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Hierarchies of the Collective

Mind Body Spirit

Friday 23rd March 2018 - Sunday 25th March 2018

Boston College, Chestnut Hill, USA

Boston College

Primary Task
Info & Fees
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In a world where the collective ways we construe truth and parse reality seem to divide the world further, effective leadership requires a more integrated approach to meaning making. Leadership for change requires knowing how to lead from the mind, body, and spirit in the midst of confusion and chaos, and linking these ways of knowing together to navigate authentically, both above and below the surface, through the shifting prisms and shadows of our collective perspectives.

Hierarchies of the Collective: Mind, Body, and Spirit is a Group Relations Conference in the Tavistock tradition that provides experiential learning about the dynamics of authority, leadership, power, and justice as these dynamics rise, shift, and flow above and below the surface over the life of the conference. You will have opportunities to take different roles and learn how effective you and others are in exercising authority and leadership in a changing environment, and experience the impact your role-taking has on the development of organizational culture. Participants and staff together have an opportunity to study the implicit hierarchies of the collective: mind, body, and spirit that assist and hinder how we collectively choose, organize, interpret, disseminate, create, and act using existing data.

Why this conference? Today, advances in science and technology enable us to live longer and more productive lives. But with the same advances, we are becoming a disembodied species, not too distant from cyborgs with our advancing technological appendages. As complexity and options increase, our inherited reptile brain, default mode network, and survival instinct pull for the familiar, for homeostatic order and consistency. In this climate, the myths and shadow side of leadership find fertile soil.

Paradoxically, our digital age rushes us into the future and simultaneously hurls us into the murky mires of our past. We fall prey to our perseverative past and feel paralyzed by our uncertain future with fears of the unknown and the other’s ability to harm, cheat, betray, subvert, degrade, and oppress us. With our nature and our nurture, how are we driven by our collective mind of culture, beliefs, and biases? Is there an interplay with our collective body, biology, basic laws of physics, and our ancestry? What is the spirit of all else that remains an unquantifiable mystery?

Together, we will explore and seek insight through conference experience. We will be accountable for the political impact that our collective actions and inactions have on systemic dynamics. If you are concerned about these issues, if you want to explore the light and shadow side of leadership, if you want to develop your own capacity to authorize yourself and others to negotiate meaning: Join us!

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Conference Aims and Primary Task

The primary task of this conference is to study the conscious and unconscious development and exercise of authority, leadership, power, and justice as it occurs over the life of the conference.

Purpose: The purpose of the conference is to enable participants to improve their leadership and organizational effectiveness by providing experiential opportunities to learn about the rational and irrational ways that organizations and groups function. This conference provides the opportunity to study the impact group processes have on the exercise of authority, particularly as it relates to the experience of power and justice.

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The conference is designed to be a temporary organization, or system, which serves as a microcosm of larger organizations, systems, and societies in the world and is the context for group-level analysis. In the conference system, learning is experiential and based on reflection-in-action, which means that there will be no presentations given by experts to direct and organize one’s learning. Instead, learning occurs when participants focus on their experiences in the moment, and using their experience as evidence, dialogue with others to negotiate meaning and boundaries in real time.

Participants will gain insight into the conscious and unconscious processes that influence their leadership style. This learning is done in the context of the evolving and changing culture of the conference system and through the inter-personal and inter-group relations that develop within the conference as an organization.

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A diverse membership creates the possibility for rich learning. To that end, we welcome individuals who represent a cross section of the community who are interested in the study of authority, power, justice, and hierarchies of the collective mind, body, and spirit. The conference is designed to be a single integrated educational experience. Individuals who know in advance that they are unable to attend all sessions are discouraged from applying. Anyone who must leave for any reason is requested to inform the administration.

* The dynamics of managing boundaries, authority, role, and task.
* How groups and individuals interpret, use, and work with information.
* The unconscious ways individuals and groups in organizations and systems are connected.
* How perceptions of social characteristics and identities can influence role-taking and the process of authorization.
* When the group propels me to be an agent of change and when the group or I resist change.
* How to manage myself in role in a constantly changing environment.
* The similarities and differences between authority, power, and leadership.
* How to work with competition, collaboration, conflict, coalition-building, and delegation.
* When the group mind, body, or spirit pulls me to act on its behalf and what occurs if I do something else.

* The connections and disconnections between the process of authorization and taking up authority.
* How to apply what I learn to situations back home.

Systematically investigating aspects of conference experience facilitates multi-dimensional and multi-perspectivist discoveries about learning through change. In the current world, data may be collected about groups and individuals with or without explicit consent. In contrast, participants in this conference have the opportunity to voluntarily participate in pre- and post-conference surveys by signing an informed consent document.

Our research team and conference staff will follow the rules and ethics of confidentiality and refrain from disclosing personally identifying information in presentations or publications that interpret data about how we learn in groups. In addition, participants will have the option to receive direct individual feedback about their pre- and post-conference learning through their own survey results.

During the conference, Seth Harkins and Janice Wagner will be observing staff meetings and select events in the role of researcher. Tracy Wallach will do post-conference research, but during the conference she will be in a consulting role.

Special note: The conference is an educational endeavour and does not provide psychotherapy or sensitivity training. Although the experiential learning available can be stimulating and enriching, it can be emotionally demanding as well. Thus, applicants who are ill or experiencing significant personal difficulties should forgo participating at this time.What can I learn from this Conference?

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The conference is organized as a series of events that provide opportunities to learn through the examination of experience in a variety of social contexts. The events will begin and end promptly at the times designated. A schedule will be provided at registration. Conference events include:

Opening and Closing Plenaries
These sessions open and close the conference, providing an opportunity for members and staff to express their thoughts and feelings on crossing the boundary from the outside environment into the conference in the opening plenary, and from the conference back to the outside environment in the closing plenary.

Here and Now Small and Large Study Groups
Small study groups provide an opportunity to learn about dynamics in small groups that resemble the size of teams and committees. The small study group consists of no more than 12 members with one or two staff consultants.

In contrast, large study groups provide an opportunity to study the systemic forces and dynamics that arise in large groups, such as groups in society where it is difficult or impossible to know or see every member face-to-face. A team of consultants will work with the large study group. The task of the small and large study groups is to study the conscious and unconscious dynamics of the group as they arise in the moment.
Institutional Event
The Institutional Event (IE) takes place during several sessions and provides an opportunity to study institutional forces that arise as different groups form and interact with each other. During the IE, members form their own groups and determine how they want to achieve their learning task.

The primary task is to explore the relationships between groups within the conference system and in relation to the theme of the conference.

Systems Navigation and Satellite Maps
During the conference, staff and members will have a space to illustrate experience and share emerging information. The task of the space is to explore the state of the conference system through creative expression. The purpose of the space is to access conscious and unconscious dynamics through different means and forms of collective communication.

​Network of Dreams and Associations
Members and staff participate in this event. The task is to explore the state of the conference system through dreams and reflections. The purpose of the event is to access unconscious as well as conscious dynamics through shared images, associations, and sources of mind-body-spirit data for the system as a whole.

​Role/Review/Application Group
The task of these groups is to provide members the opportunity to reflect on their experiences in conference events, and to begin to apply the learning to life outside the conference.


Suma Jacob  PhD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Director of Autism Research, multidisciplinary team programs in developmental,
clinical and social neuroscience. Adjunct Faculty at Mayo Clinic. Member, Group Relations International (GRI). Member, A.K. Rice Institute.

Associate Director
Evangeline Sarda  JD
Associate Clinical Professor of Law, Boston College Law School. Director, Prosecution Clinic; Co-Director, Criminal Justice Clinic. Co-creator, Group Relations International (GRI) and Group Relations International-East (GRI-E). Treasurer, the Research and Education Collaborative with Al-Quds University (RECA). Cohort 16, Boston College Leadership for Change Program. Past Postgraduate Fellow, Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis (MIP). Member, New York Center. Member, A.K. Rice Institute.

Associate Director of Administration
Tyler Bean  CPA
Senior Consultant, Fraud Investigation and Dispute Services, EY LLP. Member, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Graduate of Boston College Carroll School of Management. Member, Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems (CSGSS).

Assistant Administrator
Amber Conley  MS, MBA, MS
Organizational Development Consultant. Adjunct Faculty at Endicott College and William James College. Licensed Practitioner, The Kantor Institute. Leadership Psychology Doctoral Student (expected 2019), William James College. Holds graduate degrees in computer science, business and organizational psychology. Member, Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems (CSGSS). Member, A. K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems (AKRI).

Consultants will be drawn from the following
Justin Brogden  JD
Title IX Investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Principal at Brogden Legal. Private Attorney for the Committee for Public Counsel Services Children and Family Law Division. Bachelor of Arts, Oberlin College. Juris Doctor, Boston College Law School.

Frank Dwyer,  MA, MPA, MSt, MSW
Member of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board. Consults to police departments throughout the United States. Served for 30 years in the New York City Police Department. Holds graduate degrees in literature, public administration, criminology, and social work. Member, New York Center. Member, A.K. Rice Institute.

Patrick Jean-Pierre  PsyD
Deputy Assistant Director, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, University at Albany. Small Group Instructor, University of Pennsylvania. Former Director of Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality at Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, New York University. Member, New York Center. Member, A.K. Rice Institute.

Kate Regan  PhD
President, Kairos Consulting Group. Proprietor, The Spruce Moose Inn, Roslyn, WA. Board of Directors, Washington Outdoor School. Trained Facilitator, Family Systems Constellations. Former Research Specialist, University of California, Berkeley, School of Social Welfare, the Mack Center for Non-profit Leadership. Doctorate, Organizational Psychology, The Wright Institute, Berkeley, CA. MA, Religion, Fordham University, NY.

Tracy Wallach,  PhD, LICSW
Senior Lecturer, College of Management; Gender, Leadership, and Public Policy Program, University of Massachusetts, Boston. Organizational Development and Leadership Consultant, Brookline, MA. Past President and Member, Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems (CSGSS). Associate and former Board Member, A. K. Rice Institute. Associate and co-organizer, Group Relations International-East (GRI-East)

Seth Harkins  EdD
Principal Harkins Educational Consulting and Advocacy, Palatine, IL. Adjunct Professor, National Louis University, Chicago, IL. Chair Board of Directors, Illinois Community and Residential Services Authority. Board of Directors, Chicago Virtual Charter School, Chicago, IL. Executive Director and Board of Directors, Serenity Academy Chicago. Member and Past President, Chicago Center for the Study of Groups and Organizations. Member and Vice President, Midwest Group Relations Center. Member, A.K. Rice Institute.

Janice Wagner  LICSW
Private Psychotherapy Practice, Boston, MA. Volunteer for the Asylum Program, Cambridge Legal and Counseling Center, Cambridge, MA. Past-President and Member, Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems (CSGSS). Associate, A.K. Rice Institute.

Tracy Wallach  PhD, LICSW
Senior Lecturer, College of Management; Gender, Leadership, and Public Policy Program, University of Massachusetts, Boston. Organizational Development and Leadership Consultant, Brookline, MA. Past President and Member, Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems (CSGSS). Associate and former Board Member, A. K. Rice Institute. Associate and co-organizer, Group Relations International-East (GRI-East)

Michelle S. May   D Litt et Phil
Professor, Department Industrial and Organisational Psychology (IOP), University of South Africa (UNISA). Manager, Consulting Psychology Doctoral Programme (IOP, UNISA). Co-ordinator, Research Focus Areas Systems psychodynamics and Socio–analytic Methods (IOP, UNISA). Clinical psychologist registered with Health Profession Council South Africa. Director Robben Island Diversity Experience (2002 to 2014). Executive Member, Interest Group in Systems Psychodynamics of Organisations (IGSPO) under the auspices of the Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology South Africa (SIOPSA).

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Info and Fees

Friday, March 23 to Sunday, March 25

Friday 3:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Saturday 8:00 am - 7:30 pm
Sunday 8:00 am - 6:00 pm

Registration will take place 3:30 pm - 3:50 pm on Friday,
March 23 at Boston College.

Light refreshments will be available at each break.
Aside from a light dinner on Friday, March 23,
meals are the responsibility of members.
The conference is non-residential.

Those who require assistance in securing overnight accommodations
should contact

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Payment Terms

$475 Basic Fee/ General Public
$400 Public Interest Practitioner / Boston College Staff / Part-Time Students*

$350 Full-Time Students*

Early Bird Discount of $75 if application and payment is received by February 15, 2018.

*Please provide a student ID picture with registration.

Send applications and checks (payable to "Authority Workshop") to:

Tyler Bean
200 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA 02116

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A limited number of partial scholarships are available on an individual basis to assist with financial challenges, based on need and on the overall enrolment of the conference.

Please contact to inquire about scholarships/discounts early, before registration reaches capacity.

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Web Sites

Application form at end of brochure:
Conference website:

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Booking Form

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