Friday, June 25, 2010

Participating with the Universe - Valerie Louis

For my dissertation work, I explored how people could participate with their organization's energy system to create change.  Quantum physics has postulated that our world is a vast sea of energy that surrounds us.  Some have asserted that this energy holds information that can be accessed to help inform our lives.  I started with quantum physics and my understanding of the human energy field to explore participating with an organization's energy.  When I first began this exploration, I felt very alone in the literature.  I saw myself as pushing the boundary of participation and though others had done the same - my immediate academic environment was somewhat skeptical of this worldview.  You can imagine my sense of community as I re-read the Introduction to the Handbook of action research, First ed. and saw front and center Reason and Bradbury's discussion of the participatory worldview.  What I discovered is that there is a discussion in AR using quantum physics to explore participating with the world.  McNiff (1999) embraces “new science descriptions of space that it is not a vast emptiness in which planets and stars exist in remote isolation from each other” (p. 47). Reason (2007) links people to the larger cosmos through a world that “senses us” at the same time that we are “sensing the world” (p. 37).  In addition, he embraces that our minds are connected to the “amorphous primordial data of the universe” and therefore humans “co-create with the universe” (Reason, 1993, p. 275).
            This week I received via email a talk that Peter Reason gave about participating with the world.  He strongly asserts that humans are not separate from the planet – that we are not “outsiders to the planet.”  Of course, if we in the West continue to think of the world as a machine, with all of its separate parts we will continue to be outsiders.  But how does it shift your thinking to think of yourself as an insider?  What if, by the nature of the energetic universe you are very much an insider, able to partner with your organization, the tree in your yard, and the cosmos?  How would this shift your definition of participation?  And therefore shift your actions?  What if you could dialogue with the “things” around you that you think are unable to participate? 
            Reading Peter Reason’s talk this week has helped me re-engage my dissertation work. It has affirmed for me that I am part of a continuing discussion – maybe one that is on the fringe of AR, but I seem to be in respectable company.  And as I read of Reason’s experiences with Medicine wheel and other spiritual teachings (a connection I share), I see the fringe as the ability to bring many worlds together to deepen the conversation and push the concept of participation further into the unknown and the disengaged.  I appreciate Peter Reason’s ability to speak openly about all of his experiences – his willingness to move a “private story” out into the public arena.  It is a bold step, much like Bache’s (2008) discussion of his participation with his institution that I admire and strive for. 

Bache, C. (2008). The living classroom: Teaching and collective consciousness. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

McNiff, J. (1999). Action research, a methodology of care. In U. M. Collins & J. McNiff (Eds.), Rethinking pastoral care (pp. 43-51). New York: Routledge.

Reason, P. (1993). Reflections on sacred experience and sacred science. Journal of Management Inquiry, 2(3), 273-283.
Reason, P. (2007). Education for ecology. Management Learning, 38(1), 27-44.

Reason, P., & Bradbury, H. (2001). Introduction: Inquiry and participation in search of a world worthy of human aspiration. In P. Reason & H. Bradbury (Eds.), Handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice (First ed., pp. 1-14). Thousands, CA: Sage Publications.

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