u.school and post-bubble economics

Saturday, May 28th, 2011 | Uncategorized

We are living in an age of bursting bubbles. The first bubble to burst was the global financial market in 2008. The next bubble is expanding as we speak and is going to explode under the headline of the food security crisis (a mixture of food shortages, water shortages, soil erosion, peak oil, biofuel, and unsustainable farming practices). What do the financial and the food/soil bubbles have in common? Their common denominator is that they extract an unreasonable amount in the present while compromising the future capacity of the system to regenerate itself. This behavior externalizes the real costs to the poor (who won’t be able to pay the resulting higher prices) and to future generations (who will be left to clean up the mess we create).

Another common element is that both of these bubbles or boom-to-bust cycles are closely linked to a third bubble that has been in the making for a long time: the bubble of business schools and conventional economic thought. The essence of the old economic thinking is its blindness to social and ecological “externalities.” Both the financial and agricultural bubbles would have been unthinkable without modern economic thought and its whole set of management tools. It’s time to seed the beginnings of a new, post-bubble era of economics and management practice.

My colleagues and I are trying to contribute to post-bubble economics and management practices in two ways: by writing a book on the mindful transformation of capitalism, and by initiating a project we are calling the u.school, which would convene key innovators and leading institutions from business, civil society, and government around a platform for creating profound societal innovation and building personal and institutional capacity. Here is a link to a first concept paper on that initiative. Let us know what you think!


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14 Comments to u.school and post-bubble economics

Pablo Reyes
May 28, 2011

I have been linking Entrepreneurship and consiousness for a few years.
It´s necesary to start building capacities in the new generations to make a new way of thinking-being in the world.
Humanity will be thankfull for that enterprise

Paul Engel
May 29, 2011

Hi Otto,
Keep up the good work…
Warm regards,
Paul (Marbach 2009)

Carsten Ohm
May 29, 2011

Wonderfull Otto!
The U School – finally !
Looking forward to read and understand and explorer it whole In Boston In October.

Ralf Lippold
May 30, 2011

Thank you Otto for u.school!

Concerning your questions on top my two cents to the story are:

1. Networking & transparency is absent in the bubble economy (only “closed circles” drive the game, they of course are transparent within themselves)

2. The future of u.school lies within the network power that emerges across boundaries and the following transparency. Especially the practice of doing the “ladder of inference/ abstraction” across diverse fields of interests and amongst leaders, students, citizens, foreigners, … and creating dialogue will drive a positive future.

For the last seven months now I have been following the local opera house and its role it plays in the transformation. Visiting roughly forty performances from ballet, opera, to prize concerts and radio interviews, I can barely hold myself back in saying:

this is just another kind of u.school – it’s o.school (opera.school)

Cheers from Dresden

PS.: What do others think of that idea? It is not an old one, http://biosaxony.com/en/biosaxony/news/zukunft-heute-future-today-in-the-semper-opera-dresden

Erik Mathijs
May 30, 2011

Hi Otto,

With a group of dedicated people, I am taking an initiative in Flanders (Belgium) with the intention to perform a deep systems analysis with multiple stakeholders. What are the root causes of the malfunctioning of our food system? What are the patterns of unsustainability that persist?

With another group of European researchers, I was involved in writing a foresight report for the European Commission in which we have referred to the new emerging paradigm as the Sufficiency Narrative as opposed to the Productivity or Growth Narrative. It is a big step forward in getting reform on the European agenda, for words create worlds!

The report can be downloaded here:


I wonder how we can align these efforts with those of the u.school?

Kind regards,

Erik Mathijs

Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Leuven University

Ralf Lippold
June 1, 2011

From next Monday on there will be http://www.amplifyfestival.com.au/about in Sydney. It is just another puzzle piece in the change /chance journey of the world. I will be there blogging and tweeting live. Learning for my life and others. Are you interested in joining in the conversation to amplify the message Otto has sent already on u.school? Would be rather cool.

Perhaps even some who read this are down under as well. Happy to meet and talk in person (or as always via the Web).

June 14, 2011

I am creating a blog to try to publicize my idea of how to get our country going in a better direction. Please take a look: http://annemendenhall.posterous.com. Read the main article first if possible.

Matt Dockerty
June 14, 2011

Bravo Otto! Thank you for the ground breaking work.

I liked the innovation lab concept, sounds sustainable and scaleable. Particularly interested in the Banking lab: to me it feels like the intent here could be to more consciously facilitate movement of trade and resources/support to initiatives/areas where they are most needed by the future.

I was curious about the questions you are currently holding after writing this? For me, I wondered how I could get involved, and whether the Global Classroom in October provides a forum for envisioning future possibilities/outcomes for U-school.


Anne Mendenhall
June 15, 2011

Just after leaving my blog address yesterday, I changed it. The new address is http://truthisbest.posterous.com. I hope you will check it out and share comments.

June 24, 2011

Thank you Otto
Are you familiar with Rudolf Steiners ideas he put forth after the chaos of WWI. I think they are very applicable today.

Ralf Lippold
June 29, 2011

Sitting here in Bruxelles in a very vivid conference around internet of things, I really think about presencing and the shift of the “field” here in the room and how it could be elegantly combined to co-create the future we are eager to create.

What do others think? What may be the driver to bring the collective passive knowledge into action (around the globe across boundaries)?

Ralf Lippold
July 30, 2011

Even though the activity here is quite there probably lots going on around this topic. Here it is still my passion to create something like a u.school (a blended version of http://singularityu.org, http://presencing.com and Team Academy) in Dresden.

Right now I look for supporters to make http://bit.ly/oxDy7f (#InnoBay – an exploration visit to the Silicon Valley) – perhaps you have an idea on how to raise the necessary fund to get travels going. Please see embedded blog of that website.

For more background on why I am so passionate about it listen to my 30 min interview with Daryl Cook http://darylcook.com/2011/07/gathering-’11-podcast-04-—-interview-with-ralf-lippold/

martin siesta
August 13, 2011

This cross discipline approach using deep listening ,linking local communites of practice to illuminate what we know, what we don’t know, what our limiting beliefs are seems essential. Of course its already happening in many places, but adding this degree of framing will help advance and, I believe, increase more effective prototyping and inspire more courage


Martin Siesta, the Berkana Institute

Ralf Lippold
September 26, 2011

Hello Martin, Thanks a lot for your thoughts. Many initiatives and people already active, yet the suitable platform to tie the knowledge and action together has not been developed. Or have I been missing something? Maybe it is a combined Google+/Facebook?

What kind of prototype would you, Martin, be open to co-create across distance (I am based in Dresden, Germany)?

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