Context Institute’s current central focus is something we call the Foundation Stones Project. It is our response to the core challenge of our times: to bring our cultures into sync with the 21st century reality around us.
It has come into being as we’ve watched people of good will get stymied again and again by old ways of thinking and cultural blind-spots as they try to build toward the better future they sense is possible. We would like to help them — and you — get past those hurdles.
The “Foundation Stones” are seven essential topic areas for understanding our world and ourselves. We see them as the bedrock underlying the whole-system pathways that can lead us to a thriving sustainable planetary future. We call them Foundation Stones because we feel they are solid, strong and worthy of building on.
This page provides an overview of the seven stones. Over the coming months and years we will be expanding this section into a library of articles, videos and interactive graphics we will be creating for each of these areas.
- Issue addressed: Where are we (humanity) in the flow of history?
- Core concept: We are in the midst (going back a few hundred years and likely continuing at least through the 21st century) of a cultural transition as deep as the shift out of hunting and gathering and into agriculture and cities that took place five to ten thousand years ago. We are moving from the Empire Era to the Planetary Era.
- Rests on the ground of: History, future studies, anthropology, archeology, global modeling, global trend analysis.
- Supports: Understanding current events in a bigger context and seeing the leverage points for constructive change.
- Issue addressed: What conceptual tools do we need to understand culture and how to change it?
- Core concept: Culture is a dynamic, evolving interface between our innate human nature and the wider world. To adequately understand this dynamic interface we need basic understandings of the mind and of systems.
- Rests on the ground of: Systems theory, neuroscience, anthropology, psychology and additional social sciences.
- Supports: Making the shift into a Planetary Era perspective and becoming an effective agent of constructive cultural change.
Articles for Stone 2: Working Memory, The Dynamic Life of Long-Term Memory, Culture As Interface, The Human Operating System, The Burden And The Gift Of Culture, Two Essential Literacies, Meet Your Mind – Introduction
Related In Context articles: Woven throughout many articles such as System Dynamics Meets The Press.
- Issue addressed: How connected are we (as human beings) to each other and to the rest of life?
- Core concept: We are more interconnected — physically, socially, psychologically and in other ways — than modern Western culture understands or acknowledges.
- Rests on the ground of: Social psychology, history of science, quantum physics, parapsychology, many religious/spiritual traditions from around the world.
- Supports: A deeper understanding of human nature, behavior, and potential; better cross-cultural understanding.
- Issue addressed: Meaning and purpose in life.
- Core concept: It is all about expressing love and creativity and expanding one’s ability to express love and creativity.
- Rests on the ground of: The world’s spiritual, religious, and philosophical traditions; depth psychology.
- Supports: Living with meaning, satisfaction, and inner harmony.
Related In Context article: The Garden
- Issue addressed: Managing the practical aspects of our lives.
- Core concept: We need a more whole understanding of real-world economics. For example, there is a necessary flow of goods and services within and among 1) households, 2) organizations, and 3) nature, only some of which involve money, yet we need to include them all to achieve true economic success.
- Rests on the ground of: Systems theory, conventional economics, ecological economics, and related disciplines.
- Supports: Smarter economic strategies for households and organizations; overall economic success for humanity within the constraints of a finite planet.
- Issue addressed: Decision-making for groups of all sizes including households, businesses and governments.
- Core concept: The best decisions 1) stand the test of time well, 2) are broadly supported within the group, and 3) are timely. There are many methods to get to these outcomes (including fresh ones made possible by new technologies); which one is best depends on the context.
- Rests on the ground of: Group process studies, organizational development, law, political science.
- Supports: Flexible, context-appropriate, and more effective decision-making.
- Issue addressed: How best to facilitate change?
- Core concept: “Change” comes in many different kinds and stages. The key to effectiveness is matching the right strategy with the particular kind and stage you are dealing with.
- Rests on the ground of: Organizational development, study of the diffusion of innovations, depth psychology.
- Supports: Graceful, constructive, wise and timely change capable of shaping history.
Each stone offers much that is helpful to our times, but their full value only emerges as we tie them together and they draw strength from each other:
- What Time Is It? introduces us to the core challenges and opportunities we face in the 21st century, and invites us to make the journey from being part of the problem to being part of the solution, from the mindset of the Empire Era to the mindset of the Planetary Era.
- Tools For The Journey equips us with the essential metaphors and concepts we need as we work on making the shift into a Planetary Era perspective.
- How Connected Are We? addresses one of the core misconceptions of the Empire Era.
- Living As A Whole Being explores the deep, personal, inner aspects of our nature and being.
- Whole-system Economics weaves together threads from all of the previous four Stones to address how we might approach our practical, daily, outer existence in the Planetary Era.
- Whole-system Governance addresses the practical means of collaboration that will be needed to allow Planetary Era cultures to thrive.
- Street Smarts For Change Agents circles back to each one of us from these big-picture visions and addresses the question of “what can I do to make a real difference — to make history?”
If you would like to join us as we build the Foundation Stones, please subscribe to CI News using the form in the upper right column so that we can keep you up-to-date.