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A Democratic Approach to Sustainable Futures: A Workbook for Addressing the Global Problematique Paperback – June 24, 2011
About the Author
ABOUT THE AUTHORS Thomas R. Flanagan, PhD, was raised in Massachusetts, attended universities in Massachusetts and Connecticut. He began his professional career life science and biomedical technology and worked in and founded high performance companies in New England and in Europe both in technology and in management roles. Tom’s appreciation for decision-making in diversified research and development teams let him to advanced studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and subsequently to an opportunity to work with Dr. Alexander Christakis and support co-laboratories of democracy in international business, government agencies, and community missions. Tom has taught classes in biology, chemistry, engineering, and management for university students and online classes for practitioner training in participatory democracy. His published books include The Talking Point: Creating an Environment for Exploring Complex Meaning, (with AN Christakis; 2010}; CogniSystem™ A User's Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide for Collaborative Design (2006). Previous use of the approaches presented in this workbook appear in: An Online Course in Sustainable Democracy: A Group Decision Making Process (in press). Kenneth C. Bausch, PhD, grew up in Ohio and received his BA in Philosophy from Duns Scotus College followed by four years of intensive theological studies at St. Leonard's College. He began his professional life as a Catholic priest of the Franciscan Order and has been a pastor, a high school teacher, an inner-city organizer working with street gangs and community groups, a social service administrator, a homebuilder, and an university professor. In the course of 40 years of inquiry into the human condition, he has delved intensively into philosophy, orthodox theology, Eastern religions, social and political ideology, psychology, sociology, and systems theory. Ken holds an MA in Psychology at the University of West Georgia and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Saybrook University. Ken took up the leadership role of the Institute for 21st Century Agoras. Ken has taught psychology, sociology and systems science at several colleges including Capella University, and is currently teaching an online course through Flinders University in Australia. His published books include The Emerging Consensus in Social Systems Theory, (2001), Body Wisdom: Interplay of Body and Ego (2010), and Harnessing Collective Wisdom and Power to Construct the Future (with AN Christakis; 2006).
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I rate it as a five for its intended purpose, but absent references to other critical supplements that I link to below, it is a four by which I mean it cannot comprise the sole text for teaching. As an endeavor in systemic thinking and a new tool for teaching systemic thinking, it is a six.
Although I am generally hostile to software as a panacea that obscures more than it illuminates (especially if the assumptions buried in the code are flawed), I give the authors the benefit of the doubt, and would seek to integrate their endeavor with those of Medard Gabel, the State of the Future project, and other emerging efforts to create functional hybrid networked governance systems.
Ambassador John McDonald provides the foreword, and I pull two quotes from him:
QUOTE (vii): The theories are not particularly useful to develop predictive models.
QUOTE (viii): This is the book to prepare for the messy multi-layered, multi-faceted, personal, political real world of applied activism.
I am more fully engaged by the book's listing of 49 Continuous Critical Problems (CCP) in 10 clusters, and list them here to highlight the richness of the offering. For each of the 49 CCP, at least five substantive links are provided. If combined with the top authorities and top web sites I funded in 2006 on each of the 30 factors within the Earth Intelligence Network's strategic analytic model [search for <World Brain 103>], students and professionals can really break out of the stunted linear patterns characteristic of industrial-era education.
CLUSTER 1: POPULAR GROWTH
CCP 1: Explosive Population Growth with Consequent Escalation of Social, Economic, and Other Problems
CCP 8: Growing inequalities in the Distribution of Wealth throughout the World
CCP 19: Inadequate Shelter and Transportation
CCP 20: Obsolete and Discriminatory Income Distribution System(s)
CCP 27: Unbalanced Population Distribution
CCP 31: Widespread Unemployment and Generalized Under-Employment
CCP 32: Spreading "Discontent" throughout Most Classes of Society
CCP 43: Irrational "Distribution" of Industry Supported by Policies that Will Strength the Current [Negative] Patterns
CLUSTER 2: POVERTY, LAGS, & GAPS
CCP 2 Widespread Poverty throughout the World
CCP 5: Generalized and Growing Malnutrition
CCP 9: Insufficient and Irrationally Organized Medical Care
CCP 39: Growing Technological Gaps and Laps between Developed and Developing Areas
CLUSTER 3: WARFARE
CCP 3: Increase in the Production, Destructive Capacity, and Accessibility All Weapons of War
CCP 29: Increasing A-Social and Anti-Social Behavior and Consequent Rise in Criminality
CCP 30: Inadequate and Obsolete Law Enforcement and Correction Practices
CCP 33: Polarization of Military Power and Psychological Impacts of the Policy of Deterrence
CCP 40: New Modes of Localized Welfare
CLUSTER 4: URBANIZATION
CCP 4: Uncontrolled Urban Spread
CCP 17: Continuing Deterioration of Inner-Cities or Slums
CLUSTER 5: EDUCATION
CCP 6: Persistence of Widespread Illiteracy
CCP 13: Anacronistic and Irrelevant Education
CCP 37: Growing of Distorted Information to Influence and Manipulate People
CLUSTER 6: INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS
CCP 7: Expanding Mechanization and Bureaucratization of Almost All Human Activity
CCP 25: general Inadequate and Obsolete Institutional Arrangements
CCP 34: Fast Obsolescing Political Structures and Processes
CCP 38: Fragmented International Monetary System
CCP 41: Inadequate Participation of People in Public Decisions
CCP 42: Unimaginative conceptions of World-Order and the Rule of Law
CCP 45: Obsolete System of World Trade
CCP 46: Ill-Conceived Use of International Agencies for National or Sectoral Ends
CCP 47: Insufficient Authority of International Agencies
CLUSTER 7: PREJUDICES
CCP 10: Hardening discrimination against Minorities
CCP 11: hardening Prejudices Against Differing Cultures
CCP 28: Ideological Fragmentation and Semantic Barriers to Communication Between Individuals, Groups, and Nations
CLUSTER 8: UNKNOWNS
CCP 12: Affluence and Its Unknown Consequences
CCP 49: Insufficient Understanding of Continuous Critical Problems, their Nature, their Interactions and the Future Consequences that their Current Solutions are Generating
CLUSTER 9: ENVIRONMENT
CCP 14: Generalized Environmental Deterioration
CCP 21: Accelerating Wastage and Exhaustion of Natural Resources
CCP 22: Growing Environmental Pollution
CCP 24: Major Disturbance of the Globe's/World's Physical Lining
CCP 35: Irrational Agricultural Practices
CCP 36: Irresponsible Use of Pesticides, Chemical Additives, Insufficiently Tested Drugs, Fertilizers, Etc.
CLUSTER 10: VALUE-BASE
CCP 15 Generalized Lack of Agreed-On Alternatives to Present Trends
CCP 16: Widespread Failure to Stimulate Man's Creative Capacity
CCP 18: Growing Irrelevance of Traditional Values and Continuing Failure to Evolve New Value Systems
CCP 23: Generalized Alienation of Youth
CCP 26 Limited Understanding of What Is "Feasible" in the Way of Corrective Measures
CCP 44: Growing Tendency to be satisfied with Technological Solutions for Every Kind of Problem
The volume is substantially complemented by an earlier book from the same mind-set, How People Harness Their Collective Wisdom And Power to Construct the Future (Research in Public Management (Unnumbered).).
Below are books that I recommend in addition to this one, books that I would use together with this one to teach a class in holistic reality-based analytics (I am unemployed, anyone who wants such a class taught, get in touch).
The Lessons of History
Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure
Redesigning Society (Stanford Business Books)
Critical Choices. The United Nations, Networks, and the Future of Global Governance
High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them
A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change
Governing Water: Contentious Transnational Politics and Global Institution Building
Who Governs the Globe? (Cambridge Studies in International Relations)
Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny
Students would earn extra credit by becoming familiar with my own work, and the literatures on collective intelligence, open source everything, evolutionary consciousness, and emergence, as well as human scale, small is beautiful, bio-mimicry, and so on (see the two lists of lists all linked back to Amazon pages, at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, under Books in the top bar).
Bottom line: as soon as the public gets fed-up with "Griftopia" or corruption as usual, the tools and the mind-sets to create a prosperous world at peace are fully developed and in waiting. But like the light-bulb in the shrink joke (how many does it take to change), the public has to WANT to change, we cannot do that for them.
Despite the explosive number of worldwide implementations, a practical guide to the application of the methodology of dialogic design, which addresses the needs of both trained facilitators as well as students, was missing. The `workbook' by Flanagan and Bausch comes to rescue. It not only fills this gap, but moreover it sets new standards and new objectives for the wider dissemination and exploitation of SDD.
The approach of Flanagan and Bausch, to allow the exploration into the problématique of global sustainability, to be conducted either online in virtual classrooms or face-to-face in traditional course settings opens also the door for the envisioned scalability of SDD, which capitalizes on emerging communication technologies. Their work will hopefully facilitate the transition of our mindset from the `virtual classroom' to the `virtual dialogue' concept.
The examples in this `workbook' take inspiration from the kind of problems, for which SDD was originally developed, i.e., growing worldwide complexities and uncertainties. The student will inevitably embrace the thesis that the type of wicked problems that mankind faces are of a global nature and it is therefore indispensable that also our actions towards their resolution capitalize from methodologies that facilitate the harnessing of the collective wisdom and target their interventions to those elements of the system that have the greatest capability to influence change at the global level.
In sum, the `workbook' by Flanagan and Bausch constitutes an excellent contribution in our effort to achieve greater awareness as well as to build capacity across the world that will serve as leverage to positive social transformations.