At Leadership Calgary, we have a transformational vision, not naively formed, but one that is based on the reality of 21st century challenges and what it will take to meet them. We start with the basic fact that whatever other communities, sectors, organizations and kinship groups we belong to, we all belong to two foundational communities – life and humanity. This is not news of course, thought leaders have been saying as much for more than 2500 years. But the implications of this fact and the responsibilities for learning, caring and creative action that follow from it have not been successfully mapped out and embedded in any culture – yet. This is the frontier we are working on.
Until recent history we, as a species, didn’t have to understand these things deeply. The consequences of trial and error learning, environmental destruction, the rise and fall of civilizations, pandemics and large-scale failures of humanity such as war and genocide, while devastating, were sufficiently localized to be globally tolerable. This is no longer the case. Globalization and the scale of human activity bring global risks as well as opportunities. As Edwards Deming, the pioneer of quality management put it, “learning is optional; so is survival”.
For the past 50 years we have experienced unparallel technological and economic development, accompanied by a growing chorus of warning voices that our path is not only unsustainable, it isn’t making us happier or more fulfilled, let alone wiser and more responsible. As is always the case with frontiers, the voices we hear cover the full range of human responses to change, risk and uncertainty. We hear those who for one reason or another seek to amplify the stress – the naïve alarmists, doomsday preachers, manipulative speculators and leaders looking to capitalize on fear and uncertainty. We hear a wide range of deniers and ignorers, including those who either refuse or are incapable of acknowledging anything outside their existing habits, interests or world-views. We also hear from those who understand the need to appear to be changing, but are prepared to do so only at a cosmetic level. The voices of disciplined inquiry, history, foresight, human caring, life responsibility, and creative action are also in the mix, but they have a long path to travel and many challenges to survive before they are widely heard. It is this wiser voice and the courage to use it that we seek to nurture and strengthen in the Leadership Calgary program.
We are mapping out the frontiers and dynamics of human progress across disciplines, sectors, cultures and periods of history. We look for the best and worst of human thought, learning and action, and search for common patterns that we can integrate and apply in meeting adaptive challenges at every level of social integration – individual, organization, community, society and culture.
Commerce and economic development are critical parts of this picture, but not the whole. There is a new industrial revolution underway, one that links economics with ecology, social justice, culture, conduct and adaptive human and community development. The complexity of this new terrain requires new ways of thinking, caring, learning and acting, and a deep understanding of what it means to be alive and human. It is a daunting and audacious challenge, but each year more caring, thoughtful people step forward to take it on, and our pool of learning resources and networks grows wider and deeper. Together we are learning to navigate on this frontier. This is good. There is much work to do, and the stakes are high.
Leadership Calgary is a 9 month, intensive program. We are accepting applications for the 2012/ 2013 class until May 17, 2012.
Explore the program through our recruitment events, workshops and book clubs before applying.
For more information about the program, and the application process, please visit our website.