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    Practices to Transform Complex Challenges

  • 7-Week Online Course

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About the Course    |     Faculty    |    Modules    |     Highlights     |     Enroll     |     FAQ

Thriving on Complexity Webinar - Recording Available

Our Thriving on Complexity course recently concluded. We were thrilled to draw and engage with such a large international learning community. We expect to launch additional online courses in a similar format soon. 

To stay informed and get a taste of what our online courses are like, we invite you to view a recording of our live webinar, Thriving on Complexity: Practices to Transform Complex Challenges. In this recording, we offer a preview of our previous 7-week online course through an engaging presentation by course faculty on course themes and structure. 




Register to receive a recording and stay informed

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Complexity is the very soul of the world we seek to thrive in. We can learn to transform the complexity within ourselves as well as the complexity outside us.

This course is designed to help participants choreograph the dance between inner and outer complexity, in service of aligning our capabilities with what the world needs and finding “the simplicity on the far side of complexity.”

The problems humanity faces are so complex that our historical epoch is sometimes described as a crisis of complexity. This is the root of our current ecological, economic, and political turmoil. In each case, what is required of humanity is more complex than what our current mindsets allow. Even our own inventions—technologies, cultural memes, and organizations—have been evolving into increasingly complex forms, which have increased the demands of everyday life. 



Professionals across all domains are looking for tools and practices responsive to this new world of unprecedented and accelerating complexity. The old rules do not apply, while the new rules are yet to be handed down.

We are often in over our heads, overwhelmed by the demands of our everyday and professional lives. We can learn to transform the complexity both within and outside of ourselves in ways that can enrich our lives and enhance our professional contributions.

Promoting vertical development is not enough; neither are “systems thinking” or “evolving cultures.” A comprehensive approach to thriving on complexity is trans-disciplinary and practitioner-focused. The goal of this course is to engage with a comprehensive set of practices and frameworks for thriving on complexity.

Thriving on complexity goes beyond merely coping with complexity: it requires having capacities for seeing and understanding complexity as well as working with and transforming complexity.



  • Aftab Omer, Ph.D.

    Aftab Omer, Ph.D.

    Aftab Omer is a sociologist, psychologist, futurist and the president of Meridian University. Raised in Pakistan, India, Hawaii, and Turkey, he was educated at the universities of M.I.T, Harvard and Brandeis. His publications have addressed the topics of transformative learning, cultural leadership, generative entrepreneurship and the power of imagination. His work includes assisting organizations in tapping the creative potentials of conflict, diversity, and complexity. Formerly the president of the Council for Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychologies, he is a Fellow of the International Futures Forum and the World Academy of Arts and Sciences.

  • Zachary Stein, Ed.D.

    Zachary Stein, Ed.D.

    Zachary Stein is Chair of the Education Program at Meridian University. He received his Bachelor’s from Hampshire College, and his Master’s and Doctorate from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Zak co-founded Lectica, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to promoting social justice through the reform of large-scale standardized testing, where he worked for over a a decade. Zak’s publications have bridged topics in the philosophy of education, neuroscience, developmental psychology, and psychometrics. He has recently completed a forthcoming book: Social Justice and Educational Measurement: John Rawls, the History of Testing, and the Future of Education (Routledge 2016).

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Featured Contributing Faculty

JeanHouston  Jean Houston, Chancellor of Meridian, is a visionary researcher who has authored nearly 30 books and worked intensively in over 40 cultures, lectured in over 100 countries, and worked with major organizations such as UNICEF and NASA. Dr. Houston has served on the faculties of Columbia University, Hunter College, Marymount College, The New School for Social Research, and the University of California. She holds doctoral degrees in both psychology and religion. Since 2002, Dr. Houston has been working with the United Nations Development program, training leaders in developing cultures throughout the world. 

  • "A culture provides an individual with a mapping of time and space, but as the culture goes through a period of change and stressful transformation, this map becomes distorted. In periods of intense cultural distortion, the map becomes so changed as to be almost obliterated. For some this can be a moment of terror, for others, a time of release… The old forms fall away, there comes a new receptivity, a new centering inward, and in an instant there flashes onto the screen of consciousness a new re-visioning of the map. There in the receptive silences of meditation new possibilities of time and space announce themselves, possibilities that lie beyond the descriptions of the old institutions of the old culture. This is the prophetic moment, the annunciation of a new myth, and the beginning of a new culture."
    William Irwin Thompson
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Our goal is to offer a guided tour through the landscape of the current complexity crisis, seeing and understanding complexity across multiple domains like relationships, education, business, and culture. There are patterns that all complex challenges share; a comprehensive, integral approach allows us to perceive patterns and engage challenges, as a whole.

The course focuses on a constellation of principles for transforming complexity, bridging personal, cultural, and institutional worlds. Each principle is grounded in a practice and each practice is driven home through assignments and practice-oriented activities that cultivate specific capabilities.



Online and Engaged: The course is comprised of seven, 90-minute weekly video sessions, and access to an online learning platform. This platform includes lectures, scholarly articles, and provides engaging asynchronous activities with course participants. The course features:

  • Video Sessions with faculty and fellow course participants each Thursday at 10 AM Pacific Time;
  • Video recordings available for missed sessions;
  • Online Readings and Forums;
  • Take-Home Practices;
  • Ongoing connection to the cohort;
  • Participants from around the world;
  • Contributing Faculty: Jean Houston and others.




  • Week 1: An Integral Framework for Thriving on Complexity

    Week 1: An Integral Framework for Thriving on Complexity

    • What is complexity-capability?
    • Complexity, chaos, and dancing at the edge.
    • Complexity collapse and catastrophe.
    • The power of habit in human systems.
    • Case studies of exemplary responses to complexity.
    • Capability: creative inquiry and participatory research for investigating and transforming complexity.
    • Practice: case study methods for handling complexity; action-research techniques for engaging personal and professional realities.
  • Week 2: Complexity in Context: Anchoring Our Locus of Practice

    Week 2: Complexity in Context: Anchoring Our Locus of Practice

    • An overview of the complexity crisis as it manifests across multiple domains.
    • Setting resiliency goals aligned with personal contexts and professional domains.
    • Capability: perspective taking and the power of purpose.
    • Practice: building a common language for negotiating volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.
  • Week 3: Consciousness and Attentional Competencies:

    Week 3: Consciousness and Attentional Competencies:

    • Considering and exploring the psychological, emotional, and ego-developmental aspects of engaging complexity.
    • Shadow work and the archetypes.
    • Imagination and the transmuting of emotion.
    • The play of symbol and metaphor.
    • Capability: working with embodied self-awareness and other post-conventional personality traits.
    • Practice: The power of focus and the care of memory.
  • Week 4: Complexity and Biology: Human Beings are Complex Non-Linear Systems

    Week 4: Complexity and Biology: Human Beings are Complex Non-Linear Systems

    • Looking into the way dynamic systems theories apply to understanding the development of human behavior and growth.
    • Practices for tapping into the evolutionary processes that play out in the individual body-mind.
    • Capability: engage self and other in terms non-linear systems, ecological dynamics.
    • Practice: practical skills with intuitive developmental assessment and task-analysis.
  • Week 5: Complexity and Culture: Conflict Transformation and a Return to the Sacred

    Week 5: Complexity and Culture: Conflict Transformation and a Return to the Sacred

    • Communitas and intimacy.
    • Engaging in conflict transformation practices and theory.
    • Considering the new cultural landscape of social media.
    • Transforming public culture.
    • Considering the new forms of ethical and interpersonal complexity.
    • Capability: engaging with conflict transformation and new forms of ritual through group facilitation.
    • Practice: Conflict transformation and creative ritual.
  • Week 6: Innovation and Social Systems: Developing Metrics for Transformation and Justice

    Week 6: Innovation and Social Systems: Developing Metrics for Transformation and Justice

    • "Eternity's Sunrise" - Transforming the colonization of time.
    • Looking at the role of measures, feedback loops, and dynamic structures in social systems and complex networks.
    • The new economics and the new politics of social justice.
    • Capability: deploying critical theory and practice for engaging emergence in social systems.
    • Practice: social justice and perspective-taking exercises.
  • Week 7: Implementing our Action Inquiries

    Week 7: Implementing our Action Inquiries

    • Synthesis, reflection and application through practitioner narratives and plans for collaborative next steps.
    • Capability: presencing collective wisdom.
    • Practice: creative action inquiry and the power of embodiment, transgression, and wisdom.
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  • Cohort and Community:

    Cohort and Community: No one can change the world alone, and the creation of a learning community is one of the core elements of good education. In this course participants are integrated into a cohort of others with diverse personal and professional backgrounds. Sharing commitments to personal and global transformation while engaging in collaborative work creates a thrilling sense of joint adventuring. This can be the basis for life-long friendships and connection with professional colleagues.
  • A Meta-theoretical Approach:

    A Meta-theoretical Approach: A truly trans-disciplinary approach requires some kind of deep philosophical and meta-theoretical framing. Thriving on Complexity offers this, but does not get its students lost in the abstract and theoretical. From Critical Realism and Integral Theory the curriculum pulls from a wide range of meta-theoretical approaches, always with an emphasis on how these theories matter for practice.
  • Blending Theory and Practice:

    Blending Theory and Practice: Effectively thriving on complexity is not merely a matter of having the right theories in mind, nor is it a matter of learning a set of practices that are sure to work. Thriving on complexity requires creating new forms of praxis—dynamically blending theory and practice into a potent force for change in the world. This course asks participants to see how practice can inform theory, and how theory can reframe practices.
  • Transforming the Self:

    Transforming the Self: We must not just learn about transformative learning, we must engage in transformative learning. The course is designed around embodied learning activities that focus on transformations of deep-seated capacities, mindsets, and emotional dispositions. This is soul work; engaging practices that transform consciousness. Students come away with more than new knowledge and skills; they come away with a new sense of self and of their own potentials.
  • Powerful Practices and Big Ideas:

    Powerful Practices and Big Ideas: Students are provided with opportunities to develop a variety of powerful practices. These are offered in light of a set of big picture theories--meta-theories--about cultural evolution, human potential, and social justice."
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  • Emergence and the New Epoch of Complexity

  • Chaos and Entropy

  • Beyond Systems Thinking

  • Vertical Development and Transformative Learning

  • Creative Transgression

  • Trans-disciplinary Practice

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  • "Ah, not to be cut off,
    not through the slightest partition
    shut out from the law of the stars.
    The inner — what is it?
    if not intensified sky,
    hurled through with birds and deep
    with the winds of homecoming."
    Rainer Maria Rilke
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 Thriving on Complexity: Practices to Transform Complex Challenges
7-week Course from March 24 - May 5, 2016
Live sessions with faculty held every Thursday from 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time (1:00 PM Eastern, 6:00 PM London)

Enrollment Closed


  • FAQs

  • Q: What is an online course?

    Our online courses are primarily conducted in a virtual environment and will not have meetings in a designated physical space. Course materials will be provided through our easy to use online learning platform. Class activities and communications, will typically be conducted virtually.
    Our online courses promote community learning, through strong interactive engagement with fellow students and faculty. We host live weekly video sessions with faculty.
  • Q: What technology do I need to take an online course?

    You will need an email account, a high-speed internet connection, and access to a computer, iOS or android device.
  • Q: Do I need to be online at certain times for class?

    Live 90-min video sessions with faculty and fellow students will be conducted weekly. You will also be given video recordings of the weekly sessions. Video presentations, readings, discussions and learning activities will be provided asynchronously and may be completed on your own schedule.
  • Q: What is your refund policy?

    Full refunds are available until March 23, 2016. To request a refund, you will be asked to submit a refund request form. Your refund will be processed within five business days.
  • Q: Do I need to apply to Meridian to take this online course?

    You do not need to apply to take this online course. Our online courses are available to everyone.
  • Q: How can I reach a customer service and/or IT support person?

    We will provide you with personal support from start to finish. Please send your questions/requests/issues to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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