30 October 2018: 25 Students from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, the so-called “Harvard Business School of Europe”, travelled to Home for Humanity for an intensive three-day module of their university course on “Becoming an Agent of Transformation: Integrated Self- Development”. Offered for the 5th year in a row, this course again attracted a highly motivated and diverse group of 25 students from the University of St. Gallen, coming from Switzerland, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Singapore and India.
The course embarked the 25 students on a transformative journey during which each student identified their life purpose, expanded their human potential, unlocked their creative capacities, harnessed their collective intelligence, and envisioned and enacted their individual and joint contribution to society. Each of the six stages of the learning journey combined transformative theory, exemplary case studies from all continents based on direct experience and partnership, testimonies of transformation and exercises in enactment, and skill development exercises.
Home for Humanity, located in the French Jura mountains, served as a transformative venue for the course. Home for Humanity aspires to bring together all the integral dimensions required to catalyse transformation. It is at once: a Life Sanctuary to nurture one’s purpose and values; an Earth Community, to ground ourselves deeply in nature and community; a Cultural ARTelier to ignite our human and creative potential; an Innovation Academy to generate new knowledge, visions and designs for paradigm change; and an Impact Forum to launch and enact transformative initiatives to contribute to society.
Life Sanctuary:Appropriately, the journey began with the group breaking bread together and and welcoming each other “home” in each person’s native language, thus discovering the spirit of Home for Humanity and creating a shared sense of belonging to this “home”.
Earth Community: The Southern session of “Witnessing Reality to Re-story Relationships to Self, Nature and Community” began with a (rather damp and chilly) brisk walk through nature on the vast and verdant Home for Humanity campus. During the four stages of the walk, students engaged in deep dialogue on core questions to discover one’s purpose, and to re-story one’s relationship to oneself, each other, the opposite gender and community. They were also exposed to some of the leading thinkers and movements in ecology and gender. The Southern session was concluded with a local lunch and brief physical healing session with Veronique Sezanov.
Cultural ART-elier:The Eastern session of “Awakening Possibility to Expand Creative Potential“, included a deep exercise in facing and transforming one’s shadows, and a creative enactment session of one’s role model and their key values, in the Transformation art gallery.
Innovation Academy:The Northern session of “Envisioning Change to Crystallise Visionary Wisdom” included a “World Humanity Caf”‘ to harness collective intelligence on the individual and collective paradigm change the group sought to bring into society to effect systemic change. The fascinating conversations were spiced up by the students’ offerings of their favourite snacks and drinks, distributed on the five coffee tables between which they circulated.
Impact Forum:The Western session on “Enacting Transformation to Embody Integral Impact” marked the grand finale, with the students “enacting transformation” by bringing to life on stage, with immense creativity and conviction, the individual and collective contribution they intend to make to shape our shared future. The students truly astounded themselves and each other by the sheer depth of their creativity in preparing their brilliant performances and statements in just half an hour of preparation time.
In catalysing this journey, Alexander Schieffer and Rama Mani were supported this year by Hildengard Allgaier from Brazil, a Social Impact Coach at the Saïd Business School of the University of Oxford, and Advisor to the Enacting Global Transformation Initiative, and Trans4m Junior FellowChristophe Haesler from Switzerland, who, as a student of the University of St. Gallen, had attended the course in 2016 and now returned as a course assistant. Both Hilden and Christophe brought immense added value to the course: Hilden with her vibrant, insightful presence, provided students with expert coaching and feedback on pursuing their purpose and having social impact through the work they choose; Christophe, with his warm, supportive being, provided peer feedback and encouragement, enriched by his own prior experience of the course and his personal-professional development journey. A special thanks goes to Christine Rossi, who superbly played the role of “Master of Hospitality”.
While every year since 2013, the course has attracted a hugely talented and committed group of students for this course, there is no doubt that this group was exceptional, especially in its cohesiveness and collective spirit. What was noteworthy was their capacity to listen deeply and to mutually support, respect and complement each other, their openness to learn innovative, integral and transformative teaching methodologies, their ability to tap into collective intelligence and create new vocabulary to encapsulate their contributions, and finally, their courage and creativity in preparing brilliant performances in just 30 minutes for their final enactment.
Despite adverse weather conditions, starting with a wind and rain storm on the first day and ending with heavy snowfalls on the final day making access to Home for Humanity a challenge, the students withstood the rigours and joys of this transformative journey with unflagging enthusiasm from arrival through departure.
The 25 students left Home for Humanity radiating their deep fulfilment at the life-changing experience they had undergone. In the final closing circle, each of them expressed their key learnings and the seeds they wished to sow for the future. Each in their way expressed how they felt enriched by a deepened relationship to nature and a profound conviction of the power of community, creativity and collective wisdom to effect personal and societal transformation. What was palpable in their shining faces as they left is that they had awakened to the knowledge that each one of them is an invaluable and unique co-creator of the shared future we need.