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Hierarchies of the Collective

Mind Body Spirit

Friday 29th March 2019 - Sunday 31st March 2019

Boston College, Chestnut Hill, USA

Group Relations Conference Series at Boston College

Primary Task
Role of Staff
Info & Fees
Payment Terms
Web Sites


Dear Prospective Participant

In a world of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, our
collective choices are influenced by unconscious hierarchies and networks that
arise from cultural fears and desires. As a neuroscientist, I am intrigued by
how we make decisions. What fuels our choices that result in binary actions of
for or against, faster or slower, and yes or no? How are we a microcosm of
the macrocosm?

Join us this year to deepen our understanding of group mind and how each of
us are pulled in and out of roles that shape group outcomes . . .

With our tribal and evolutionarily-influenced behaviors, how do groups and
organizations adapt to new technologies and virtual connections? As a
physician, I realize that our heart, gut, and sweaty palms inform our brains
about danger and safety --
. . . and how our collective body, the container and boundary of each group,
grows more complex as we move from concrete physical to virtual time and

What are an organization’s parts and whole with both physical and virtual
boundaries? What are realities and structures in groups, where do our
primitive drives erupt, and who/what contribute to the physical leaders and
followers that emerge? As a physician scientist, I continue to be intrigued by
what we cannot measure or quantify in contrast to what we can. Why do
groups do what they do? What is repeated or done with meanings made
from representations and the unknown? With experience and humility, we see
more that is mysterious and attempt to integrate multiple dimensions.

The spirit explores “the whole that is greater than the sum of its parts”.

Hierarchies of the Collective: Mind Body Spirit is a unique Group Relations
Conference in the Tavistock tradition that studies the rise, shifts and flow of
authority and leadership dynamics through our experience of our collective
mind, body, and spirit. Focusing on what is above and below the surface of
our consciousness, we will listen to the different perspectives and experiences
that our bodies, mind and spirit reveal. Analogous to how our
first/second/third person perspectives add depth to our language
communication, our spirit/body/mind offer different and sometimes
conflicting perspectives that deepen our understanding of community and self.

Our daily lives are filled with such complexity and diversity. How can we work
with and honor our splits while simultaneously seeking integration?

Effective leadership requires more than taking a stance on one side or the
other regarding what is observed to be real. Leadership for change requires
knowing when to separate and integrate mind/body/spirit, managing the
resulting personal and collective ambivalence, confusion and chaos, and
learning how to hold oneself steady to navigate, both above and below the
surface, through the shifting prisms and shadows of our personal and
collective perspectives and conflicting experiences. We will explore the light
and shadow side of leadership and followership and consider how we can be
accountable for the political impact that our collective actions and inactions
have on current systemic dynamics

We invite you to share this information with individuals and groups who will be
interested in attending this upcoming conference. If you want to develop your
capacity to lead with mind, body and spirit: Join us!

Suma Jacob, MD, PhD
Conference Director

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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
and is expressed in mind, body and spirit.

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 in our complex world and is
expressed in mind, body and spirit.

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The Learning Aims:
  • The dynamics of managing boundaries, authority, role, and task
  • The implicit hierarchies in the room and in the group’s culture and how hierarchies and culture develop in real time in this conference
  • The group mind, body and spirit
  • How perceptions of social characteristics and identities can influence role-taking and the process of authorization and whether uncommon characteristics are ignored or overemphasized
  • How groups and individuals interpret, use, and work with complex information and how complexity leads to cross-categorization where more assumptions are made, things overlooked and stereotypes perpetuated
  • How to manage myself in role in a constantly changing environment
  • How to work with the group mind, body, or spirit when it pulls me to act on its behalf; what occurs if I do something else? How do I work with the mind, body, spirit of myself and the group?
  • The similarities and differences between authority, power, and leadership
  • How to work with competition, collaboration, conflict, coalition-building, and delegation
  • The connections and disconnections between the process of being authorized and taking up authority and what to do when these do not align
  • How to apply what I learn to situations back at home, work, and my communities

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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.

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 postconference
surveys by signing an informed consent document.

Our researcher 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 will be observing staff meetings and
select events in the role of researcher.

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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.

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.

Continuing Education:

The conference has been approved for 20 Social Work Continuing Education hours for relicensure, in accordance with 258
CMR. Collaborative of NASW and the Boston College and Simmons Schools of Social Work Authorization Number D 80404.
Please contact the administrative team at by Wednesday, March 27 if you are seeking credit.

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Role of Staff

Staff design and manage the conference as a whole and
take up consulting roles during conference events.

As management, staff serve the primary task by managing
the boundaries of conference events, particularly in relation
to time, task and territory. Staff do not manage the
participants or their behavior, but instead collectively
manage the boundary conditions that allow the participants
freedom to engage the primary task as they choose and as
they authorize themselves and each other to do.

As consultants, staff serve the primary task by linking their
own experiences to the activities of the conference and
offering working hypotheses and reflections that explore the
unconscious aspects of the organizational behavior that is
emerging. In these roles, staff are actively involved in the life
of the conference.

Their interpretations focus on group level dynamics rather
than on the individual, and on unconscious as well as conscious
dynamics. Attempting to articulate unconscious group level
dynamics is an unusual activity and may seem strange to
those unfamiliar with this approach.

The ways in which staff work are always open for
examination. A final list of staff will be provided at

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The conference is conceived to be a temporary learning organization, or system, that is made up of subsystems, and is set within the larger
systems surrounding the conference. In this way, the events of the conference are embedded within and serve as a microcosm of larger
organizations, systems, and societies in the world and are subject to the same level of complexity, uncertainty, change and ambiguity.

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. Each event is considered to be a subsystem within the conference-as-a-whole. The events begin and end promptly at the
times designated. A schedule will be provided at registration.


Opening & 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

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 uncons

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

System 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 & 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.

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Suma Jacob  MD, PhD

Associate Director
Evangeline Sarda  JD

Director of Administration
Tyler Bean  CPA, CFE

Yaro Fong-Olivares  MS

Jared Wright  

Consultants will be drawn from the following
Justin Brogden  JD

Frank Dwyer  MA, MPA, MSt, MSW

René Molenkamp  PhD

Kate Regan  PhD

Janice Wagner  LICSW

Yousef Alajarma  PhD

Luisa Ehrich  LICSW

Seth Harkins  EdD

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Info and Fees

For an application form go to:

Conference Fees

Basic Fee / General Public $475
Public Interest Practitioner / Boston College Staff / Part-Time Students* $400
Full time Students* $350
*Please provide a student ID picture with registration.

Date and Time

Friday, March 29 to Sunday, March 31

Friday 1:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Saturday 8:00 am – 7:30 pm
Sunday 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

Registration will take place 1:00-1:20 PM on
Friday, March 29 at Boston College.

Meals and Lodging
Light refreshments will be available at each
break. Aside from a light dinner on Friday,
March 29, 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

Send application and checks
(payable to "Authority Workshop") to:
Tyler Bean
EY LLP 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 enrollment of the conference.
Please contact to inquire about scholarships/discounts early, before registration reaches

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Web Sites


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