Integral Theory and Transformation


Posted on e-portfolio

In recent posts I noticed a growing discomfort related to possible future scenarios that would break through currently employed discourse. I would like to share some information I gathered over the past few days, as the result of a search that was no doubt prompted by some comments in the forums.

I believe one of the issues that emerged from the discussion is the search for something that would allow us to take a leap of faith and move beyond the current paradigmal thinking. (I like to call it Cartesian world view).

The second issue, directly related to our current course, is transformative learning.

I believe the two things can be looked at together. I spent hours on the web researching these issues, and eventually contacted several people working on transformation and Integral Theory. This is the great thing about the internet! As a result, I have now some initial information that gives more substance to my claim that there is more than just a dichotomous approach to today’s problems.

Here is a summary of some resources that I thought I’d share with you.

Transforming wholeness


Ken Wilber defines integral as:

“to integrate, to bring together, to join, to link, to embrace. Not in the sense of uniformity, and not in the sense of ironing out all of the wonderful differences, colors, zigs and zags of a rainbow-hued humanity, but in the sense of unity-in-diversity, shared commonalities along with our wonderful differences.” (A Theory of Everything)

“The word integral means comprehensive, inclusive, non-marginalizing, embracing. Integral approaches to any field attempt to be exactly that: to include as many perspectives, styles, and methodologies as possible within a coherent view of the topic. In a certain sense, integral approaches are “meta-paradigms,” or ways to draw together an already existing number of separate paradigms into an interrelated network of approaches that are mutually enriching.”

You can explore Integral Theory at: (paper)

Integral Education very comprehensive collection of articles


If you are interested in learning more about Dr Ervin Laszlo’s Macroshift check out the suggested links:


I believe that learning and dialogue may be key tools in such paradigm shift. For now, we are still dealing with a world premised on the industrialization era where people in general are reluctant to move into uncharted land, and instead prefer to linger on whatever we have, in spite of its obvious failures.

As Richard Evanoff writes in an interesting paper on Intercultural Dialogue and Education,” “From the point of view of intercultural education the alternative model of development advocates democratizing the decision-making process in a way that fully takes the interests and concerns of non-elites into consideration.”

Evanoff, R. (2001) Discussion Paper on intercultural dialogue and education. UNU – United Nations University Accessed on September 2, 2009 at

On dialogue:


On conflict transformation:

A Changing Worldview:

The Split between Spirit and Nature in Western Consciousness:

Another scholar that addresses transformation in education is Mezirow, whom we encounter in our FLIP course.


These are examples of wholistic, non-essentialist approaches. I hope it’s clear that I am sharing this information not in an attempt to proselytize, but just to provide some examples of a different thinking paradigm.



2 Responses

  1. Marie says

    Hello Oscar,
    Thanks for these posts. They have provided me with a much more palatable answer to the purposes of transformational learning than the essentially oppositional and cognitively weighted approaches of neo-Marxist analysis. It is easy to intellectualize the struggles involved in deep learning as oppositional and directed against a common enemy. However, this is only one way to frame “critical consciousness”, and to me, it is an embedded and politically partisan view that merely reinforces the polarization of the narrow context. Imagine though, if one could step back to regard these disturbances as part of a much much larger ecology. For example, on a molecular level, when two opposing forces interact, the “conflict” that causes change in their discrete autonomies is seen rather as an exchange of energy. To me, this is a far more productive attitude. Instead of taking sides in such an inevitable and frequently occurring interaction, it seems much more sustainable to seek to maximize (or direct) the energy exchange (as expressed in integral theory and conflict transformation)toward a positive vision of the much larger system that contains both. This approach frames the diversity of our interrelationships as opportunities, not problems to be overcome.

    Of course, this is decidedly more complex and difficult to implement in practice than the old oppositional ways of thinking, because it cannot be grasped and individualized as a purely cognitive notion. It is truly collectively created and enacted. It requires a shift in our perception of reality that has never really been demanded of the human species until this point in our history. I think this is a much needed systems-based vision of a way to combine our energies globally. The time has come for getting beyond “good guys/bad guys” forms of analysis into critical thinking that embraces the holistic and necessarily interrelated texture of experience. These links you have offered are clearly part of a movement towards this.
    — Marie C.

  2. Sorry, it has been years since I posted it when I was an ALGC student. The web site had been designed as a back up for my student portfolio, not really for publication. My apologies, I should have given credit to the picture. I`ve had it for many years and I found it appropriate for the post. Glad you like it.

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