Alumni Reflections from Fritjof Capra’s ‘Capra Course’

Picture credit: @sameertechs, Twitter

I am very pleased to announce that registration is now open for the Spring 2018 edition of Capra Course. Last year saw many new developments for the course, many of which emerged from the various gatherings around the world of alumni.

With the world experiencing so much turbulence, and politicians and many profit-focused businesses still failing to heed the warnings on global warming and many other related systemic issues we are facing, I wanted to share the experiences of a just a few of the alumni who have already taken Capra Course.

I have been working with Fritjof for the last couple of years on the development and evolution of the course, and it has been extremely hearting to receive so many positive comments about people’s experiences and the impact it has had on their academic, personal and spiritual development.

Credit: Capra Course

The reason is that I feel that the problems we face now demand new educational paradigms to help install in people a much deeper sense of what systems thinking really is, and the fact that systemic solutions are available to us now, if only we can manage to elevate our collective thinking to an expanded level of understanding.

The three reflections below show the transformative potential of Fritjof’s course, possible the most advanced on-line systems thinking course currently available today. If you would like to join Fritjof and explore the systems view of life with him, please see www.capracourse.net for further information. Registration is now open and the next edition starts on 7th March 2018.

Victor, Barcelona

 

It is quite a challenge to write a summary about what this course has meant to me. I read ‘The Web of Life’ and ‘The Hidden Connections’ not long ago and the news ideas in ‘The System’s View of Life’ course have merged with the old ones into a single complex transition. Somehow writing a summary about what I have learnt feels not only difficult but also tricky, since such a reduction feels as if this would be the very best, which is not at all true. Nevertheless, I will try to write about some things I learnt.

While working on architecture project I completed before the course I tried to apply a systemic perspective. The process and the result were amazing both for me and the teachers who helped me, but I felt a tremendous frustration with its final presentation.

The way I explained it did not make clear enough the connections at the various levels of complexity. I did not know if a systemic view and ‘selling ideas’ the way architects and society are used to, did not go along together or I was not good enough at doing that. With the firsts discussions around the nature of communication, language and intuition I realized that I was not alone in the struggle with the limitations of linear language and it has been very enriching to hear Fritjof develop such a complex theory throughout the course.

In this sense, following Fritjof’s reflections on art, I see more clear than ever the uniqueness and huge capacity of art to express the complex and the essential and its potential for change. I have already started to explore paths where I can express better non-linear processes. The course made me realise all that… the intuition that full physical presence is ultimately connected to spirituality and caring for life and nature.

As stated in the course, the evolution of human life is simultaneously connected to the evolution of language, social life, consciousness and technology. Nowadays digital technology, like in many many other fields, has taken a central role in architectural production: we architects spend most of the time in front of computers.

What the course has make me very aware of is that what we do shapes us. Maturana and Varela’s statement ‘the process of knowing is the process of life’ has been of tremendous help to understand the implication of ceratin paths I take in my life. If I choose to follow my vision of architecture (and life) through a certain technology, my process will be limited to the possibilities of that specific technology and therefore my mind will be shaped somehow accordingly.

This awareness has been revolutionary for me and has translated into a progressive reduction in the use of digital technology and an increase of the use of my own hands, real materials, phisical models, painting, personal interactions and learning from the built world and nature by direct physical experience.

Perhaps, though, the most stricking lesson of the course has been ‘the system’s view of health’. All its ideas were new to me… it has heavily reshaped my daily life for better, since I have left a few bad habits behind and started practising better ones.

As I explained in the forum once, the course ran paralel to my personal journey hitchhiking through Eastern Europe. At that time I was also reading ‘Uncommon Wisdom’ and when I realized that Fritjof too used to travel hitchhiking I felt a tremendous spiritual connection, especially when I reached Vienna.

I have felt honoured to take part in the course and I cannot thank you all enough for giving me this chance. Thank you Mira [the course administrator] for being always there! Fritjof’s kindness and care with the students has been very moving. I hope our paths come across someday.

Credit: Capra Course

Radha Gopalan, India

Almost thirty years ago I was gifted Fritjof Capra’s Turning Point and with that began my journey into a systems view of life. The opportunity to take the Capra Course on The Systems View of Life came at a time when I was grappling with building cohesion between sustainability, complexity, consciousness and emergence: this was therefore a propitious convergence of events.

At a fundamental level, the Capra Course on a Systems View of Life provided an elegant framework to develop a worldview built around relationships, flexibility, adaptability and resilience. The strength of this framework lies in the way complex ideas of consciousness, emergence and symbiogenesis were woven in through the works of some of the most prescient and powerful thinkers of our times.

For me, a significant learning from the course was the history and evolution of the systems theories, complexity and cognition and how this is so vital for the way we imagine our collective future as life forms. The power of community and consistent dialogue to come up with a shared understanding and meaning of life emerged strongly in the forums. The forums were also spaces where we dialogued without fear. Fritjof’s insightful and thoughtful responses to each and every question truly made it a great class after the class!

The careful selection of the diverse supplementary materials enriched the lectures. It was inspiring to listen to some of the most incisive, passionate and clear minds of our times.

My current efforts focus on creating learning spaces to understand how we can sustain life. Most of my work is with urban and rural youth as well as local communities. Understanding sustainability through the ideology of food sovereignty is an important part of this effort. For my personal growth and transformation I am focussing on understanding the relationship between nature and consciousness through explorations in yoga and sustainability education. I see these as being very much a part of my future vision.

Capra Course has helped clear away some of the cloudiness in my thinking and provided clarity through the framework of a systems view of life. I have begun using the learnings from the course (particularly ideas of relationships, networks, associations and boundaries) in developing learning modules. These are helping to facilitate emergence of understanding about complexity of nested and interconnected social, economic, political and ecological systems, among middle school students.

This course has been another turning point in my personal journey of individual transformation which I believe will contribute to collective transformation.

Fred Lauer, USA

I learned much from this course, more than I had hoped for. Before joining and learning more about the material, I was already familiar with Fritjof’s work. I had purchased and read parts of The Systems View of Life. It informed parts of my Master’s thesis, and I cited it frequently both professionally, and personally. I was delighted to hear that there was an option to learn directly from Fritjof, and engage with other participants in that material.

Among the myriad things I learned, I think that the interconnectedness of world problems perhaps takes precedence. Of course, I think many of us who undertook this course journey knew the verity in this, but to see the diversity of people, professions, religions, and backgrounds really made it manifest for me. I was challenged to think outside of my own reference frame, and think globally about the local issues I was considering. It was profoundly moving to see how connected our problems were, and how ubiquitous many were.

I learned that no problem, in isolation, has a good resolution. I think I approached some of my interactions on the course forums as a way to confirm my assumptions, but that often did not happen. I was challenged through dialogue to consider alternatives. The anonymity of the forums I believe gave more opportunity for well-thought reflections and responses than a classroom setting may have, though I believe taking this course in person would have greatly changed what I learned.

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for more. I took this course during a particularly stressful time in my personal and professional life, and it was frequently something I looked forward to in the weeks. I am incredibly excited to keep moving my thoughts and dialogues forward in the alumni network. And I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to do so.

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