| | |

Leading from the future as it emerges – U-lab course

Jim and I have recently become interested in taking a course called U-lab and fortunately the course is going to happen in Tavira.
How cool is that?

The U-lab course created by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is being rolled out across Portugal beginning in April 2018 and Tavira is on the list for it to be delivered in English, (in other towns it will be in Portuguese). The course explores leadership challenges through the lens of three divides, an ecological divide – separation between self and nature, social divide – separation between us and them, spiritual divide – separation between self and self (who I am today and my potential future self).

I am curious because the blurb suggests it is a way to be even more connected to your local community, village, town or city in terms of wellbeing for all.

As I have mostly given up on watching the news, I thought this would be a good way to come up with collective ideas for resolving local and global frustrations within a course structure. But I think it is much more than that.

The syllabus says some of the learning will be:

  • The leadership knowledge that matters most: self-knowledge
  • Capacities of deep listening, precise observation, and dialogue
  • Practices for creating institutional innovations that generate wellbeing in society

I read that the U.Lab approach is a “hybrid learning platform which democratises access to education globally,” while also eliminating many of the major criticisms of online learning, by placing the learning within the community. Sounds a bit techie, but what it means is that people will meet together to do the course and will watch some videos at home to prepare each week. Journaling is involved. I love journaling, so a weekly practice with some questions to think about is something that will stretch me a little. The added value of working together as a group over 14 weeks means the shared learning is bedded into the local relationships and context. Getting to know more local people in the Tavira region and even across Portugal is something I want to do. I love hearing people’s stories, learning about their hopes and finding a deeper connection.


The aim of the course is to shift from an “ego-based approach to an eco-system multi-stakeholder paradigm.” This means moving away from single silo approaches (working to one agenda and fighting to get it addressed) and ego-based thinking and responses, to a more holistic systems view that operates via a heightened awareness of what may be possible.

The process used is ‘Presencing.’ What this means is having an open mind, developing the ability to suspend old habits of judgment—to see with fresh eyes. Having an open heart with the capacity to empathise and to look at a situation through the eyes of somebody else. An open will, this is the capacity to let go of the old and let in the new.

Nuno Da Silva is faciliating the course. It will also run in Portuguese in Loulé, Faro, Portimão, and Lisbon.

I have met Nuno and I also went to the public information event in Tavira this week. His facilitation skills are honed and he creates a safe space to explore a lot of necessary ideas and hopes. Nuno worked for the World Bank in East Timor and brings a host of experience alongside his recent work with RECIFE, Transition, In Loco and other Associations. He is the Portugal Transition hub trainer.

He said, “This process is an entry point to a longer journey and emerging global network, both of which people have the opportunity to join after completing this course. The course in English in Tavira begins on Wednesday 11 April 2018 from 10:30 to 13:00. It lasts for 14 weeks. The homework is 1-2 hours a week. Over that period a stronger community group will develop to carry on building closer relationships and prototypes for the future.”

I asked him who should take the course and he said, “This course is for everyone who wants to be part of a better future. It has been developed by MIT and hundreds of thousands of people are now going through the process. Locals and ex-pats are working alone or with Associations, business and local government to create change while building the capacity of their towns to become resilient for all. It will enhance leadership skills and deepen relationships within the local community. Rather than disconnected communities of interest, arts, health, environment, the course will provide ways to network and allow new relationships. Quality of thinking is explored and skills and tools are developed to not only build an individual or a group’s capacity to be even more engaged within the local community, but it will also allow individuals to take a journey to create change within themselves.”

If you want to know more, I can answer any general questions. Contact me

NB: The course in Lisbon and the online course together with the 4 courses in Algarve are part of an experience called Ripples of the New Experiment which is hosted by Recife, Projeto Oxigenio and Sense.lab. The team is composed of Nuno Da Silva, Priscila Soares, Magda Serpa, Allan Sousa and Paulo Carvalho.

The course in Tavira is supported by REconomia.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *