Synergia MOOC 2023

System Change not Climate Change
Photo by Kris Krüg

Toward Co-operative Commonwealth:
Transition in a Perilous Century

Our 5th offering of this online course begins January 29, 2023



System change and transition to a political economy that is both socially just and environmentally sustainable are now the central concern of social movements the world over.  

Climate change has added an unprecedented layer of complexity to the work of these movements. To meet this challenge, transition to a just and sustainable future requires a more realistic and, more holistic perspective. This is the starting point for the transition work we envisage at Synergia, and that is embodied in the content of this MOOC.

In earlier editions of this MOOC we subscribed to a slogan found on banners carried by thousands of climate marchers – “Systems Change Not Climate Change.”

The central idea, that we must transition radically and quickly to a socially just and environmentally sustainable political economy, is obvious.

However, as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres contends “we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction,” emissions continue to rise, and our collective negligence is radically altering human and natural systems. Yet alternatives like renewable energy remain a minuscule percentage of total energy generation and world leaders continue to promote economic growth as a viable response to climate change. Guterres concludes: “We have a choice – collective action or collective suicide. It’s in our hands.”

Photo by Markus Spiske

Meanwhile, our foot-dragging is actually accelerating change in human and natural systems, further concentrating power and wealth into fewer hands, and impoverishing and displacing more and more of humanity.

Given these contradictions, we shifted the priorities of the 2023 edition of the MOOC to face reality head-on. We start from the premise that there is no turning back to ‘normal’ and every 1/10th of a degree of warming means greater challenges for adaptation to climate disruptions.

We acknowledge that we are neither all equally responsible for climate change nor do we suffer its impacts equally. Increasingly the brunt of the impact falls on the poorest of the world, whether rising social inequality or the cumulative unsustainable changes in ecosystems. Serious climate justice questions need to be resolved between nations and their peoples.

Our approach blends theory and critical analysis with the practical models of transition currently being applied in countless communities around the globe. Our task has been to make these transition models visible and shareable.

In the 2023 MOOC our expectation is that the featured struggles, and the spirit and hard-won progress they embody, will arouse your sense of the possibilities, ways, and means to achieve a less dangerous and more just future. Our hope, in turn, is to nourish and strengthen both your individual and collective capacities to contribute meaningfully to our common and troubled home.

With a growing awareness of key planetary limits, the graphic below usefully depicts the cross-weaving themes, across which and within which, participants are challenged to connect the dots between various basic needs and key systems change strategies.

Starting from limits, each module examines the nature and source of the challenges manifested in one basic needs area (the vertical axis) and the diverse ways strategies are being applied to meet basic needs more resiliently by changing systems (the horizontal axis).

The course is composed of 7 modules that run over 21 weeks.

Each of the 7 modules runs for 3 weeks and requires up to 2 hours a week.

  • Week 1 of each module is devoted to reviewing video and text resources and an initial discussion of the module topic.
  • Week 2 of each module we explore forum topics in more depth with participants across the world, and also invite small groups to meet to develop a collective grasp of the issues, strengthen their capacity to think about how to effect systems change, and explore specific ways to apply ideas and frameworks in their work.
  • Week 3 is guided by you. We provide a reflection prompt that will help you deepen your learning. Or you can take some downtime or simply catch up on reading. Each option depends on you.

An 8th module “Constructing your Synthesis” is optional and requires an additional 2 weeks. Each year a number of participants have used Module 8 to firm up and share their future plans for action and to receive constructive feedback from peers.

MOOC co-leads are available to help in the module forums, via Canvas email and will be announcing Office Hours if you wish to contact us directly.

Three levels of Synergia Certificate of Completion will be offered. University credit from Athabasca University will also be available. For further information, see specific criteria for earning Certificates and University Accreditation below.

 

 

1 “How UN secretary general became an outspoken voice for climate action.” The Guardian. 4 November 2022.