Gaia U and the New Paradigm of Research
I am currently in the Master's Degree program at Gaia University, an online self-directed action learning university. Many people have questioned why I am doing this. Why spend so much money on a program that isn't typically accredited? What are you getting out of it? I see Gaia University as an important experiment in higher education. I am more than happy to support those who are dedicated to working on it. Here is why I think it is important...
Our current educational system is predicated on a predict-and-control paradigm. Any research that is done must strictly follow the scientific method, reducing complex systems into their individual parts. Data is not considered valid unless it is replicable. As a result, the only data that we have is about components of complex systems, taken out of context. Unfortunately, reality does not work this way. When you take an element, especially a living thing, out of a system and put it in a box, it does not behave the same way that it does in it's natural environment. In fact, living things behave differently in each system, and over time. This is called "nature".
What we have created from this way of thinking is a natural catastrophe. Agriculture is destroying the environment, education is dumbing kids down, economics is destroying the economy, and health sciences are making people sick. The thing is, we cannot fix these problems using the same type of thinking that created them. We need an epistemic (knowledge creating) community that studies complex systems in context.
Healthy systems cannot be created using predict and control. They must be created using integrative, evolutionary processes. A researcher creates an initial experiment, records data, then changes the experiment based on that data, records more data, then changes the experiment again and so on. This will produce information that cannot be exactly replicated, but will help others find a starting point and processes to develop their own emergent systems.
We need a system for higher education that supports this. It must be well organized and the knowledge created accessible and navigable to the general public. Gaia University is on the way to figuring this out. I also appreciate that Gaia U supports people in doing their own projects. Many people at Gaia U don't concoct projects for their degree. They frame the projects that they would be doing whether or not they were in school to the standards of the epistemic community. I am finding it very useful on my path to creating an incubator for regenerative enterprises. It gives me peer feedback and standards for more rigor in my experiments. If you would like to know more about Gaia U visit them at http://gaiauniversity.org or email me at jacki.saorsail (at) gmail.com.