent underdefined, or open to continual redefinition, further understanding of it can be conveyed through a set of key terms. 

Maturity: The development of a progressively more mature mode of action is a core preoccupation. Ways of transcending and using disagreement are sought, whilst recognizing the valuable function of such divisive processes. Fashionable problems and short-term methods are seen in a broader context, whilst cultivating a spontaneous sense of the immediate significance of the present. An elitist form of maturity is avoided by developing a creative attitude toward the function of ignorance. 

Empowering force: The mode of operation is such as to cultivate a reservoir of energy whereby a wide variety of actions can be empowered, thus countering the pervasive sense of individual and collective impotence. Action is however primarily indirect, taking full advantage of the energy expended by opposing forces. 

Post-crisis: Work is primarily designed to be relevant to post-crisis conditions, in contrast to the widespread efforts at minor adaptation of existing structures. This requires both a long-term concern for cultural survival and the development of preparedness for a "mid-wife" function in the immediate future. 

Action oriented: Research is carried out with the intention of developing "blueprints" for action or to enable better modes of action to be generated. Priorities are such that little research is carried out purely for its own sake. 

Enrichment: Effort is directed toward countering the progressive impoverishment and homogenization of the psycho-cultural system. Diversity is cultivated so that the qualitative value of the parts to the whole can be readily appreciated. 

Quality: There is a central concern with the cultivation of quality and the design of a context within which such quality can be appreciated and enhanced. The essentially nameless quality cultivated encompasses both material and non-material dimensions, but especially the simpler and more fundamental qualities which are normally eroded, rather than embodied, in elitist contexts and "centres of excellence". 

Metaphor: The use of metaphor is to be fully explored as one of the few accessible ways of by-passing inherent delays in the processes of explanation, communication and education. Such delays are considered a major obstacle to significanttransformation of psycho-social systems. By cultivating the poetic dimension, metaphor is also to be used as a means of counter-balancing the sterilizing and de-humanizing effects of rational explanation. This is viewed as enhancing a vital feel for the organic relatedness of experience and as a stimulus to both imagination and creativity. 

Patterns that connect: Exploration of the nature of the patterns that connect a wide variety of phenomena is a central concern. This extends beyond conventional approaches to integration, interdisciplinarity, and general systems. It includes "enwholement", its representation, and its comprehension, especially when transcending the contradictions of incompatible patterns or different modes of perception. 

Vision: The development of more creative approaches to envisioning possible future designs of the psycho-social system is a major preoccupation. Importance is attached to making such approaches widely accessible, relating them to innovation procedures, experimenting with them, and providing a more creative context for the conflict between alternative visions. 

Paradigm transformation: Special attention is given to ways of facilitating the process of transforming the paradigms which determine basic attitudes towards experience. Such transformation extends beyond modification of the relationship of an ideal observer to rational frameworks. It encompasses collectivities of developing human beings for whom rational observation is but one condition in a pattern of ways of relating to experience. The emergence and decay of dogmas is viewed as an unavoidable process to which a careful relationship must be established. 

Counterpoint: Effort is directed toward complementing conventional "positive" approaches by cultivating a more creative understanding of "negative" approaches. In the same spirit, careful attention is given to any domain which is neglected or considered irrelevant. Deliberate attempts are made to "rehabilitate" the significance of whatever has been rejected in this way. This attitude extends to hidden assumptions and the ugly realities of the enterprise itself viewed as constituting its "shadow". 

Adversary awareness: Part of the tone of the initiative derives from the collective stance taken in opposition to an "adversary" whose image is progressively clarified. This approach is used as a way of focusing resources and attention. Efforts are especially directed to responding to the ability of the adversary to obscure or deflect understanding and purpose, and to erode configurations of resources. Ways of creatively redefining the context within which the adversary is perceived are an ongoing concern. Efforts are made to "internalize" the significance of adversaries, to explore the resulting dynamics as a means of transcending them, and to adopt a creative approach to scapegoat generation. 

Demonstration: Whenever possible, progress in understanding is applied experimentally in the form of innovations to the University as a collective enterprise and a community. The University is considered as its own laboratory, as well as an effective model of problems and conditions in wider society. Ifinnovations cannot be successfully and harmoniously implemented there, it is unlikely that they would prove significant elsewhere. 

Commitment: The degree of individual and collective commitment introduces a quite distinctive quality. The University is an environment congenial to highly self-motivated individuals and it encourages the redefinition of such commitment. There is a collective appreciation of the risks and sacrifices associated with the work as well as the possible benefits. 

Strategic approach: Emphasis is on developing a sense of strategy as a discipline by which the optimum use of resources is determined. In particular means are developed to transcend or avoid initiatives which have already been extensively explored and proven to be of only limited effectiveness. In elaborating strategies, the resources considered are not restricted by a narrow concept of relevance. This is broadened to justify the functions of as many features of the psycho-social system as is feasible. 

Constraints: In envisaging research and designing action strategies, special attention is given to the need for constraints, limits or self-discipline. Constraints, including death itself, are seen as a vital means of giving form to freedom. They are not simply regretted and eliminated as unwelcome impositions, but are viewed as a creative challenge which helps to structure any psycho-social design and to articulate its unique quality. 

Process orientation: The development of progressively more process oriented approaches is necessary if change is to be adequately understood. Ways are sought to work with ongoing processes rather than disrupting them unnecessarily by new structures or initiating new processes which create unnecessary patterns of discord. Psycho-social design is thus based as much on the present patterns of striving for desired conditions as on structures which may eventually result in the fulfilment of those desires. 

Configurative indirection: Much of the work responds to contradictions in the psycho-social system and in the efforts to improve it. Any creative response implies the possibility of some emergent synthesis which would transcend such limitations rather than simply favouring a particular model or method. It is suspected that the nature of the synthesis is such that its paradoxical quality cannot be completely embodied in simple forms. Emphasis is therefore given to indirect approaches. Configurations of competing forms, or patterns of resonance between alternative modes, are explored as ways of expressing the dynamics of subtler levels of synthesis in a manner significant for psycho-social design. 

Global transformation: Given the nature of the global problematique, research is necessarily designed to facilitate transformation of the psycho-social system as a whole. Such transformation is perceived as respecting cultural diversity rather than requiring either homogenization of methods oruniversal consensus on goals, values, and desirable forms of organization. 

Human development: Redefining the significance of human development is a central concern and directly or indirectly much of the work is designed to facilitate such development processes. The emphasis is as much on the personal development and maturation of the individual as on the development of the family or social context within which this can best occur. Interest encompasses the vital importance of the challenging obstacles and hardships necessary for significant human development and is thus not limited to furthering this process under ideal conditions. 

Mystery: Care is taken to avoid those involved taking the enterprise or themselves too seriously. There are factors and dimensions which cannot be satisfactorily encompassed by current responses to experience, as the future must necessarily make apparent, unless major advances in comprehension are to be denied. The impact of these factors on the present can only be adequately encountered by cultivating a sense of mystery, awe, paradox and humour. 

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