The Evolution of Meaning in Conflict and Identity

We live and work in a global economy that is more diverse than ever. The greater the diversity in an organization, the greater the possibility for misunderstanding, disagreement and conflict.

Change and conflict are natural aspects of contemporary organizations. Critical to organizational success are leaders and managers who can inspire, empower and motivate, as well as be agents of change in spite of the conflict it may cause. Organizational effectiveness is grounded in caring, reflective professionals who have integrity, and who can insightfully analyze the situation, courageously take risks, act decisively, and artfully use conflict resolution to foster organizational transformation and innovation.

While critically examining organizations as adaptive systems, collaborative knowledge networks and living cultures, this triad of courses enables students to develop their own perspectives on engaging organizational environments and community-building communication strategies. It also   highlights the significance of leadership in approaching and managing a negotiation situation and organizational conflict resolution, providing an opportunity for students to identify and hone their own professional leadership qualities and conflict analysis skills related to facilitating organizational change and development.

The Evolution of Meaning in Conflict and Identity specialization at Antioch University Midwest focuses on three basic ideas:

  1. As adults, our minds can and do continue to evolve toward greater complexity of understanding.
  2. As our minds evolve toward greater complexity, we gain greater awareness and perspective on ourselves and others in interaction with our world.
  3. As we gain greater awareness and perspective, we are better able to engage in and learn from conflict in life-affirming and transformational ways.

Required Courses

CAE616 The History and Evolution of the Field of Developmental Psychology (4.00 cr.)

This course will trace the evolution of thought and knowledge-construction within the field of Developmental Psychology, particularly as it attends to the development of human meaning-making – what Kegan calls “the essential motion of human being” – and the “what you do with what happens to you.”  The origins of this field can be found in the works of James Mark Baldwin, John Dewey, George Herbert Meade, and most centrally, Jean Piaget. We will look at the work of all of these theorists, along with many others in the lineage, as we follow the development of the thinkers and their thoughts through this field of making sense of our human experience. We will also look at present-day knowledge construction through the lens of our Integral perspective, to explore the continuing evolution of the field and where it might lead us, and how it can help illuminate and clarify our understanding of the meaning and evolution of conflict engagement and analysis.

CAE617 The Evolution of the Self in Conflict: Constructive-Developmental Theory (4.00 cr.)

This course explores the evolutionary trajectory of meaning-making in adulthood and the ways that we understand, experience, and engage the conflicts, from the banal to the profound, that inevitably show up along our journey. Conflicts and the meaning they hold for us have a powerful impact on our sense of identity, membership in our communities, and our constructions of our world. Without conflict, we do not grow. With too much conflict, we wither and retreat.

This course will take an in-depth look at the evolution of the self and its meaning-making across the lifespan, focusing primarily on the journey through adulthood. We explore this time called “adulthood” not as a single, last phase of human development, but as part of an evolutionary journey involving significantly different eras and transformations. Within the context of conflict analysis and engagement, we will use conceptual and literary readings, group discussions via conference calls, self-reflective practice, and online dialogue to plumb the depths of the evolution of meaning-making in adulthood. The complexity of one’s meaning-making holds significant implications for the ways in which individuals understand, relate to, and experience conflict. In this course students will attend to understanding their own meaning-making around conflict while also attending to the meaning-making of conflict of their clients, colleagues, family and friends.

CAE618 Theory to Practice: Working Through our Immunity to Change (4.00 cr.)

This course will apply the theory and methodology of constructive-developmental psychology to leadership and mediation practice. We will focus on the methodologies of Kegan & Lahey’s Immunity to Change, Torbert’s Action Inquiry, Goodman’s Developmental Coaching, and engage in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person investigations of the theoretical and conceptual foundations for each methodology as well as the administration and practical application of each.

Students will be expected to engage with these methodologies in their own reflective practice throughout the course, and to keep a reflective practice journal. At the beginning of the course, students will, in consultation with the instructor, create their own individual learning goals for the course and develop an individualized trajectory and strategies and to enhance and support their own evolutionary journey. These goals and strategies will be based on each student’s own current complexity of meaning-making as assessed by an initial Subject-Object Interview and an Immunity to Change Map.