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Collaboration with the Santa Fe Institute

Complexity Studies and Learning

The Learning Development Institute (LDI) collaborates with the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on the development of a transdisciplinary focus area on 'Learning in the Perspective of Complexity.' This collaborative initiative emerges from work undertaken by LDI President Jan Visser as a Researcher in Residence at the Santa Fe Institute from October 29 to November 17, 2000. During that period, a seminar was held at SFI on November 10, 2000, on the topic of the collaborative initiative. Currently, a paper by Visser on 'Complex Cognition: Factors that Shape the Learning Landscape' is under preparation. It will be added to this site in due course. At this stage we are interested in identifying researchers and practitioners who see their work as related to the above transdisciplinary concern and who wish to contribute to developing the focus area.

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Information on the Santa Fe Institute

Information on SFI is available at http://www.santafe.edu. Information about SFI's research can be found at http://www.santafe.edu/sfi/indexResearch.html.

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Seminar on 'Learning in the Perspective of Complexity'

Below follows a description of the Seminar on 'Learning in the Perspective of Complexity' conducted at SFI on Friday, November 10, 2000.

Title: "Learning in the Perspective of Complexity"

Speaker: Jan Visser

Affiliation: Learning Development Institute (LDI - http://www.learndev.org). LDI emerged from UNESCO's program on Learning Without Frontiers (http://www.unesco.org/education/lwf). Jan Visser is President of LDI. In his previous incarnation he was UNESCO Director for Learning Without Frontiers, a global transdisciplinary initiative.

Abstract: Today's world calls for new visions of learning and the re-examination of the conditions that promote and facilitate it. The seminar will explore human learning as a multifaceted and ubiquitous phenomenon, unrestricted by the parameters of the instructional context to which traditional thinking tends to confine it. Moreover, learning will be taken to represent a dimension of the behavior not only of individuals, but also of social entities (groups of individuals or of smaller social entities that share a purpose). To take an even more comprehensive view of the learning landscape, one must recognize that, while learning does change things in the heads of people, its exclusive identification with what happens inside of us is too narrow a vision. It is increasingly being recognized that learning is essentially a dialogical process and that cognition is best looked upon as distributed, in addition to whatever may reside in the heads of individuals. Thus, interaction among individuals and social entities at different levels of complex organization becomes part of the equation. Consequently, the learning landscape takes on the characteristics of an ecology. Within this context, the question why people and social entities learn is an important one. Learning is of prime importance to allow humans - individually and at the different levels at which they organize themselves socially - to interact constructively with change.

The aim of the seminar is to critically examine the above statement and to discuss its implications for research. Of particular interest is the question how a research focus area might be created in SFI that would both accommodate and promote the development of a broadened, transdisciplinary vision of learning and that would inspire the development of a practice of learning rooted in the reality of human development appropriate for the conditions of our time. A related question concerns how current research in SFI might intersect with the
above interest.

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Slide series

A series of slides was used to support the discussion generated during the above seminar on 'Learning in the Perspective of Complexity'.

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Call for Participation and Expression of Interest

We are interested in identifying researchers and practitioners whose work can contribute to developing the transdisciplinary focus area mentioned above. If you are interested in being kept informed about developments or feel your work and interests find a relevant place within the framework of 'Learning in the Perspective of Complexity,' please write to ldi@learndev.org, using 'Complex Cognition' as a subject line.

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