Share & Connect
Alexander Laszlo is co-founder and President of Syntony Quest and former Director of the Doctoral Program in Management at the Graduate School of Business Administration and Leadership (EGADE- ITESM) located in Mexico. He was recently elected President of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS). He has also worked at UNESCO and for the U.S. Department of Education. He has been Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and the European University Institute. In addition to being the author of multiple book and journal articles, he is also a 5th Degree Black Belt in Korean Karate. This is part two of an exclusive Toonari Post interview, find the first part here.
TP: How do you believe that virtual education is transforming the world?
AL: I believe that universities and educational systems which do not keep up to date with current technology enhanced Interactive systems will be left behind. Education should encourage a dynamic play with creating knowledge and not only memorizing what is already known, because memorizing what we already know is not going to provide solutions to the current challenges faced by humanity. These challenges require a new paradigm, a new way of understanding. It’s not about learning and applying the models of last century; we have seen that these models do not work; we need people to develop their own response to their realities in which they live.
This is the purpose of Giordano Bruno; to create perspective. Take Facebook, for example. People use it but mainly for social pursuits. How can we create an education system that works like Facebook in which students share their learning with others and with a group of friends, and so among them discuss, comment, share extra resources and in this way go into an enriching conversation of shared understand on any particular topic?
So really, it’s like creating an education system based on this type of model, which is today one of the most widely used type of interaction. As I say, education systems that don’t use it will stay stuck in the past.
TP: What is the holistic paradigm?
AL: The idea of the holistic paradigm is not seeing the world in a fragmented way. For example, here in California, where I live, I need to see how to get clean water, the same as anyone anywhere else in the world. One solution would be to use all the water that falls from the mountains for irrigation, or we could also get it from our aquifers.
Now, if we don’t proceed with a perspective that considers the impacts of using water-intensive agricultural practices, then we are acting badly. We need to create a solution that allows the aquifers to be restored and regenerated. That’s the holistic way of understanding the secondary and tertiary impacts, and more so to really understand the interdependence of all living systems as the non-living systems, that also sustain life, as is the case of climatic water cycles.
This is the perspective and sensitivity that we want to foster among students, because once we understand that everything is interconnected, we see that nothing is only a problem from a technical perspective, as this type of thinking usually creates more problems [than] it resolves. So the idea is to create a system of solutions, not just a one-dimensional solution that could be purely technological or economic. Really, a set of solutions involves seeing and understanding dynamic and interactive patterns; once you understand a little bit and have developed sensitivity for seeing how these complex adaptive systems are intertwined with each other, you can start creating a new dialogue with nature, society, future generations, our ancestors and yourself. In this way, we create a flow of abundance without making the mistake of trying to maximize our return on investment, which is a way of addressing a context in only a myopic way.
TP: Recently you have been elected President of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS). What are your expectations in this new position?
AL: This organization was founded in 1954 and now has had a total of 56 annual conferences. My job as President is to create an international event that represents the emerging direction of systems science, which also includes human science.
I have chosen a theme for this year which is aimed at moving toward a systemic consciousness that heightens and draws upon relational intelligence. So my purpose is to stimulate a more dedicated development of relational intelligence, which must not only be empathetic and compassionate to others, but also embody ways of being interactive and interconnected with all living systems on this planet.
TP: How can you handle so many projects at the same time?
AL: I have several clones (laughs). My secret is that I have excellent teams, and this is what I want to bring to both the Giordano Bruno University and the ISSS. In both cases, we want to create a thrivable world of collaborative communities. Alone, I just can’t achieve all these goals, but luckily the people I work with are much competent than me, which ensures the success of all these projects.