V1: Strategic articulation of actions to cope with the huge challenges of our world today

V1: Strategic articulation of actions to cope with the huge challenges of our world today

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A principal failing of research on large-scale, complex social/technological problems is the excessive reliance upon easily measured technical observations and the accompanying minimal regard for hard-to-measure humanist aspirations, intentions, and hopes (Flanagan and Bausch, 2011). By focusing on the easily harvested quantitative data of technological science, complex systems research too easily excludes people’s life experiences, their need for practical relevance, their desires, and their traditions.. In doing this, they have alienated popular culture from the research and lay the grounds for ignoring its findings.

A new science is emerging that takes account of people’s life concerns in the context of critical human problems. This science accepts the observations of all stakeholders, helps observers as they combine these observations, and results in a composite, rich definition of the problem. This comprehensive definition melds many contexts in which stakeholders view the problem. By using this contextualized definition, scientists and populace working together can reach consensus on the nature of the problem and what they are to do about it. This new science was formulated by Gerard DeZeeuw as Third Phase science (1997).

If we are to reach a common ground for collective action, we need to talk not only with each other but also to reason together. Such a process requires dialogue. And not just any dialogue, but a highly structured one.

In this volume, Reynaldo Treviño Cisneros and Bethania Arango Hisijara present an analysis that joins the 15 global challenges found by the Millennium Project (Glenn, J., Gordon, T., and Florescu, E., 2010) with the 49 Continuous Critical Problems (CCPs) identified by Hasan Ozbekhan (1970). The method they used is expert-analysis using Interpretive Structural Modeling (ISM). It relies upon its two source documents to provide the required diversity of observations. It also reflects the considered judgment of only two people. It nevertheless illustrates the complexity that is inherent in a deep consideration of the challenge of global sustainability.

In preparation, the authors immersed themselves in the world as viewed in the 15 challenges and the 49 critical problems. Then they used Interpretive Structural Modeling (Warfield, 1974, 1976; Christakis and Bausch, 2006) to rank the 15 challenges on the basis of the influence they have on each other. In doing this, they generated a map that indicates the most influential challenges. This map points out that these challenges possess leverage and therefore deserve priority in efforts to improve the global situation. Second, they clustered the individual CCPs with the corresponding Challenges. Third, they generated actions that work to solve the individual Challenges. Finally, they generated a second map that indicates how the actions can confront the Challenges.

The central message from Bethania and Reynaldo is to invite civil society and governmental organizations to shape transdisciplinary groups and to follow their own journey of discovery, dialog and design, to achieve, by themselves, shared and clever strategies that might address at global, national, regional or local levels some of the challenges they had identified as needing attention, to pursue together a better quality of life for themselves and their communities.

About the Authors

Reynaldo Trevino-Cisneros, born in 1942 in Monterrey, N.L., Mexico, graduated at ITESM as Bachelor in Chemical Engineering. Life invited him to become a Jesuit in the Provincia Norte of the Jesuit Order. There he studied philosophy and theology until he left the Order. He devoted much of his laic life to teach at different universities in different cities of the Mexican Republic. He got a Master degree in Systems and Planning at Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico. In 1995 he discovered himself as a researcher in the field of socio-political sciences and future studies, while acting as Director of the Strategic Studies Center at ITESM in León, Guanajuato. After that he became, in 2000, Advisor, and four years later, Director of Social and Economic Policies at the Presidential Office for Public Policies during Vicente Fox’s Administration. At that time he was already certified as an international practitioner of Structured Dialogic Design and also got a Diploma in Governance and Public Policy. At present, he is a member of the Board of the Institute of 21st Century Agoras, and works as strategic planner at the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Bethania Arango Hisijara was born in Tlalnepantla, Mexico City on November 5th in 1976. She won her Doctorate in Pedagogy at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM), and received her Master degree in Education with specialization in cognitive processes from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM). She is an education researcher in curriculum structuring and cognitive processes and a member of the Communication Strategies Ibero-American Forum (FISEC) as part of the research group. She has twelve years of experience managing work groups at the National Institute for Statistics and Geography, training and collaborating in the generation of the Strategic Programs and leading other related projects. She is an proficient university teacher in different face-to-face and distance educational master programs. She lives in Aguascalientes, México and is married and the Mother of a beautiful 4 year old daughter.