UTEP Workshop to Focus on Productivity Theory of Liberating Structures
Last Updated on March 06, 2020 at 12:00 AM
Originally published March 06, 2020
By UC Staff
Examples of methods experts use to address complex challenges in halls of power throughout the world will be part of a Liberating Structures Workshop offered from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, 2020 in the Blumberg Auditorium on the first floor of the University Library.
About 75 individuals who represent UTEP, El Paso Community College and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, as well as business leaders, attorneys, community advocates and seven members of Sunrise Movement Dallas, a youth-led political movement that wants to prioritize awareness of climate change, will participate. Some of the world’s top practitioners of liberating structures (LS) — a framework of engagement that enhances relational coordination and trust — also will attend.
Workshop coordinators will share simple LS processes that participants can apply in classrooms, boardrooms or community meetings. The concept incorporates many easy-to-use techniques to include and engage participants. The hope is that participation will lead to creative solutions.
One of the workshop’s leaders will be UTEP’s Arvind Singhal, Ph.D., Samuel Shirley and Edna Holt Marston professor of communication, and director of the University’s Social Justice Initiative. The longtime LS proponent has offered similar workshops at more than 50 universities around the world as well as the United Nations and the White House during President Barack Obama’s administration.
“The world is changed when people feel heard, seen and respected,” said Singhal, who has taught this method for 17 years. “Liberating structures represent the tools to foster such a feeling of inclusion and ownership. Whether it be at this workshop or the next, I encourage people to come learn the simple tools that help us create inclusive, democratic and vibrant conversational spaces.”
UTEP’s Social Justice Initiative will honor the two men who founded the LS concept, Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless, from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, March 6, in the Blumberg Auditorium. The duo will receive the 2020 Social Justice Pioneer Award. As part of the festivities, participants will engage in “high energy” LS games.
Singhal said that Lipmanowicz and McCandless, whom he met in 2003, had a profound effect on how he conducts his classrooms, research meetings and conference agendas. He considers them his LS mentors. Singhal introduced the concept at UTEP in 2007 when he joined the faculty, and was pleased that several fellow educators throughout the University have incorporated it into their courses. In fact, he said that because of the Social Justice Initiative actions and faculty efforts, some consider UTEP a global leader in LS research and practice.
“It is because of what I have learned from Henri and Keith that I have facilitated meetings using (liberating structures) at the White House, at the British Houses of Parliament, various UN forums and so on,” Singhal said.