Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The urban village as a living system: Building a generative and caring local economy and society through strategic collaboration
by Joseph, Brett R., Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2016, 404; 10131772
Abstract (Summary)

This research investigated cross-sector collaboration as ideal-seeking social action within the context of a stakeholder-led initiative to foster place-based community revitalization in the City of Cleveland, Ohio, USA. It engaged organizational leaders and citizen activists to develop and refine the praxis of design conversation inspired by an appreciative awareness of values and qualities found in communities as thriving, living systems. Within a framework of community action research (CAR) methodology, the study engaged a small group of community leaders to create a learning space and relational field enabling them to acquire knowledge and understanding in the manner of an evolutionary learning community. Through facilitated design inquiry, participants sought to understand their communities as living socio-ecological systems; evolving purposefully within a context of embedded cultural and institutional influences.

The group discourse combined generative and strategic dialogue with other co-creative inquiry practices to embody dynamic and purposeful characteristics of an evolutionary guidance system. Through design conversation in both small group and community practice settings, participants worked to transform habitual patterns of thinking and shift awareness towards appreciative qualities of communities as purposeful social systems; thereby building collective evolutionary competencies that enable self-organization and unfolding of human evolutionary potentials at the levels of self, organization, community, and society.

The study results were summarized from participant journaling and transcribed conversations, and interpreted through critical hermeneutic analysis and systemic modelling. The results demonstrate, at least tentatively, how designing conversation as a strategic approach to community revitalization praxis enabled participants to coalesce as a dynamic learning community, expressing evolutionary consciousness and competency and developing a more integral, shared understanding of Cleveland’s communities as continuously evolving and appreciatively self-guided, living systems. These results show how strategically facilitated conversation within a framework of evolutionary systems design enabled community stakeholders in Cleveland to utilize conversation as purposeful social action to build appreciative awareness of their differences and understanding of their collective human potentials as the conscious embodiment of values and qualities found in healthy, resilient communities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Southern, Nancy
Commitee: Laszlo, Kathia, Metcalf, Gary
School: Saybrook University
Department: Organizational Systems
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Sustainability, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Action research, Community, Cross-sector collaboration, Design conversation, Evolutionary learning, Social systems
Publication Number: 10131772
ISBN: 9781339895437
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