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on Wed, 09/29/2010 - 14:35

Why We’re Here

The earth cries out for a new story—a story of a world that works for everyone.

Such a story invites us to consider there is more that unites us than divides us. Not only do we have a common genetic inheritance, we have a common cultural inheritance founded on a deep set of shared aspirations—for security, for the wellbeing of our loved ones, and for full participation in the possibilities of life.

These aspirations lead us to understand that effective stewardship of the biosphere is essential, that societal responsibilities must balance short-term and long-term requirements, and that informed citizens can effectively self-organize to manage their affairs.

The actualization of these aspirations is best served by a vibrant appreciation of the global commons—the rich reservoir of natural and cultural resources upon which we depend for life. The Commons Learning Alliance is dedicated to enabling people to deepen their understanding of and participate in the global commons.


The Learning Commons

The Commons Learning Alliance offers four different but interrelated spaces.

1. The Library. This is a collection of downloadable, annotated resources related to various dimensions of the Commons. Here you can find articles, research papers, links to books, videos, and websites, and other knowledge assets. Commoners are encouraged to add assets to the library so that they can be shared with others.

2. The Community Knowledge Garden. In this space there are a range of commons-related documents organized by subject areas and tagged for easy find and reference. This is a Creative Commons-protected, open-source space where you can browse, quote, add-to, reuse, repurpose or even remix resources.

3. The Learning Space. This is a learning environment where Commons educators offer two kinds of online course:

a. E-learning courses on the commons. Some courses are introductory, others cover more advanced topics. Some course are free, others have a modest tuition to cover expenses.
b. Social learning courses that emphasize mutual exploration and shared innovation. As we learn together, we grow our collective intelligence.

4. Common Matters. This is an interaction center that hosts conversations about anything relating to the Commons, including the collaborative development of the Commons Learning Alliance itself. It is also a space where communities of practice can meet.


How We Work and Play Together

1. It’s a Commons. The Commons Learning Alliance is itself a commons. This requires each of us to take responsibility for making the alliance as valuable a resource as possible. We do this by making suggestions for improvements, contributing where possible, volunteering to teach a course or lead a discussion group, and recommending the Alliance to others.

2. It’s Open Source. This means that the assets and courses on the site belong to all the members of the commons. You can use these assets in your own work, as well as distribute them to others.

3. Relationships Matter. The commons comes alive through relationships—the lively interactions that we have with each other. We learn from each other, challenge each other, help each other. In doing so, we come to appreciate the Big Assumption.

4. The Big Assumption. The Commons Learning Alliance operates with an understanding that all life is an indivisible unity. And this unity is a priori or prior to any divisions or difference-making mental or social structures that we tend to overlay on reality. In practice, this means that our decisions, behaviors, and actions take the totality into account, and we operate for the good of the whole.

5. Practically Speaking. The Commons Learning Alliance requires money and energy to keep going, add new things, and serve more people. Anyone can browse the resources in the library. To download or upload resources or to participate in courses or discussions, you simply join as a member. There is no membership fee for individual commoners (some courses have tuition) but everyone is asked to make a donation.


Who Is Involved and Invited

The Commons Learning Alliance is a growing worldwide community.

First, and foremost, it consists of commoners who want to expand their knowledge of the Commons, draw on and contribute to the collective intelligence of this global movement.

It also consists of commons educators who host and facilitate courses on commons-related matters. Educators are encouraged to use the library resources and courses in their own work.

There is a hosting team that is coordinating the development of the platform and its community knowledge garden.

There are institutional members of the Commons Learning Alliance, and they support the Alliance with annual fees. Current institutional members include the Anthroposphere Institute and the University of Notre Dame’s Global Commons Initiative.

And, lastly, there is a Co-Governance Council. The council’s responsibilities include editorial and design decisions, fund raising, and recruiting new institutional members.

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