Global Sensemaking

Tools for Dialogue and Deliberation on Wicked Problems

Global Sensemaking University


Global Sensemaking University

I made a comment that offered my interest in the notion of an international Global Sensemaking University, one that is, by definition (in my vision) multidisciplinary, one that is project-based, one that proposes and facilitates web quests, and more.

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Latest Activity: Jun 10, 2008

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Just thinking outloud 2 Replies

Started by Jack Park. Last reply by David Price Jun 1, 2008.

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Comment by Jack Park on May 23, 2008 at 2:45
The text box did not give me enough room to finish describing the concept. The Global Sensemaking University (TGSU) is imagined (by me) to be fully inclusive, creating spaces for learners of all ages to participate, encouraging participation creep in an upward direction, providing progress metrics such that progress made within the university is transferable to classrooms everywhere.

The vision imagines that TGSU would collaborate with students in other universities and with industry to create a wide variety of sensemaking tools; the notion is that there are variations across epistemic communities in styles, in ways of knowing, and ways of behaving; no one particular tool should be expected to satisfy all communities.

The university, in my view, facilitates two kinds of sensemaking inquiry:
1- the inquiry that is the science of sensemaking itself
2- the inquiries that are applied sensemaking in all of the many wicked problems for which sensemaking science is being developed.

I strongly believe that this suggestion overlaps in powerful ways the great works already in progress at KMi, MIT, and many other places around the planet. I see each of the many entities already so engaged serving to provide courseware, lectures, and so forth to the university.

What animates this suggestion is a strong personal suspicion that there are financial opportunities springing up around the world that do not rely on traditional funding sources.

I open the floor to discussion of these and related concepts. Perhaps we will supplement this group with a DebateGraph entity.
Comment by George E. Mobus on May 23, 2008 at 4:11
This idea really excites me. An educational arm of a global sensemaking effort seems an entirely natural extension and the idea of a virtual university is very much in the air these days. Right now the possibilities seem unbounded.

I have been a vocal critic of education as practiced in the US, at all levels, K-12 and associate/baccalaureate college. We have put our emphasis on students as future workers to a point where education is just job training for the most part. What passes as critical thinking skills and understanding of principles is a thin veneer over mechanical skill training. This even applies to some of the humanities and social sciences.

I have been championing a revision of the approach to education based on teaching systems science as a core. Here is an essay (almost complete) that explains my views on this:

I have lots more where that came from. I and a colleague here at the U. Washington Tacoma are proposing a new degree program (BA/BS) in Systems Science. Anyone interested, let me know and I will forward the proposal. Things move maddeningly slow at UWT!

Comment by Mark Szpakowski on May 23, 2008 at 21:54
I think the Global U meme is in a brooding, deep pregnancy phase. Here's a few other players:

- the Global ELIAS Classroom envisaged by Otto Scharmer (of MIT) and the Presencing Institute. ELIAS: Emerging Leaders for Innovations Across Sectors. The main focus is on composing a global microcosm of players and people across cultures, training the student participants in the skills of deep listening, dialogue, and fast-cycle prototyping, and then throwing them into the hot application phase... [this needs] a supporting infrastructure for all global-sensing, global-presencing, and global-prototyping activities.

- The Shambhala Institute (for Authentic Leadership) (of which my wife is exec director). This runs short-term (up to 10 days) programs around leadership and dealing with critical issues. A fruitful relationship with Scharmer has developed. I'll be attending a module there late June on Creating Dynamic Network Organizations: Principles and Practices fo... led by Tom Hurley, and including some other potentially key players. I would like to join the work of this Global Sensemaking group with that so that greater effectiveness could arise. Don't know how...

- my own Earth Cadet Academy meme involves a Global U component: it's how the Earth Cadets learn, communicate, and teach as part of their role to bring together global knowledge, problem-solving, simulating, and presenting with application of that to specific spots on this earth.

- there's more....
Comment by David Price on May 24, 2008 at 2:35
A powerful idea: and three stimulating contributions.

Reading through the contributions, the phrase that's reverberating is Forster's "Only connect... live in fragments no longer.”

...and, with this in mind, and building on Mark's comment below, I wonder whether one of the most useful sensemaking tasks to which we could apply ourselves as a group in this context might be to begin to map / assemble the graph of people, organisations, and initiatives already converging on a similar understanding?

Perhaps the only thing necessary for the new structure to emerge into existence, is for us all to begin acting as if it already has?
Comment by Jack Park on May 24, 2008 at 4:46
Indeed, David. Start mapping out the territory. I'd much prefer that it happen in some form of map, any form, even an issue map for starters. Just collecting links inside comment posts represents more of the problem, less of the solution, IMHO.
Comment by Mark Szpakowski on May 26, 2008 at 19:51
Here is a pattern that I think applies: the Chinese (Taoist, actually) of Heaven, Earth, and Man. Man, which in various contexts is the Emperor, society, group, joins heaven and earth.

Heaven is the cloud: the Global U, which includes Global Sensemaking U, and all its activities of debate, sensemaking, strategizing, researching, prototyping, learning, teaching.

Man, society, is the people involved in Global U, and involved in joining global knowledge, collaboration, insight, and effective strategies with particular places, problems, issues. This is also the level of leadership.

Earth is what Heaven and Society benefit, and from which they spring. Global U educates the society of knowledge/action warriors, and the object of their care is Earth.

Sensemaking takes place by social groups in Global U, but attention needs to be placed on how that society self-educates and gains wisdom about itself: so that it may act wisely in Global U and for the earth.

Within such a framework (I guess it's a sensemaking framework, and also an intentional framework), I can see making relationships with organizations, individuals, and practices.

I am only seeing a fraction of this picture. I am not, for example, a builder of graphical collaborative debate/argument/sensemaking tools as are several people here. I do have experience with building collaborative frameworks, on both design and implementation levels, and also have experience with the man/society level of social technologies for collective innovation and growth, and offer those to the extent I can, with a sense of urgency that George brought up in another thread.
Comment by Jack Park on May 27, 2008 at 14:31
David's idea, below, of building the map as among the first exercises strikes me as right. +1
Marks Heaven, Earth, and Man makes me dizzy ; it's hard for me to imagine how a tiny group of passionate, well-educated people can create a heaven on Earth... still, +1
We could keep in mind that this idea is also a logical extension of the Knowledge Media Institute; after all, Simon has been chipping away at the idea for a very long time and already has in place quite a powerful infrastructure.'s the funding opportunity that animates my thoughts here.
Comment by Mark Szpakowski on May 27, 2008 at 17:17
I've added to the Debategraph above (btw, clicking the Share button at top right in Debategraph updates the image viewed above).

Jack, re Heaven, that basically refers to the vision level, or the realm of ideas or policies. That's kind of our issue: we have some vision, but need to find a way to have it meet the ground.
Comment by George E. Mobus on June 7, 2008 at 0:55
I've been talking to some of our Global Honors students about getting involved in this GSm effort as student volunteers (to help organize stuff) or possibly for service learning credit through UWT. Anyone have a problem with me inviting some committed students to the network?

It occurs to me that one possible way to get this thing off the ground might be to develop some content regarding the whole area of sense-making and electronic discourse/problem solving, etc.

Later this summer I plan to introduce a curriculum for a BA/BS degree in systems science for UWT. I will be giving thought to how that curriculum might be made distance-learning deliverable. If it looks feasible I'll propose offering some of it through this medium. But then, where would we host it????

What kind of programs could we offer? Degrees? Accreditation???? Lots to think about.
Comment by George E. Mobus on June 8, 2008 at 0:16
I'm having real problems working in the Debategraph map. I thought I added some stuff on curriculum (Systems Science) to the map, but it doesn't show up in my view here! Help!

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