Living Systems and Leadership: Cultivating Conditions for Institutional Change
Since its founding, the Center for Ecoliteracy, where Zenobia Barlow is executive director and Michael Stone is senior editor, has supported and advanced education for sustainable living in K–12 schools. One of our particular concerns has been leadership and systemic institutional change. We have sought to understand both how schools can themselves change and how to facilitate societal change for the sake of creating more sustainable communities. We have worked with thousands of leaders from schools across the United States and on six continents. In 2009 we established a Schooling for Sustainability Leadership Academy.
Inspired by systems theorist and Center for Ecoliteracy cofounder Fritjof Capra, our work has been strongly influenced by systems theory, especially the Theory of Living Systems. This article will explore the implications of this theory for leadership and change. We will illustrate its applications with examples from food systems change, an increasingly important area in schooling for sustainability, concluding with a discussion of the Center‘s current work at multiple levels of scale in the Oakland Unified School District, a large urban district in California.