New Online Course: Transdisciplinary and Transformative Practices in Social Change

Event Type: 
Event Date & Time: 
October 16th to November 12th, 2016


Transdisciplinary and Transformative Practices in Social Change:
Curate your approach to meet the complexity of global issues



Course design:
The course is designed in four one-week long modules.

Readings: On Monday, readings will be given out as well as an overview for the week for you to begin thinking about.

Concall, live or recorded: Tuesday, we will hold a concall, that will be recorded in case you can’t make it in real-time. That concall serves as a way to introduce the course material with a short lecture and presentation, with the last half of the call for questions and answers and dialogue among course-participants.

Assignment and Discussion: The remainder of the week will include one assignment, usually with both a contemplative inquiry as well as an action component to apply learning, and then with online discussion with questions pertinent to the week’s topic. The discussion is asynchronous, so you can jump in and participate whenever works for you.

Mentoring: You can set up an hour one-on-one call with one of our faculty, depending who would be most appropriate for your needs. This gives you a chance to move the needle on an aspect of your projects or even on aspects of your own skills as a practitioner. Mentors are invaluable to advance and amplify your own expertise, and / or to show you parts of you that even the best self-reflection cannot see.

Final project: Sometimes we humans need some scaffolding to pull the pieces of an idea together into a fully formed project. That is, even the most creative river still needs banks! The course provides those banks, and this is a chance to advance an idea from the preliminary cascade of creativity into a crystallized form. Produce this in whatever way you wish (we can help you select the format!), such as a essay, a proposal, a workshop curriculum, and so forth. We will read it and offer feedback to help you hone this work as best you can.

The course runs from October 16th to November 12th.

In this introductory pilot course, participants will learn the fundamentals of a transdisciplinary approach to social change and international development. Drawing extensively on Ken Wilber’s integral theory, we will explore how integral theory can be used as mechanism of sustainable change. Participants will also learn how to apply these principles to a wide variety of situations in both your personal and professional lives. In this way, this course will help you better position yourself in an increasingly complex world with multiple global narratives, and will help you better analyze, strategize and engage ‘wicked’ problems--problems that continue to evade single-discipline, single-sector approaches. Participants are encouraged to bring their projects and use this course as an innovation lab for peer support and cultivation of group insights.


At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the fundamentals of integral theory, and why it is needed when working in complexity;
  • Understand the role that interiority plays in social change and sustainability work;
  • Communicate the value of experiential exercises and facilitate some basic awareness exercises with a group.
  • Analyze projects through integral lens to find the gaps and the flow-points;
  • Incubate your project ideas and professional goals;
  • Identify your own strengths and challenges, as well as personal purpose, as a practitioner.


  • International development professionals who want to level-up their impact and deepen their engagement;
  • Integral theorists and/or holistic thinkers who yearn to bring their understanding of theory into application, and seek a learning community and mentoring support in which to do so;
  • Social change agents who are seeking a more comprehensive response to the complexity of issues today;
  • Social change agents who are working at any scale (community, provincial, national, or international) for whom global issues intersect/affect the themes that they focus on;
  • Community development practitioners or social workers working nationally or overseas;
  • Consultants or business people working in organizational development in globalized contexts;
  • Consultants or staff working in the UN system, in development agencies, or in development banks;
  • Coaches who work (or want to work) more in the social development field;
  • Graduates from university programs who are looking for a way segue their studies to real practice in the world;
  • Practitioners of the healing arts (therapy, counselling, yoga, acupuncture, etc.) who want to carry out their practice in a global context, in which there is no separation between healing of the individual and the collective;
  • If you are unsure if this is for you, contact us and we can discuss!


Esbjörn-Hargens, S. 2009. An overview of integral theory: An all-inclusive framework for the 21st century (Resource Paper No. 1). Boulder, CO: Integral Institute 

Hochachka, G. 2008. “Case Studies in Integral Approaches in International Development: An Integral Research Project” Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, 3(2), pp. 58-108 

O’Brien, K. and G. Hochachka. 2010. “Integral Adaptation To Climate Change” Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, 5(1), pp. 89–102 



Wilber, K. (1996). A brief history of everything. Boston: Shambhala.

Hochachka, G. (2009) Developing Sustainability, Developing the Self. An Integral Approach to International and Community Development. Victoria: Trafford.


Required Readings and Experiential Exercises (action-inquiry) 50%
Forum Discussions/Integration 30%
Final Project and Mentoring 15%
Conference Calls 5%



Week One:

  • Introductions to each other and to the course topic.
  • Problems and Wicked Problems; when does one need a different approach?
  • A quick review of some the cutting-edge tools showing up in change work today, such as Spiral Dynamics, Theory-U (also called U Process), Conscious Full Spectrum, Innovation Labs, Principles from Reinventing Organizations, Principles from Developmental Evaluation
  • Contextualizing why an innovative approach, and an integral approach, is able to meet the complexity of issues in unique, unprecedented ways.
  • Going upstream and going inward: why does upstream thinking matter and why are human interiors important? (and how do we work with them?)
  • Application: Using quadrants as a heuristic to analyze a problem you are currently facing.

Week Two:

  • Taking our integral analysis deeper: levels and interactions between quadrants.
  • Presentation of real-world examples of how this analysis surfaces new insights and responses.
  • Shifting from a sense you are contributing to the development of a community or region, to an appreciation that “everything is already developing”, and learn how that shift affects your role, actions, and self-perception in this work.
  • Learn how to do a Flow Point Analysis
  • Application: Using quadrants and levels, and a new stance of yourself as practitioner, revisit the ‘problem’ you brought last week using a Flow Point Analysis.

Week Three:

  • A focus on social change.
  • Keeping your own project-context in mind, this week we hear from three of our board members who’ve worked extensively in Nepal to tackle integral action in that region, focusing on some specific pressing issues in the country.
  • What aspects of this is relevant to your own project? What can you draw from this in your own case? What questions do you take from this session that you will take to your project when you go?

Week Four:

  • Integration: Making meaning of the content of this course.
  • Situation: Placing this in your life at this point.
  • Clarification: How does this connect with your own purpose as a practitioner and as a change agent?