The conference is designed as a temporary learning organization that exists for the purpose of studying itself, but it has many characteristics of more permanent organizations and social institutions. It is predicated on the idea that groups acquire significance for participants, influencing their thoughts, feelings and behavior. Powerful, often unrecognized, forces may impact the identities, roles and authority that individuals acquire, or attribute to others in groups or organizations. While seldom examined, group processes at this level may influence an organization’s effectiveness in achieving its goals. Therefore, they are the focus of study in this conference. The aim is to increase awareness of these processes in order to assist participants manage themselves, and perhaps others, more effectively in their work, home and social roles.
This model is based on experiential learning;lectures and didactic presentations are not part of the design and will not be part of the conference.
The conference provides an opportunity to explore, via one’s own experience, the dynamics of groups, and of the whole system, which emerge in this temporary organization. While reading about group dynamics or participating in discussions with a mentor or in a classroom provides opportunities for the critical examination of ideas and diverse perspectives, the focus of the conference is more immediate. It entails attending to what is occurring at the moment: the “here and now” of conference life.
As the conference unfolds through a series of events, members and staff will work together at the task of learning about and understanding the organization that emerges. We will be examining, among other things:
the processes and dynamics of group formation;
the norms and roles that develop;
the function of boundaries; and
the meaning of interactions that occur around authority and leadership.
In all instances, the dynamics that unfold will be explored as the result of our mutualparticipation, collectively constructed from our varying roles and social identities, during the life of the conference organization.
"My first residential conference experience was terrifying, electrifying, disconcerting, and immensely powerful. I experienced parts of myself that have long been denied, unrecognized or shunned by both myself and the systems I find myself in."
J.C. organizational consultant
"Throughout the last week I experienced a pivotal moment in my life that brought about a sense of self actualization that I had not felt in almost a decade. A lot of this had to do with what I could only describe as: a higher level integration between my identity and value system with elements of my unconscious and unresolved blind-spots simultaneously independent of and within organizational forms. The conference placed the learning within the context of an interdependent microcosm of social relations, groups, and various expressions of power and authority. Thank you to the A.K. Rice Institute for putting together such a powerful and challenging event."
"The work of the conference took me by surprise. Before the conference I knew nothing about what it would mean or what I could learn. I am happy to say I learned much from participants in the conference and the management of the conference. I am grateful to the management of the conference for their selection of the participants.
I see and think about groups, organizations, and the participation in them in a different way now than I did prior to the conference. In my field of arts management, we say we create meaningful interactions within groups—artists, audiences, curators, and communities. I believe we often overlook the reality of such interactions and the possibilities for transformation that they contain. (How is it that we are so intentional and yet so dishonest to out goals?) With the conference’s help, I see how easy it is to depart from real work and to indulge in fantasy and the other elements that would be easier for a group than the hard work of facing the participants in a room and the task at hand. I now have a great desire to have an office with a circle of identical chairs and, when people sit in them, to say out loud what patterns I see and to remind myself of the easy patterns we create to find comfort in a strange world full of shadows."
S.O. Non Profit Manager
"I learned about where my responses come from and how they run in relation to others at work. There are so few opportunities to learn about the unconscious on a personal and institutional level. It will change your life."
N.C.K. Educational Consultant and Founder