Certification Program for Compassionate Systems Master Practitioners
Class of 2023-2024
Facilitated by Peter Senge & Mette Miriam Boell
Starts June 26, 2023 and ends July 19, 2024
Blended course including one face-to-face workshop at The Garrison Institute, New York
Amidst all the signs of breakdown and growing social and ecological imbalance in the world, there is simultaneously a sort of renaissance unfolding in key sectors like education. New ideas and practices – like project-based learning, mindfulness, social-emotional learning, relational competencies, design thinking, systems thinking, maker spaces and flipped classrooms – are taking root around the world. Indeed, these changes may be arising, paradoxically, from the breakdowns themselves, or, more precisely, from ever deepening understanding that the industrial age school model that has spread around the world may be a significant contributing factor to the imbalances and breakdowns. A consensus is building among students and adults alike that the mainstream education model, which mostly ignores our connection to one another and to the larger living systems of our planet in favor of developing technical skills, is woefully inadequate for today, let alone the future in which our students will live. Even national governments are acknowledging publicly that it makes little sense to train people for jobs that may no longer exist by the time they enter the work force.
We believe that facing today’s extraordinary social, ecological and economic imbalances requires an approach to teaching and learning based on the transcendent importance of interconnectedness and that cultivates the innate and multi-faceted systemic intelligence ignored by the industrial-age model of education. For the past several years, we have been working with a global network of education innovators to develop and test a new synthesis of head, heart and hand, the Compassionate Systems Framework, which is part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (MIT J-WEL) initiative.
The project focuses on “cultivating three interconnected facets of 'systems awareness '” for adults and students alike:
- the mind-heart-body system: understanding and developing self,
- immediate social systems of relationships, families, teams and groups and social networks: understanding and caring for others, and
- the larger systems of society, economy and ecology: understanding and caring for our world.
Shifting the system of education requires much more than innovation in the “classroom.” It requires developing an organization climate and culture that
- fosters deep aspiration and ongoing reflection and learning,
- develops leaders at all levels (classroom, school, school system, community) adept at integrating the inner and outer dimensions of systems awareness, and
- engages diverse stakeholders in building shared visions and shared responsibility for change.
This is true for schools, larger administrative structures like school districts and education departments or ministries, and for community-based organizations working with students and young people outside of school.
This initiative has now reached a point where its continued expansion depends on developing master practitioners – teachers, administrators, students, local stakeholders – who can shepherd its continued growth locally and globally, as well as better understand how this capacity building can become coherent and self-sustaining in diverse cultural and organizational contexts. This is the purpose of our certification program.
 The term systems awareness refers to the orientation which combines systems thinking and systems sensing. Whereas “systems thinking” points to a set of skills associated with analytical and conceptual capacities for using specific tools and practices to understand complex interdependent phenomena, “system sensing” is about our intuitive understanding of these complex interdependencies.