Friday, 16 December 2016

Building the Credit Commons - 1st Money and Society Summit

On December 12th, IFLAS, Community Forge and Complementary Currency Resource Centre hosted a free event for alumni of the University's free online course, and other interested persons.

The course and summit looked at the potential for innovation in currency and credit to promote sustainable development. In particular, the summit focused on the concept of building a "Credit Commons" whereby people and organisations can issue credit to each other in ways that enable trade and sharing without needing access to money or having to pay interest.

Co-author of the online course, Matthew Slater, presented this concept (video here). Professor Bendell facilitated the meeting, which convened 25 people from across the region.  He drew on their joint UN paper on collaborative credit systems, to set the scene of currency innovation for sustainable development.



One of the questions from a Bitcoin proponent led to discussion which inspire Matthew to write a blog on what cryptocurrency enthusiasts could learn from old school monetary activists and local currency practitioners, who have been working on this topic for a decade or more.

The discussions focused on how to engage people in an idea and initiative that are still very new. Three ways that people are becoming interested in the concept and project to build the Credit Commons were discussed. 

First, some people are (or will be) working on complementary currencies or collaborative credit systems, and want to align their work with the credit commons for mutual benefit.

Second, some people are interested in applying their skills, resources or networks to develop the credit commons concept and initiative.

Third, some people are interested in simply staying updated on how this initiative progresses.

For the first group, recommendations on how to engage include:
1 - read the credit commons whitepaper
2 - study the Money and Society MOOC (next iteration Feb 17th 2017)
3 - use a self assessment tool to help align your own work on complementary currencies with building the Credit Commons (this tool is in preparation)
4 - share your insights, for instance by a blog, on any changes in approach, software or governance to align your efforts with building the credit commons and send to matslats at fastmail dot com
5 - register your initiative on www.creditcommons.net and add a Credit Commons Champion badge to your website and app (linking to www.creditcommons.net); this registration system and badge will be launched in the new year
6 - include in future funding proposals the budget for upgrading systems to be able to relate to a future Credit Commons clearing system on a blockchain

For the second group, recommendations on how to engage include:
1 - read the Credit Commons whitepaper
2 - study the Money and Society MOOC (next iteration Feb 17th 2017)
3 - clarify what skills, resources or networks you can offer to the key functions of either communications, software development, fundraising or organisational development/management, to what degree (how much unpaid time) and join the Credit Commons task force by sharing these offers on an online Slack group (email matslats at fastmail dot com to request an invite)
4 - tell other relevant people about the whitepaper, MOOC and activities of the Credit Commons and work on things agreed within the slack  

For, the third group, recommendations on how to engage include:
1 - read the Credit Commons whitepaper
2 - if still interested, email matslats at fastmail dot com to request asking to be kept uptodate (rather than join the task force)

For any interested persons who want to deepen their knowledge and become qualified in the topic, then the 5 day residential Certificate in Sustainable Exchange starts in London on April 19th 2017. 

The 2017 Money and Society Summit will take place on April 22nd 2017, at the University's London Docklands Campus. It is free but only open to alumni of the Money and Society MOOC and relevant practitioners. It will focus on ideas for better communicating the Credit Commons and relevant collaborative credit initiatives. It is hosted by Professor Bendell, Matthew Slater and Leander Bindewald. To register, email iflas@cumbria.ac.uk

To sign up to the Money and Society MOOC (a free online course starting again February 17th 2017), see here.

A Year of Leadership Research and Commentary at the University of Cumbria

For many people 2016 was a year for wondering how we end up with the leaders we have. Some respond to that concern by calling for more and better leadership. At the University of Cumbria, leadership development has been a cross-cutting theme of our work for years, due to our focus on the public professions. With the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) we extend that into the field of private sector management, supporting the performance of business leaders in addressing social and environmental issues.

Resignation
Although primarily focused on education, the University of Cumbria is increasingly active in research on leadership and its development. The following are some of the highlights of our research outputs in 2016.

Leading schools is a key task in any country, and difficult within a context of budget cuts. Dr Paul Cammack, Senior Lecturer with our Institute of Education, worked on a new ‘Guide for the Evaluation of School Leaders’. This was an output from an Erasmus+ Project called ‘Evaluation of School Leaders and Teachers’ Practice’ with School Inspectors from Italy, Basque Country in Spain, Italy, Romania, Lithuania and the Open University, Cyprus. You can read more about the project here and follow them on twitter. Also in the education sector, Dr Sally Elton-Chalcraft presented research with Cumbria colleagues on the use of coaching techniques in leadership, at the British Educational Research Association. Sally can be contacted here for a copy.

At IFLAS, one of our research activities is to chronicle the leadership development practices we use on the suite of MBA programmes taught out of Ambleside. The Institute Manager Philippa Chapman and Dr Grace Hurford presented lessons from that on the University’s “Perspectives in Experiential Learning in Higher Education” conference last March. To read about this approach, contact Philippa.
As a Professor with IFLAS, I continued to develop a theory of sustainability leadership, working with Dr Neil Sutherland of UWE and Richard Little of Impact International. In the process, I presented a conference paper on the impasse in leadership studies, which is available here. In a related vein, we are now in the final stages of editing a special issue of the Sustainability Accounting Management and Policy Journal (SAMPJ) on Leadership and Sustainability.

That special issue came out of the Leading Wellbeing Festival in 2015, and in 2016 IFLAS continued to work with the Brathay Trust on curating engaged scholarship in this field, with the “Leading Wellbeing in Rural Contexts” conference in November 2016. Opened by our new Vice Chancellor, Professor Julie Mennell, and co-facilitated by IFLAS-associated Senior Lecturer Tony Randall, the event has inspired a special issue of the Journal of Corporate Citizenship. That will be edited by IFLAS Deputy Director Dr David Murphy, Professor Alison Marshall and Dr Elaine Bidmead, of our Cumbrian Centre for Health Technologies (CaCHeT). The deadline for abstracts is the end of January. Our 2017 event theme and date will be announced in the new year.

The UK referendum result on leaving the EU triggered a lot of debate about leadership, and there were leadership contests for the two largest parties. In the media, many refrains of leadership were heard, with ideas like “strong” leadership quoted unquestioningly. Therefore, I wrote an article for the Huffington Post that critiqued the narratives about leadership and suggested social movements require a different form. Then I was asked by the Young Global Leaders network of the World Economic Forum to share thoughts on spirituality and transformative leadership, also on the Huffington Post. I returned to some of the themes on a more conscious and reflective form of leadership in a Keynote speech on Climate Leadership, at Griffith University in Australia. I shared my background notes on the talk here.

In 2017 I begin a research project, backed by Impact International, to explore how successful leaders in business, government and civil society, who operate internationally, perceive leadership on global dilemmas, like climate change, inequality, financial crisis and extremism. I would welcome enquiries from anyone interested in cosponsoring this work to help us reach a wider audience (iflas@cumbria.ac.uk). I will be sharing some of the initial insights of this research with colleagues at a one day event “Questioning Leadership” on July 18th in Carlisle. The event is primarily for internal collaboration, and will be marketed in February, but if interested already, contact Professor Pete Boyd.

In 2017 I anticipate welcoming two new PhD students to IFLAS to work with me on leadership development in the face of environmental dilemmas. Both the sustainability and leadership fields have been pervaded by ideas of potency and positivity. At first glance, that may sound sensible. But  in our research, we will be exploring how this framing is being shaken by recent information, and how it might even be restricting creative and collective responses. These PhD students will join a growing team, including Jo Chaffer, who started with IFLAS in 2016 to conduct doctoral research on leadership development through outdoor influences on identity.

If interested in experiencing our approach to leadership development, I recommend our 6 day course in September, which forms the start of either a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Leadership or the new MA in Leadership Development. We were delighted that a senior leadership trainer at Impact wrote an article explaining why, in his opinion it is such a good course for reflective professionals. You can see a video of where we are based and why study with us here. If interested, please get in touch via iflas@cumbria.ac.uk 

I look forward to engaging in 2017.
Professor Jem Bendell
Founder, IFLAS