VALUES-BASED TRANSFORMATIVE LEARNING
NJ Institute of Technology (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:It is fairly well clear, that over the last half century, scientific and technological developments, particularly in the areas of data collection, synthesis and deployment - Big Data - are the driving forces of modern history and that such forces, advancing at an exponential pace, is creating an interdependence between individuals and social systems. Long established notions of autocratic leadership and market competition remain intact at most corporations. Such styles and structures serve the interests of monopoly power but ultimately suppress innovation. Indeed, one of the most profound challenges of this era is developing corporate and technological systems that are expressive of the human values of autonomy, empowerment and dignity, rather than destructive to them.
Yet, the understanding of human values does not form the core of the curricula designed to develop contemporary corporate leaders. Instead, the core of such curricula focuses nearly exclusively on the techniques of mastering the thoughts, language and tools of market and political power. At the end of their learning experience, these leaders are prepared to use powerful data techniques to manufacture and then fulfill customer desires but do not even think about whether the enterprise is meeting human needs. But in a world where individuals are interconnected with complex social and ecological systems, the disconnection between technical values and human values pose serious ethical problems, as well as major psychological and institutional barriers to creating sustainable market enterprises.
The Values-Based Transformative Learning curriculum poses the following philosophical question: Can humankind create and maintain a sustainable planet from the bottom up by autonomous, free people or are we destined for continuous destructive conflict perpetuated from the top by autocracy and authoritarianism?
To answer this question, the curriculum integrates subjective and objective teaching modalities, thus incorporating subjective, emotional intelligence with objective, scientific reasoning. It is based on the premise that autonomous learning and insight into self and the natural world, optimizes value. In short, enterprise value becomes inseparable from human values.
Thematically, the topics of the curriculum are chosen by the instructor to focus on individuality and autonomy with the recognition that bureaucratic technique often suppresses empowered learning. Having designed the curriculum, the instructor co-teaches the class with her business executive students, facilitating and mediating when necessary.
Executive students are asked to consider how one can live a life in a post-modern, post-industrial society which is becoming increasingly more bureaucratic with a high degree of personal dignity and integrity. In helping to at least create a framework for students to address the question for themselves, human history and evolutionary biology is addressed to reach a consensus that each person in society is capable of moral agency
Discrete topics include climate change, economic inequality, loss of privacy and freedom of choice, labor relations, minority rights, immigration and state-corporate corruption.
Factual learning takes place through small group exercises that require robust research, analysis and objective reasoning. Individual distance learning assignments encourage subjective reasoning and self-reflection.
Keywords: Leadership, innovation, management, ethics, sustainability, social systems, ecology, free will, autonomy, conformity.