Imagination and Social Healing Symposium

Meridian's Center for Transformative Learning presents:

Imagination and Social Healing: Learning to Share Our Worlds

Participatory Symposium and Inquiry guided by a team of 6 facilitators and 15 presenters

Conveners: Aftab Omer and Martin Michaelis · May 21, 2016 · Berlin, Germany

Ultimately each of us comes from distinct circumstances that contribute to becoming unique human beings.

Molenbeek, Aleppo, the beaches of Lesbos, Davos, Wall Street, Ankara, Brussels, Paris, Kabul, Berlin...

We come from completely individualized perspectives and dwell in many distinct, fragmented, and compartmentalized worlds. Conflicts arise and our worlds collide. We get trapped in mindsets of 'right and wrong' which diminish the beauty of difference.

How can we possibly come together well enough to transform our thinking - and our cultures - if we each see a different reality?

Why this Symposium?

In the city that took down its wall in order to heal, to imagine, and to build a future without walls, we gather to deepen the practices through which we can build bridges to the future.

As more and more fences and walls are built in Europe and beyond, we understand that dramatic transformation is needed. We seek to facilitate and prototype this transformation as we gather on May 21st, 2016.

This gathering is for anyone who is seeking the wisdom of their community along with the potential impact of assembling over 15 leaders in transformational studies from around the world. The facilitators and dialog leaders bring varied skill sets and perspectives from personal development to multinational consulting and global renewal.

Altogether, this Symposium is an opportunity for:

  1. Individual and cultural transformation
  2. Shifting from linear to integral consciousness
  3. Deepening skills for engaging diversity and transforming complexity
  4. Seeding culturally empowering entrepreneurial projects

As the Conveners of this Symposium, we seek:

  • To create an occasion for active social healing, not just a time to reflect on it.
  • To build bridges by exploring forgiveness, privilege, reconciliation, power, freedom, friendship, and isolation.
  • To presence collective wisdom.
  • To share the many unique worlds we come from and bring with us to the symposium.
  • To grow our complexity capability in creating a world that is coherent enough to hold many worlds.
  • To not condemn, but to build bridges of understanding across our distinct worlds.

Core Topic of Inquiry

We will inquire into the possibilities of personal and cultural transformation realized through social healing. This deep work requires that we go beyond denying, suppressing and trivializing difference to recognizing and engaging the profound difference that has shaped our world.

We seek to create a container for the past, present, and future of cultural transformation and will engage contemporary concerns, including:

  • The Migration and refugee crisis in Europe.
  • Social isolation and marginalization.
  • The collapse and fragmentation of nation-states in the Arab world.
  • The growing chasm between our technological capabilities and our caring cababilities.

Over Two Decades of Transformation and Social Healing Experience

Transformative Learning is both an individual and collective process that has played a powerful role in the emergence of culture.

Meridian University’s Center for Transformative Learning draws on the University’s nearly 25 years of experience in facilitating Education that Transforms. In 2012, the Center produced the 10th International Conference on Transformative Learning in San Francisco, California, attended by over 400 scholars and practitioners from around the world.

The Center’s work in Transformative Learning praxis is applied to projects in the domains of Education, Spiritual Practice, Business, Psychotherapy, Civil Society, the Arts, Governence, and the Law.

Approaches and Methods

  • The dynamics of self-organization such as “open space” and collective mindfulness practices.
  • Specific approaches to transformative learning which provide a powerful catalyst for social healing. This manifests in the forms of conflict transformation, reconciliation and forgiveness, accountability practice and reparation rituals.
  • Contemplative, expressive, dialogical, embodiment and collaborative practices which will help us explore the complex challenge of shifting from colonized and alien worlds to unique and shared worlds.
  • Presencing both collective wisdom and unique, individual experience.
  • The models we draw on include Theory U and Integral Theory.

Symposium Program Outline

Module 1 - Presencing: Gathering the Field - Becoming a We

Dialogue Topic: At Home in the World

  • Inner Home and Outer Home: Sharing Intentions for the Day
  • Articulating our Distinct Worlds - Acknowledging familiar identities and their differences
  • Finding Common Ground - What is our shared vision for the day?

Module 2 - Open Space Process: Finding Differences and Tribes

  • Where is Home? (To share worlds you have to leave home.)
  • Who are we at home with?
  • What future is worth building?
  • Who can we build a future with?

Module 3 - Lunch: Special Interest Groups

  • Complexity from an Integral framework.
  • From isolation to community.
  • Responding to the cascading crises in the Arab world.
  • Themes selected by particpants in the Open Space process.

Module 4 - Sharing Our Worlds: Healing-Wholing into the NEW Higher WE

  • Recognizing and Engaging Difference
  • Collective Trauma
  • Following the Transforming-Healing Image

Module 5 - Prototyping Generative Entrepreneurial Projects

  • The Challenge of Collective Transformative Learning
  • When Imagination Leads: Imaginal Capability and Complexity Challenges
  • Deepening skills for engaging diversity and transforming complexity
  • Project Groups

Closing Ritual Process

After the Symposium

"The future must enter us, long before it happens."


This day-long symposium serves to spark future possibilities for collaborative social healing and cultural change in the form of:

  • The fellowship and belonging of shared worlds where the future can enter through the work of like-minded individuals.
  • Connections with others who have special interests in areas such as education, civil society, governance, and business.
  • The development of project groups focused on prototypes.

A world is made out of webs of stories that give coherence. The good news is that worlds can be shared by sharing stories. The challenge comes in being able to receive the other's stories which enables us to share our worlds.

Aftab Omer

On our body earth, in our body humanity, blood is flowing, tears are flowing, refugees are flowing, oil, smoke, gas, money is flowing. Words of hate and fear, love and hope are flowing. Flow the words into poetry, the feelings into dance, the voices into song ~ What are we calling for, what are we calling for, what are we calling for?

Daria Halprin

Symposium Conveners

Aftab Omer Headshot

Aftab Omer

Aftab Omer, Ph.D. is a sociologist, psychologist, 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 leadership and the organizational shadow, 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.

Martin Michaelis

Martin Michaelis

Martin Michaelis is a licensed Mediator and Leadership Coach who works and lives in Berlin, Germany. He creates and facilitates programs for cultural change and leadership in organizations and post-conflict societies. He graduated in law at the University of Freiburg and in political science at the University of Mainz. Martin has worked as a mediator and lecturer in post-conflict societies including the South Caucasus region, Bosnia and Herzegovina among others. In addition he has trained judges in mediation in Egypt.

Symposium Facilitators and Dialogue Contributors

Mike Kauschke

Mike Kauschke

Mike Kauschke is managing editor of evolve magazine for consciousness and culture, and also works as a translator of books about an integral worldview and spiritual transformation. Mike Kauschke practiced and studied Zen-Buddhism with teachers in Europe and USA and worked in hospice care. He has studied integral theory and evolutionary spirituality for over 10 years and is a trained facilitator of the “emerge dialogue process”.

Gisela Wendling

Gisela Wendling

Gisela Wendling, Ph.D. is Vice President for Global Learning and Senior Consultant at The Grove Consultants International and leads The Grove’s new Global Learning and Exchange Network (GLEN) which focuses on evolving the practices of collaboration within and across organizations and globally. Gisela is German-born, immigrated to the US in her early 20’s, and has had field experiences with indigenous people in South America, Africa and Australia. Her cross-cultural experiences let her to re-conceptualize rites of passages as an approach for guiding human systems change processes. Now her research focuses on the sacred as a core dynamic in leading, facilitating and serving.

David Sibbet

David Sibbet

David Sibbet is Founder and Chairman of The Grove Consultants International, a full service organization development firm based in the Thoreau Center for Sustainability in San Francisco. ( He is an acknowledged master graphic facilitator, information designer, and change consultant. He works globally in both public and private sectors and is author of Wiley’s best selling visual leadership series—Visual Meetings, Visual Teams, and Visual Leaders.

Thomas Henschel

Thomas Henschel

Thomas R. Henschel is the Director and Founder of the Academy for Mediation Berlin (MAB). For more than 10 years he was a Senior Executive at the Bertelsmann Foundation, the leading think tank for European Policies. Thomas can build on more than 25 years of experience as a Mediator and Consultant to Senior Executives in the public and private sector. He has worked in over 40 Countries and is Professor for International Mediation at the ICD in Berlin.

Amir Nasr

Amir Nasr

Amir A. Nasr is the founder of Assertiveu™ – a startup on a mission to help reinvent the creative writing program for today’s globalized multicultural age and digital economy. He is the formerly anonymous sociopolitical blogger behind The Sudanese Thinker, and is the author of the searing memoir My Isl@m: How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind – And Doubt Freed My Soul, recommended by Foreign Policy among 25 books to read in 2013. He is also an early team member of EdTech company Mindvalley, and a consultant to fellow founders and CEOs. Amir has been featured in The New York Times, The Economist, and The Wall Street Journal, among many others, and has shared the stage with Nobel Peace Laureates, former presidents, and celebrated entrepreneurs. He lives in the land of beavers and maple syrup, aka beloved Canada.

Sabina Abdulajeva

Sabina Abdulajeva

Sabina comes from a multidisciplinary background. Her work is dedicated to human creativity, movement and personal sustainability. She gives workshops and individual consultations internationally, revolving around a cross-disciplinary encounter between arts, sustainability, body attention, imagination, and learning to navigate life with a different compass, where intuitive wisdom is just as part of the picture as the rational mind. She also grows - a forest of stories and encounters, dedicated to the big question of how do we want to live. It aims to encourage the meeting of different “worlds”, through which new pathways may unfold.

Elizabeth Debold

Elizabeth Debold

Elizabeth Debold, Ed.D., is the founder of One World in Dialogue, a virtual space for learning and cross-cultural connection from the emergent awareness of unity in diversity and diversity in unity. She is also one of the world’s foremost authorities on gender development and author of the bestselling Mother Daughter Revolution (Addison-Wesley, 1993; Bantam, 1994). For the past four decades, she has committed herself to the potential of an emergent consciousness that transcend and include deep social differences through her work as an activist, researcher, journalist, spiritual explorer, and transformative educator. She is currently on the Faculty of Education at Meridian University and an editor of the German-language evolve magazine. She lives in Frankfurt.

Thomas Steininger

Thomas Steininger

Thomas Steininger, Ph.D., studied philosophy at the University of Vienna, specializing in consciousness and social evolution using the work of Heidigger and Wilber. He worked for the Austrian Radio (OE1) and as a freelance journalist and is the founder of the German magazine, evolve. He also hosts the weekly web-broadcast, Radio evolve. Thomas taught at the Master’s program for Conscious Evolution at The Graduate Institute. He has pioneered the development of the Emerge Dialogue process, a new consciousness-aware collective process for creative engagement.

Dennis Wittrock

Dennis Wittrock

Dennis Wittrock, M.A. (philosophy, English, art) co-director and visionary of the Integral European Conference, is co-founder and board member of Integral Europe, former CEO of Integrales Forum and Die Integrale Akademie in Germany, a freelance journalist, author, trainer, certified Holacracy®-Facilitator, MeetingDoctor consultant, integral activist and blogger, practitioner of bodyweight-training, zen, yoga and chant. His mission is to serve the emergence of integral consciousness and to create spaces for growth, transformation and large-scale societal change, expanding our circle of care and compassion.

Scott Bolden

Scott Bolden

Scott Bolden is a trans-disciplinary designer, engineer, artist and event producer who relocated from New York City to Berlin in 2010. He is one of the co-founders of Das Baumhaus in Berlin, an indoor tree house for use as a hub, meeting and event space for meaningful engagement in trans-local sustainable development. Scott's mission is to find and share practical ways to bring more balance into the world Personally, Ecologically Aesthetically, Culturally Economically and Socially (PEACES). He focuses on using flexible contextual frameworks that are intuitively understandable and first hand intimate experiences which are authentically resonant such as his 'Inner Commons' framework and 'I.G.O.' vocal improvisation workshops.

Clare Dorothee Hahn

Clara Dorothee Hahn

Clara Dorothee Hahn studied movement at the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem. She studies meditation in the Buddhist tradition and is in continued practice with Thomas Hübl. She worked as a musician manager in Berlin. Clara currently lives in Barcelona where she collaborates with artists from different fields.

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.

Ernest Hemingway




Thiemannstrasse 1
gate 4, house 5, stairways 1
12059 Berlin-Neukölln

Colonia Nova is a creative studio house with a beautiful loft and sunny roof terrace. Used as coworking and meeting space, it provides all kinds of opportunities to present art, products, companies and institutions in the heart of Neukölln, Berlin. For further information see

Neukölln is located in the sourtheastern part of Berlin, characterized by a multicultural population with many shops, bars and restaurants of arabic and turkish influence. For further information see


Public Transport: S-Sonnenallee (Ringbahn S41, S42), Bus M41 (Hertzbergplatz). Visit to plan your journey via public transportation.

Parking is available if you decide to travel by car.

General Information

Date: May 21, 2016
9:30 a.m.: Registration and refreshments
10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.: Symposium presentations


Tuition: €70.00 (+ €2.74 Eventbrite Fee)
Tuition for the symposium includes:

  • Entrance fee to all symposium presentations
  • Lunch
  • Coffee, tea and refreshments


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