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  • Maria Vandenburg

Co-Initiating: The Start of U.Lab 1x

So I have referenced a few times now that I will be participating in a program called U.Lab. This program is put on by an organization I love called The Presensing Institute. It is a 3-month journey that is designed to facilitate the collective experience through a framework called "Theory U." I came across Theory U while participating in my MBA program at the University of Westminster. I sent myself through the U and the output of it was my final dissertation on Authentic Leadership Development as well as the creation of my very first course: 30 Days of Authenticity.





I will be moving through it this time lead by the people who developed it in the first place and also within the context of an intentional learning community to help facilitate the process.

So what exactly is U.lab? As described on the Presensing Institute's website: U.lab is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that offers a learning infrastructure to as many people as possible to get familiar with the methods and principles of Theory U. Beyond that, it's a platform to catalyze and scale societal renewal through global and local engagement, connection & activation.


U.lab 1x offers a platform that blends new tech tools, social change processes, and multi-local community-building efforts. Today's challenges call for profound innovation across all societal sectors. Rethinking, reinventing, and evolving the way we operate in our society requires a profound shift in how we think, engage, and act (activating the intelligence of the head, heart, and hand).


I have just finished revisiting the orientation materials and wanted to take a second to share them here. Otto Scharmer (who has spent the last 20-30 years bringing Theory U and Awareness-Based-Systems-Change to all of us) opens us with this image and context:

He talks about how this image when understood in its proper context can describe the issue with society and our world as we know it.


On the surface level, Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer define our problems in terms of three main divides:

🌍 Ecological Divide: causing us to believe that we are separate from nature. This results in is the fact that collectively as a planet we are currently using 1.5 more resources than we have the power to regenerate as a planet (Leading from the Emergent Future, Scharmer & Kaufer, 2013)


👫 Social Divide: causing us to believe that we are separate from one another, resulting in things like the fact that in the U.S. the top 1% has greater collective wealth than the entire bottom 90% (Leading from the Emergent Future, Scharmer & Kaufer, 2013)


🤷🏻‍♀️ Spiritual Divide: causing us to believe that we are separate from our Authentic Self (or our higher self as I like to call it).


Scharmer uses the ice-berg model to describe the larger issue, that the symptoms do not address the root cause which is not the divides themselves, nor the structures that we have in place that facilitate them. But, as the image above suggests, it's our paradigm of thought and the source of this thought that creates the reality and world we live in.


So how do we bring about change and create and live in a world we would like to live in? We start to understand the system that we have in place by understanding ourselves. This is one of the things I love the most about the Presensing Institutes work, it's not about affecting change by something "out there," it really is up to each and every one us to sense ourselves.


So what does this mean? It means that in order to truly change society and the world, we need to start with ourselves, if we want to change the system (i.e. the ecological divide, the social divide and the spiritual divide) we need to embody the change that we want to see.


Scharmer believes we always have the ability to tap into two different qualities of time. He states that we are living in the age of disruption where our future is different than the past and the current moment. We know a lot about our current situation (i.e. covid-19 and the failings of society around us on all levels), but less about our emergent future and even less about how to move between the two.


So that's what we will be spending the next three months doing, intentionally tapping into our highest future possibilities to go through this process:



I realize I am introducing a lot of ideas at this point so I will stop at this point for now, but will plan on documenting and sharing my own individual thoughts as I move through this collective experience with the Presensing Institute and with you.


Thanks as always for taking the time to tune in, more to come! ❤️

© 2020 by Maria Vandenburg