Conference Design

The conference is conceived to be a temporary learning organization, or system, that is made up of subsystems, and is set within the larger systems surrounding the conference. In this way, the events of the conference are embedded within and serve as a microcosm of larger organizations, systems, and societies in the world. Thus conference events are subject to the same level of complexity, uncertainty, change and ambiguity. 

The conference is organized as a series of events that provide opportunities to learn through the examination of experience in a variety of social contexts. Each event is considered to be a subsystem within the conference-as-a-whole. The events begin and end promptly at the times designated, enabling study of how the boundaries are working to serve the task of the conference. A schedule will be provided at registration. 

Conference events include: 

Opening and Closing Plenaries 

These sessions open and close the conference, providing an opportunity for members and staff to express their thoughts and feelings on crossing the boundary from the outside environment into the conference in the opening plenary, and from the conference back to the outside environment in the closing plenary. 

Institutional Event 

The Institutional Event (IE) takes place during several sessions and provides an opportunity to study institutional forces that arise as different groups form and interact with each other. During the IE, members form their own groups and determine how they want to achieve their learning task. The primary task is to explore the relationships between groups within the conference system. 

Here and Now Small and  Large Study Groups 

Small study groups provide an opportunity to learn about dynamics in small groups that resemble the size of teams and committees. The small study group consists of no more than 12 members with one or two staff consultants. 

In contrast, large study groups provide an opportunity to study the systemic forces and dynamics that arise in large groups, such as groups in society where it is difficult or impossible to know or see every member face- to-face. A team of consultants will work with the large study group. The task of the small and large study groups is to study the conscious and unconscious dynamics of the group as they arise in the moment. 

Role/ Review/ Application Group 

The task of these groups is to provide members the opportunity to reflect on their experiences in conference events, and to begin to apply the learning to life outside the conference.