Alexander Laszlo, son of Ervin László, born in Fribourg, Switzerland, received a BA from Haverford College, with a major in International and Comparative Political Science and a minor in Human Physiology. At the University of Pennsylvania he received his MA in History and Sociology of Science, and a PhD in the interdisciplinary field of Science and Technology Policy.
He has been faculty member of both the MBA in Sustainable Business at Bainbridge Graduate Institute and the MBA in Sustainable Management at the Presidio School of Management since the first year of operation of each program. Laszlo now serves as Adjunct Faculty in the MBA in Sustainable Entrepreneurship program of the Green MBA at Dominican University, in the Leadership of Sustainable Systems program at both the Master’s and Doctoral levels at Saybrook Graduate School & Research Center, and on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Center for Advanced Study at the Giordano Bruno GlobalShift University.
He has worked for the UNESCO Regional Office for Science & Technology for Europe, the Italian Electric Power Agency, and the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education. He has held visiting appointments with the London School of Economics and the European University Institute, and has been named a Level I Member of the National Research Academy of Mexico (SNI).
He is on the Editorial Boards of Systems Research & Behavioral Science, World Futures, and Organisational Transformation & Social Change. An active member of several systems science societies, among them Co-Chair of Evolutionary Development SIG at International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS), Alexander Laszlo is author of over fifty journal, book, and encyclopedia publications, with A Field Guide for Evolutionary Leaders forthcoming.
Alexander Laszlo is the recipient of the Gertrude Albert Heller Award, the Sir Geoffrey Vickers Memorial Award, as well as of the Förderpreis Akademischer Klub award of the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, for work in social innovation and sustainable development, and finalist for the 2003 Beyond Gray Pinstripes award of the World Resources Institute and the Aspen Institute for educational work in sustainable business.
He is also Head Instructor of the Dojang At Occidental (the DAO) with over 25 years of experience. He holds a 4th Degree Black Belt in Chung Do Kwan style of Tae Kwon Do and a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Shotokan style of Karate.
1. Can you briefly describe your field of research?
My field of research resides at the nexus of holistic being and transcendent consciousness. Exploring the art and science of systemic thrivability through ways of being that embody relational awareness at this nexus surfaces new ways of curating the emergence of evolutionary potential. This is my inquiry, my process and my life passion.
2. What fascinates you about cybernetics/systems research/system theory?
Relational ways of being require systemic appreciation. Cybernetics/systems research/systems theory shed light on what it means to be a participatory being in the web of relationships of a creative cosmos. The insights these approaches offer for understanding life, creativity, consciousness and the celebratory dynamics of evolution are truly outstanding, and I am fascinated by what they can teach me about how to dance with the process of emergence, how to flow the universe into existence in all that I do and am.
3. Where do you see or would like to see the field heading? What changes would you like to see?
I believe the field needs to move in the direction of greater non-reductionistic approaches to phenomena and events. While the power of the field currently resides in its equal emphasis on analysis and synthesis, to effectively curate emergence that is aligned with the underlying creative consciousness of the cosmos, the systems scientist must take a more holistic approach. This involves embracing and celebrating the non-rational, sacred aspects of all life affirming, future creating and opportunity increasing relationships. It is urgent and important for the field to re-focus on pragmatic ways of fostering a systemic consciousness informed by such an holistic and consciousness-infused orientation. As President-Elect of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS), I intend to dedicate my Presidency during the 2013 cycle of activity to the issue of creating a global systemic sustainability network dedicated to pragmatic exploration of systemic leverage points for emerging a global eco-civilization. The 2013 ISSS Meeting and Conference will be held from 14-19 July in Hài Phòng City and at the Cát Bà Biosphere Reserve of Vietnam, and it will showcase examples of systemic sustainability from around the world, creating a network of scholars and practitioners engaged in projects that harmonize with the evolutionary patterns of life and the life support systems of our planet.
4. What impact does your field of research have on society? What practical application for society does it have? Do you see practical applications in your own life? Can you give examples?
As our species finally breaches the carrying capacity of the planet we call home, we are faced with the perennial challenge: evolve or die. But now the challenge is both global and immediate. We have explored and exhausted the identity of Homo Sapiens sapiens. We must move on, evolve beyond the strategically wise, the rationally refined, the intellectually erudite and the technologically talented. Our patterns of being and becoming now need to match the patterns and processes of ecosystemic meta-stability found in nature and the cosmos at large. For this to happen, we must learn to see ourselves as part of a new narrative — one that places Homo Sapiens in a broader systemic context; that of cosmic evolution. It is important to seek systemic sustainability through appreciation of patterns of ecosystemic thrivability, and we can do this by studying and creating pragmatic models and projects that are based in and generate abundance. There are many examples of such initiatives around the world, though the daily news tends to focus only on disaster and collapse. Even in our day to day lives, wherever we are, if we seek to connect with the patterns of emergence that affirm life and create the systemic conditions that foster thriving, we will become a new species — one that is integrally woven with the story of evolutionary emergence through a well developed cosmic consciousness. Nothing could be more practical, more relevant, or more urgently needed than the cultivation of this consciousness. The holistic approach to systemic and cybernetic phenomena stands to enrich and empower our individual and collective competencies of relational awareness and systemic intelligence. Seeing systemically and aligning our active conscious appreciation of relational dynamics with the passive reality of our systemic interdependence evolves human consciousness. It is precisely this consciousness that is needed to move to the next evolutionary stage of our species.
5. What’s a scholar/writer, whose work inspires you in your own work?
The scholar/writer who has undoubtably influenced me the most is Ervin Laszlo. In fact, I recently published an article called “A systems view of Ervin Laszlo, from one generation to the next: An edited and annotated autobiographical piece” (with a contribution by Christopher Laszlo and incorporation of original material from Ervin Laszlo) in World Futures: The Journal of General Evolution (67:4-5, 2011, pp. 219-243).
Please answer the three questions regarding your responsibility with one of the influencing organizations within the systems movement.
1. What does the Giordano Bruno Global Shift University mean to you?
GBU offers a new pedagogy, new content, and a new experience for those who are interested in becoming evolutionary change agents of the 21st Century. Students experience the power of designing their contribution to a global shift toward a better world through a collaborative process that expands and deepens their consciousness. In doing so, they gain the necessary experience to take on the mantle of an evolutionary change agent. Most contemporary leaders in our world today lack this experience, but GBU graduates won’t. Combining this experience with study of evolutionary systems theory, complex adaptive systems theory and a holistic approach to the dynamics of emergence, students learn about patterns that give rise to new and more complex ways of being and becoming. And by exploring the role of humans in creating complex patterns of relationship with each other and with nature, they learn to embody a lived sense of interdependence and the sacredness of being.
2. Why should other people show interest in the Giordano Bruno Global Shift University? What will they experience or learn?
Anyone who knows that another world is possible — that as Arundhati Roy says, “another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing” — but who is frustrated by the lack of vision, the lack of opportunity, the lack of creative will to reach for, invite and co-create such a world, is ready for GBU. Students engage in a process of “story dwelling” where what they learn is embedded in the story of their life. They compare and contrast how the learning lives in them, in their local communities — wherever they are in the world (since this is a global university) with other members of their immediate cohort of 21 co-learners from other parts of the world. In this way, they discover patters among those aspects of their studies that are particular to their culture and their circumstances and those that are common to others like themselves all around the world. It is truly a pedagogy for local empowerment framed in an understanding of global relevance. There are three short five minute videos on GBU site that address your question directly: the first on the vision of GBU, the second on content offering of GBU, and the third on the educational experience fostered by GBU. You can view them here.
3. What is your current position or responsibility with the Giordano Bruno Global Shift University?
My formal title at the GBU is Director of Evolutionary Learning Initiatives at the Center for Advanced Study. This is the R&D branch of the university where we develop innovative learning approaches to issues of global concern through attention to scientifically informed, spiritually aware, and consciously attuned ways of living.
Please answer the three questions regarding your responsibility with the second organization within the systems movement.
4. What does the Change the Game Initiative mean to you?
CTG is a platform for the empowerment of local initiatives all over the world involving people who want to “move the needle” — to be part of making a difference that makes a difference in emerging a better, more thrivable world. In this sense, it is wonderfully aligned with GBU. Both of CTG and GBU are interested in facing the challenge of emerging a global eco-civilization. But while GBU does this through degree-based educational offerings that are both affordable and accessible to the vast majority of humanity, CTG does it through entrepreneurial programs, projects, and initiatives that bring people into personal contact with each other around new ways of generating abundance, meaning, and well-being in the world. CTG is a catalyst for programs, projects, and networks that generate movement and action through direct engagement with new ways of thinking, of doing, and of being. It is about seeing the world with new eyes — and acting on the insight!
5. Why should other people show interest in the Change the Game Initiative? What will they experience or learn?
Those who question why we do things the way we do, why society runs the way it does, why we live the lives we do, and who wish to explore, to create, to innovate new forms of being and new ways of relating — to ourselves, to each other, to nature and to past and future generations — these are the game changers of our time. CTG provides a platform for them to stand on, and in doing so, brings the game changers of our world together and offers them with a vehicle and a voice to work, play and learn together about creating and inhabiting new organizational forms. These are the forms that create abundance, that affirm life, that promote value exchange and not just the accumulation of economic affluence. CTG is creating the new organizational forms that will inhabit the global eco-civilization of the twenty-first century — and GBU is preparing the citizenry that will emerge the social, spiritual and ecological ways of living necessary to animate them.
6. What is your current position or responsibility with the Change the Game Initiative?
I have the honor and privilege of serving on the International Advisory Board of CTG. In this capacity, I am actively involved in promoting, coordinating, and carrying out a variety of initiatives for the organization, from helping to organize and orchestrate symposia such as the one held in Salzburg, Austria, on ‘The Fundamental Concept of Growth’ in 2010; to guest editing a special double-issue of the international Journal of Organisational Transformation & Social Change with contributions from members of the Change the Game Initiative; to co-sponsoring contributions to a variety of systems related events, including those of the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science, the European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research, the International Federation for Systems Research, and the International Society for the Systems Sciences.