CMMI Fellows

One of the Institute’s priorities is to promote research and practices on selected topics that take a “communication perspective” and contribute to making better social worlds. By “taking a communication perspective,” we mean projects that treat communication as substantive (an important phenomenon in its own right, not just a means of transmitting information about other things) and constitutive (its characteristics generate the social worlds in which we live). Every year we select fellows according to the following criteria:

  • a scholar and/or practitioner
  • who demonstrates an appreciative understanding of what it means to take and apply a “communication perspective” and
  • finds creative and impactful ways of using a “communication perspective” to address real-world challenges.

Each prospective fellow accepts the responsibility of addressing a challenge in the designated topic/theme for the year and for leading a discussion of their ideas at the annual Learning Exchange. Following this presentation we will offer other opportunities for collaborating with others on your proposal. At the end of the fellowship we ask for a publishable-quality paper and a webinar presentation.

The fellows program is a joint partnership with Columbia University. For more information:

Barton Beuchner bartonbeuchner@gmail.com

Ilene Wasserman iwasserman@icwconsulting.com

Fellows 2021

Yusaka Yajima


Dr. Yusaku Yajima (Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale) is an assistant professor in the school of humanities at University of Louisiana, Monroe. He is the author of two books: Becoming (Un)Desirable (Kendall Hunt, 2020) and考える虫 (本の研究社, 2022), as well as a number of journal articles, encyclopedia/book chapters, and magazine essays. He has taught in 4 countries (France, Finland, Japan, and the U.S.).

Fellows Project:

What does it look like to (re)construct a figure of our institutionalization of knowing rhetorically and epistemologically as ethical mediators of/for social justice in English hegemonic higher education—without dehumanizing or entertaining the powerful/established? This is the question I discuss in this project (i.e., Swimming with/against the normalization of English hegemony within higher education: Rhetorical and epistemological possibilities) while standing at the crossroad of ambiguous possibilities and fatalities due in part to the pandemic and new forms of communication brought by it.

Lilya Shienko


Lilya Shienko is a Canadian Doctorate student and graduate of Adler University’s M.A. program in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. She has a Bachelor’s degree of Science in Psychology and Business Studies from MacEwan University. She is currently interested in research concerning how technology (mainly social media) affect student and employee well-being and performance. Other research interests include, but are not limited to, bullying, trauma, mental health in organizations, mindfulness, burnout, and effects of stress on performance and cardiac health.

Fellows Project:

My project’s original intent was to explore how online social interaction can mirror the sense of belonging and support that in person communication provides. Learning about CMM principles has led me to seek out a tangible solution (rather than purely theoretical) for the loneliness and alienation that some individuals experience in purely online educational/work platforms since the COVID-19 outbreak. My proposal is to utilize CMM as a theoretical foundation for building features on educational/work online environments (such as LMS) that will serve as a CMM inspired space for interaction tailored directly to users’ social needs (UX research will help us uncover these needs). This online space will be where individuals from educational and work groups can connect, discuss their interests, where events are continuously hosted that foster belonging in organizations, team building exercises, groups can be formed based on hobbies, and most importantly a safe space to discuss openly how social media affects one another whether positively or negatively. I believe having open discussions about this will stimulate connections, growth, and most importantly healthy dialogue. My goal is to design a space that will unite individuals in organizations more than on a professional level to teach them that they are not alone in these professional spaces, the more they speak and share their perspectives, the more connected they will feel towards others despite each experiencing a different social world.

I also want to take this opportunity to provide small teachings or resources on the platform that show teachings of CMM in these environments so that individuals can learn at their pace and discuss findings amongst each other. The more individuals will learn about CMM, the more meaningful and open dialogue will be in this online environment. As a result, through open discussion new relationships will be built that will learn to accept or at least understand new narratives (without necessarily agreeing). We may not convey our thoughts online the same as we do in person and I know change doesn’t happen over one day despite the education on CMM concepts… But with the continuous learning and practice of CMM in daily online life and mindful research that utilizes CMM principles in its core processes, I aim to create an online work/educational community that will serve as a symbol of unity, a reflection of its users’ social needs, thoughts, and behaviors in the online space; as well as intersection of all of the different backgrounds and their connection to CMM.

Indirectly, I would like to hypothesize that the quality of mental health and individual well-being will improve as online communication improves, becomes more meaningful and personal and individuals become more equipped in using the online conversational tools with consciousness.

Solomon Atilade Adebayo


Solomon Adebayo is a Nigerian and graduate of M.Sc in Statistics from the University of Ibadan and a Bachelors degree in Operations Research from the Federal University of Technology, Yola, Nigeria. Currently a Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria with duties cutting across sub-Saharan African countries. He is passionate about participatory action research approaches for data generation and data uses in the context of development for an improved social world through a better understanding of organizational and human development and the interconnectedness relationships between employers and employees. Solomon has worked extensively in areas of monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning of human capital development initiatives including health and education and recently in food and nutrition security, and sustainable agriculture.

Fellows Project:

The aim of the project is to better understand what drives the employer-employee relationship during the COVID-19 pandemic as they respond to the challenge posed by the plague. The project seeks to better understand the reasons why adherence to organization precautionary instructions to limit the impact of pandemic falls short of full compliance by employees. We also seek to explore whether workers are persuaded that organizations/employers are genuine in their care when they provided the precautionary instruction to support their adherence to the COVID-19 precautions. Additional questions that this study seeks to address are: what other ways has the employer responded to the health needs of workers during COVID that they care? Did the employers go beyond the provision of information to meeting critical workers’ needs as they face challenges from COVID just to show employers care beyond information provision?
We hypothesized that worker perceives the efforts of the employers as just mere pretence to safeguard their business. The project also argues that where compassionate communication is the center of the relationship between the employer and employee willingness to comply with instruction will be prompt, fully and total since the advice will be seen as being support for their health.

I plan to use methods like Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) to co-create a change in the organization in a participatory action research approach. My expectation is that this would generate a unique case study where compassionate communication, communication theory and method, in the context of the pandemic, and an organizational case study can combine to make a change in the real world and contribute to the literature.

I opined that majority of organizations are still stuck in a utilitarian mode and might be interesting to better understand this within a specific cultural, social, and historical context for Nigeria and within the wider context of Africa and where possible, globally.

Fellows 2020

Ralph Banks
Software Consultant, San Diego, CA

Fellows Project:
Intentional Flow: Practicing Cosmopolitan Communication in Challenging Circumstances

This project is a response to the question, “what would an Aikido form of communication look like?” Which led to the questions, “how might it be learned?” and “who would develop and teach it?” This Fellows project explores potential of developing Aikido as a heuristic of Cosmopolitan Communication through a series of workshops for high school/young adult aged persons.

Aikido is a relatively new martial art that is distinguished by a commitment to not harm the opponent while ensuring one’s own safety. Aikido translates as [the way] (do) to [harmonize] (ai) with ki (energy). This mutual preservation is taken not just as a choice by Aikidoists, but as a responsibility—powerful pacifism. The general flow Aikido is to come from a “centered” place, and respond to attacks by joining with the attacker, moving out of the attack and redirecting the energy in a way that Secures the opponent in a safe position. The practitioner views the attacker as having broken harmony with the Universe…and restoring harmony (not obliterating the attacker) is the goal of the response. Framed in terms of Cosmopolitan Communication, the parallels are that resources are placed in state of openness, coordination is privileged.

The term intentional flow is meant to honor the flow while also claiming agency to exert influence with peace operating at the highest level of logical force. Through training/practice we can develop a prefigurative force that enable us to respond without thinking…making it seemingly natural to practice Cosmopolitan Responses. Even in difficult moments.

Sarah Bunting
Goddard College
Communication Educator and Ayurvedic Consultant, Wilson, Wyoming

Fellows Project
The Communication Dojo in Cosmopolis: Course Curriculum

This proposal envisions a rigorous 8-step curriculum that supports the collective capacity of a community (such as Cosmopolis 2045) to live wisely into the everyday critical moments, large and small, that shape our social worlds. This curriculum draws on CMM along with wisdom traditions to engage embodied, transdisciplinary, experiential learning, conducted in appropriate spaces to practice these skills together, and imagine better social worlds.

Nicole Drepaul
Columbia University AC4 Program

Fellows Project Title
Understanding How To Improve and Sustain International Peace Agreements by analyzing the Negotiation Discourse in The Kashmir and Colombia Conflicts

This research project is based on analysis of why specific peace agreements involving Kashmir and Columbia failed or succeeded. This research can aid those in armed international conflict to resolve conflict through better procedural, creative, and productive lenses. The research methodology used is a Participative Action Research (PAR) model which draws on the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) values of coherence, coordination and mystery and dialogic and cosmopolitan communication as heuristics to analyze surveys, dialogue, and narrative storytelling. The results of this PAR inquiry were used to construct daisy models, the serpentine model, and the LUUUUTT model, which model the trajectory of discourse occurring throughout the conflict. Usage of the LUUUUTT model is used for noticing dominant, non-dominant, and shifts in narratives. A serpentine model is used to deconstruct the dialogue used in negotiation in peace agreements and in communities with different ideologies. Lastly, the daisy model is used to model the inherent needs and interests of stakeholders each having conflictual stances. Acknowledging these effects can allow us to change our variables and communication styles to build better peace agreements. It also indicates participatory change in the conflict.

Hossein Kaviani, PhD
PG Research Supervisor, University of East London

Preparation for running a CosmoKidz-related workshop for Afghan adolescents

We are interested to examine the potential role of education and training in enhancing psycho-social characteristics including empathy, theory of mind, compassion and tolerance in Afghanistan among adolescents, using a specifically designed training package mainly inspired from Cosmokidz. The underlying assumption here is that the key to creating a sustainable and peaceable world is learning. (Sterling, 2015). We believe that specifically designed training and education would influence these psycho-social characteristics which would potentially influence people’s political tendencies including support for democratic values. Cosmopolitan, civic and effective communication entails developing abilities for awareness/mindfulness of our social worlds, effective listening, empathy, regulation of strong feelings and emotions, tolerance and acceptance of differences, and managing conflicts and disagreements in productive ways. These so-called “soft skills” can set out the ground for a diverse, tolerant community to work together rather peacefully to address problems (Pearce, 1989; 1994; 1997; 2007; Spano, 2001).

We decided to introduce this specifically designed package to Afghan society. For this to happen, we plan to train a number of instructors who would help us conduct this particular training among a sample of Afghan adolescents. Furthermore, we aim to use qualitative and quantitative measures to explore the instructors’ and adolescents’ feedback on the training package, based on which necessary cultural and linguistic adaptations will be made before the package can be used in a larger population in future research.

Our future study aims to examine the potential role of education and training in changing psycho-social characteristics which turned out to underpin adherence to democratic values. We are currently seeking fund sources to support our research on how specifically related training and education would influence these psycho-social characteristics and, as a result, people’s political tendencies including support for democratic values. Knowledge of the factors that underpin adherence to democracy can inform educational strategies as well as a range of non-academic beneficiaries, including the media, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the public.

Amy McDonald and Katrina Telles (Group project)
Educators, Oracle AZ School District

Educators who SOAR

Teaching young minds requires more than a knowledge of child development and content knowledge. This was emphasized with the start of the world-wide pandemic that turned the traditional education model upside down. In an instant, educators were required to create a virtual community that faced many obstacles. The social backgrounds of children became the backdrop for their education. Gone was the safe and carefully constructed classroom community. A place focused on academic and social growth. This classroom community was reduced to the size of a small screen and dropped down into a variety of different homes.

The strong social world created prior to the pandemic through daily Cosmokidz lessons, friendship circles, and deliberations were a key factor to making the disruptive change to distance learning a successful one. The pandemic has opened our eyes. With distance learning, our classroom was in multiple homes. We saw homes that were lacking respect, empathy, and compassion. We could hear the background noise before opening our cameras- parents yelling, sometimes cursing. But when the camera turned on, the student was ready to learn and behave in the way they were taught in the classroom. We also saw loving, organized, and encouraging homes. These parents reached out to acknowledge the level of compassion, love, and empathy embedded in the classroom. Emotional flexibility and the construction of social relationships are key to the classroom. When the physical construct of their community-the school and classroom- closed, these children continued constructing their social worlds by communicating online. Moving to the virtual classroom, students communicated in many verbal and nonverbal ways including written chat, the looks they gave each other, the hand signals, and smiles. The positive energy was present with laughter and engagement even when the class was on “mute”. The ability to manage student behavior while not being physically present was a testament to the socio-emotional lessons that took place prior to the pandemic. This became just another scenario of many scenarios that we practiced from CosmoKidz throughout the year. They were confident with their skills and abilities to work through the situation. They were able to frame their experience with the pandemic in terms of trade-offs and benefits as well as share their feelings.

Because the skills from Cosmo kids existed prior to the pandemic, we were able to recreate the learning environment virtually. Teachers who did not spend the time teaching those skills struggled with this change. We realized the focus needs to be on those skills that allow teachers to teach. Incorporating the CosmoKidz program over the last six years has yielded exciting results in students as well as the teachers who used it. This vision starts with sharing the program with other educators. As a way to share this learning, we envision developing a CM-based program for teachers’ conferences. Teachers attend these conferences to learn new techniques, methods, and strategies. The conference arena promises to be an excellent venue to further share these lessons from CosmoKidz as a step to envisioning blended education platforms in the post-pandemic era.

Monique Nero
Doctoral Student, University of the Virgin Islands, Creative Leadership for Innovation and Change program

Fellows Project Title
Motivated peace: From polarized narratives to sincere communication

Nicole’s project addresses the challenge of examining leadership communication for perpetuation of polarizing narratives, using CMM tools to identify these as “unwanted repetitive patterns” (URPs). This included specific situations where leaders have the opportunity to change organizational patterns that may unintentionally make some organizational members feel that they are “less than” others and not deserving of equal treatment. Her ongoing work focuses on using this awareness to help leaders generate creative approaches to creating “better” selves and organizational realities, by authentically inviting their organizations to reflect on “who are we and how shall we live?” (Pearce, 1999, p.10).

Theresa Southam, PhD,
Fielding Graduate University
2019 Recipient, Barnett Pearce CMM Scholarship

Fellows Project Title
Elders’ Wisdom Circles: What we can learn

Theresa Southam is a 2020 Fielding PhD graduate in Human and Organizational Development, and continues her research as a Fielding ISI Fellow and as a CMMI Fellow. She is coediting a book and writing a chapter for Fielding University Press on unexpected leadership including in older women. She is also contributing a chapter on “naturalizing” intergenerational relations for Sangaku Press in 2022.Theresa has contributed blog posts , book reviews and is developing a portfolio piece on allyship for the Association for Anthropology, Gerontology and the Lifecourse. Her recently published dissertation can be found here.

Theresa’s CMMI Fellowship project began with wisdom circles. The wisdom circle is an ancient form of elders coming together to support each other in their work. By utilizing their ability to travel between different and often disparate ways of knowing, elders can mend relationships and demonstrate harmonious ways of being. Over 2020 this focus shifted to crones and their leadership. A crone is someone who associates with the feminine and emphasizes connection, care, and kindness as well as forms of resistance and even activism in order to support the common good. “Croning” can be a project of self-definition and personal empowerment (Lewis McCabe, 2004) whereby the crone archetype is activated and acknowledged. Theresa’s two-part study: a phenomenography and phenomenology includes the Coordinated Management of Meaning as a means for collecting and a lens for exploring the participant responses.

This project drew upon several CMM models, including the serpentine model to analyze critical moments of elder conversations in the wisdom circle; mapping out Influences on participants using the Daisy model, and locating critical moments in the ways that storytelling unfolded using the LUUUUTT model. This rigorous and participative process has led to some insights into a phenomenon that she refers to “gerotranscendent generativity” which empowers seniors to challenge traditional social roles (including limitations and expectations) of seniors.

Rodger Johnson
Doctoral Student
Indiana University – Purdue University, indianapolis

Fellows Project
Choosing to wear a mask or not to wear a mask in the COVID-19 pandemic: Exploring stories of incommensurate health beliefs and worldviews from a communication perspective.

This project is a formal qualitative study of stories of people who choose to wear and do not wear masks in the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose or aim of the study is to identify repetitive patterns of stories that create incommensurate beliefs or worldviews that results in some form of conflict, whether it is mild disagreement among people that strains friendships, or that may lead to more violent behavior, and provide recommendations to bridge incommensurate stories, respective, personal liberties, and promote healthier behavior that lead to better wellbeing.

Hannah Quadir
Excellence Fellow, Columbia University, New York

Fellows Project Title
Breaking Down Barriers: An Inter-generational Visual and Cultural Dialogue (Between Child and Man) Through a Community-based Theatre and Performative Art Approach to Making a Better Social World

Guided by the principle of applying a ‘communication perspective’ to make a better social world, Hannah’s Fellows project explored visual art forms as a means of breaking down societal barriers and co-creating community dialogue (through) an inter-disciplinary collaboration between the subjects of art, conflict management, and social sciences. Initially investigating art forms such as painting, her project progressed into understanding the medium of photography as a tool for social change. The photograph thus became a means of communication, allowing both the observer as well as the observed to interpret the various identities, episodes, relationships and cultures that are being constructed through the patterns of communication. Hannah’s Fellows research combined creative conflict management theories with CMM tools and techniques as a means of ‘joining with the people in various systems and situations and articulating the knowledge needed to act constructively’ (Pearce, 1994). A major output of her Fellows project has been a creative publication, LOOK SEE TALK that has been well-received and circulated to galleries in Downtown Manhattan including the 4th Street Photo Gallery, an artist collective in NYC’s Lower East Side since 1972. The second phase of the project will be creation of an online web forum to allow continued community connections through using CMM.

Matthew Taylor

Fellows Project
Moving Beyond Polarized Narratives Through Mutual Aid in the Time of Covid-19 become overwhelmed. In response, mutual aid networks have popped up to meet the needs of local communities across the U.S. People from many different economic, racial, gender, political and accessibility identities have found themselves reaching out to local mutual aid networks for support, and to offer support.

The way mutual aid networks have responded to the crisis seems to offer a framing for social connection that steps outside of both of the polarizing narratives mentioned above. Framing needs and offers as inherent to every person as an entry way to communal support changes the narrative around social change from one of political platforms to one of an exploratory question: how can we all work together to make sure everyone feels supported? This framing provides an opportunity for more civic maturity in its structure (Pearce, 2003). This projects further explores how the structural formation of mutual aid networks offers our society a way forward such that we can overcome existing systems of oppression while also creating a community of people working together across differing political ideologies. Looking at these mutual aid networks from the perspective of the LUUUTT model (Pearce & Pearce,1998; Pearce, 2007), we can explore how shifts in the storytelling make shifts in our social relationships, and shifts in community more broadly.

Fellows 2019

No scholarships were offered for this year.

Fellows 2018

Lukas Herrmann is an action researcher and PhD student with Witten/Herdecke University, Germany. His research focuses on uncovering cultural trauma patterns and facilitating generative social fields through embodied systems sensing practices. At the Max-Planck-Institute for Social Neuroscience, Lukas investigated the contemplative training of perspective-taking and empathy. As a systemic counselor and trainer, he works with schools to shift education to a deeper, generative level.

Project Description: Lukas’ Fellows project seeks to advance our understanding of ‘Global Social Witnessing’ (GSW). At its core, GSW is the emergent human capacity to mindfully attend to global events with an embodied awareness, thereby creating an inner world space mirroring these events and transcending polarized narratives. A number of awareness-based practices implicitly target this capacity, both in groups (e.g., Social Presencing Theater, Systemic Constellations) and individuals (meta-meditation and other contemplative practices). The project will focus on experiential and communicative characteristics of GSW and, specifically, shed light on the communicative acts that enable and express global social witnessing.

Adrian Wagner has been consulting and facilitating workshops for international organizations such as the Red Cross, Caritas, Foreign Ministry of Germany, Goethe Institute and UNAOC and the European Commission. His interest in the MENA-region is based on his work and travel experience in Israel, Palestine, and Egypt. As a trained expert of Dr. Clare Graves emergent, cyclical, double-helix model of adult human bio-psycho-social systems development he was engaged in several initiatives such as Reinventing Brussels—a project started after the 2016 terror attack to envision a more inclusive and sustainable city. Lately, he has been working as a researcher on global governance innovation and citizen participation with the Global Cooperative Trust. Adrian Wagner is part of the Institute for Global Integral Competence and studied Public Policy at the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance in Berlin and has trained as a mediator at the Humboldt Law faculty. Currently, he is working on his dissertation, analyzing collective trauma integration in the context of the transformation towards sustainability. He likes to dance Tango Argentino, cooking and Aikido.

Collective Trauma Integration in the Light of the current US Crisis: Establishing Global Action Networks of Meaning-Making

In my research I ask the question: What have climate change, 9/11, collective trauma and the current US political situation in common? What struck me is that they are all key examples of how we succeed or fail to manage and coordinate meaning. The current research proposal, therefore, will use the CMM theory to analyze the deeper structures of meaning responsible for the current US crisis resulting in societal polarization and the dismantling of the social contract. As we are living in “processes of communication” that are “generative” and “shape us and everything in our social worlds” (Pearce, 2007), the communication perspective is used to show how polarization of communities, cities, and societies is triggered because of communicative mismanagement of meaning. Building upon the growing global complexity, the study focuses on two significant issues: climate change and terrorism, exemplified through two iconic phenomena: 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Examining cultural patterns and life scripts after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, and how these events were triggering group traumatization (Scholz, 2011), is therefore a central topic of the research. Combining a communicative perspective (CMM) and collective trauma theory (Scholz, Volkan) will allow new and vital insights into the underlying dynamics of societal fragmentation and polarization processes. In addition to a more theoretical analysis in the first part, the research will contribute to CMM as a practical theory by developing tools and instruments for collective trauma integration in the second part. In the third part, a particular focus will be given to the narrative and potential of (sanctuary) cities and how Global Action Networks, through a communicative approach, could be part of constructing solutions and new cultural patterns of global integration.

Fellows 2017

Don Waisanen is an Associate Professor in the Baruch College, CUNY Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, where he received the Presidential Award for Distinguished Teaching. He teaches courses and workshops in communication, including executive speech training, media and campaign strategy, and seminars on leadership/management and improvisation. He has published over 35 scholarly articles on communication, covering topics from strategies in public speaking to the ways that organizations and governments can better communicate with citizens. Previously, Don was a Coro Fellow and worked in broadcast journalism, as a speechwriter, and on political campaigns. He is the founder and president of Communication Upward, an adjunct lecturer at Columbia University, and received a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School.

Project Description: Don’s research takes up the task of producing a complete analytic framework of higher purposes and practices for applied improv that can, as Barnett Pearce long called for, pull societies upward. A lot has been written about what democracies should look like. Far less has covered how to actually train citizens in democratic skills. Don’s project studies how improv-based teaching and training methods, which originated in improvisational theater but have since been adapted, applied, and evolved in many other contexts, can bridge differences and promote the communication, leadership, and civic skills our world urgently needs. With measured success, “applied improvisation” has been used to train scientists, medical and pharmacy staff, engineers, state officers, business students and faculty, service employees, managers, social workers, military personnel, and countless others. Drawing from a range of work, and applying lessons from experiences teaching applied improvisation around the world, this project demonstrates how scaling applied improvisation as a philosophy and set of concrete teachings and trainings can promote cosmopolitan citizens and help us improvise our way into better social worlds.

Tracey Johnston is a Psychotherapist and has been a Director of Possibilities Counselling and Psychotherapy Centre, Aberdeen, Scotland, for the past 5 years. Tracey previously worked as a social worker and as a counsellor within the local authority and the National Health Service (NHS), before training in Systemic Psychotherapy. Tracey has a special interest in bereavement and has recently published a journal article on Spirituality and bereavement in the special issue on Spirituality in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy March 2017.

Tracey’s journal article can be viewed at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anzf.1200/abstract

Peter Robinson is a Psychotherapist at Possibilities Counselling and Psychotherapy Centre, Aberdeen, Scotland. He previously worked as a National Health Service (NHS) Psychotherapist for 20 years and, for 10 of these, was also a tutor and supervisor on the South of Scotland Cognitive Therapy Postgraduate Training Course. He is also trained in other psychotherapies, including systemic psychotherapy. He specialises in working with individuals and people in relationships. Having successfully helped many thousands of clients to manage and overcome their difficulties, open up their possibilities and create new and better ‘social worlds’, he is very excited about the opportunities CMM offers and is looking forward to  bringing this further into the community with the proposed CMM Project.

Project Description: Tracey and Peter’s project seeks to address the gap in the social world of grief and pays particular attention to the tension between traditional ‘grief work’ counselling and contemporary research and ideas about ‘continuing bonds’. The idea of continuing bonds has been prevalent in grief and bereavement research for about 30 years, yet it has not managed to penetrate the way that bereavement counselling is taught, or address society’s general discourse of the ‘correct ‘ way to grieve i.e. to ‘let go’ their loved one. Central to the work is the development of co-creating new stories and understandings with the bereaved person about their loved ones, as a way of re-connecting identities (personal, social and cultural) as resources for living. In particular the project will focus on the exploration of how these identities can be transformative for not only the individual, but how this can be shared within the extended family and community as resources for living and become an enduring legacy. The project will be undertaken by two Systemic Psychotherapists both familiar with CMM models and Social Constructionist approaches to therapy. Both therapists are experienced in working with the bereaved and use Re-membering conversations as an approach. They will use these conversations in conjunction with  CMM theory  (particularly the  LUUUUTT Model) to bring forth stories and lived experiences, as well as ideas and resources about how to go on in relationship(s), support re-connecting identities and ongoing legacies. It is anticipated that this project will bring forth multiple ways of being in the world. It will try to place an emphasis on the ways in which multiple and multi-cultural ways of being in the world, across generational relationships and time, can contribute to a richer understanding of creating better social worlds. The desired outcome is that the individual participant’s ways of holding in mind and sharing their deceased loved one, will be increased towards the co-creation of multiple resources for their families and community, in turn enhancing and strengthening family and community legacies.

Fellows 2016

Judith Enriquez-Gibson is a Senior Lecturer in Education Informatics at Liverpool John Moores University. Her work and research interests engage with various disciplinary spaces that probe the relationship between technology and education. She participates and contributes to academic conversations and topics related to e-learning and technology-enhanced learning by engaging with the neglected aspects of technology use, computer-mediated communication and open movement in education. Her recent work has focused on corporeality, that is, the place of (our) bodies in technological productions and practices. Outside her academic commitments, she does enjoy exploring the outdoors and has various attempts at reading leisurely without falling into the trappings of citations and discourse analyses.

Project Description: Drawing from practice and materialist approaches, Judith’s project focuses on how gender is embodied in nonverbal communication and how this may produce or counter inequalities in academic networking practices. The accounts or stories of full-time academics and researchers are enacted through intra-views (‘views among’), instead of interviews (‘views between’). In an intra-view, a participant is no longer a discreet subject. The relational potential of absent and present non-humans are listened to. Hence, nonverbal behaviors or cues are noted and transcribed, emphasizing a multi-sensorial experience not necessarily verbalized. Through “intra-views,” Judith encounters and shares the ‘untold stories’ of absent and present bodies, feelings, places, time, images, artifacts and other non-human things in an embodied encounter about academic networking. The material production of this project includes the LUUUTT model, CMM approaches, study participants, a tape-recorder, a transcription method, and the surroundings where the “intra-views” take place. All of these produce particular ‘mattering’ about gendered networks, excluding other potential “matterings” outside the aim and scope of this study. The untold stories of our gendered bodies will contribute to a personal and professional development of a more open understanding of the reach, value and limits of academic networking.

Versha J. Anderson – is a doctoral student at Arizona State University in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. Her research focuses on intercultural and international communication centered on exploring conflict and negotiation, facilitation, dialogue, and peacebuilding. She received her Master’s from Colorado State University in Communication focusing on activist rhetoric and her Bachelor’s from the University of Rhode Island with a major in Communication and minors in Business and English. Her academic advisors are Dr. Jess Alberts and Dr. Benjamin Broome.

Project Description: Versha’s Fellows project is a study of positive intercultural interactions between German citizens and Syrian refugees, applying the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) theory to understand cultural adaptation and intercultural transitions between these populations. She plans to travel to Munich in Summer 2016 to collect the stories of interaction from these two participant groups, focusing on positive experiences and examples of successful interaction. Her study aims to go beyond broad perceptions to understanding the essence of positive lived experiences and interactions between German citizens and Syrian refugees, offering practical implications for how we can facilitate positive intercultural interaction between other diverse groups undergoing intercultural transitions.

Ann Ritter is an author, consultant and educator; therapist in yoga and alternative health-care field; and part-time working artist.  She is presently a doctoral student at Fielding Graduate University, where she has been studying theories of human development and social construction in communication as a way of unlocking the experiences of contemporary Quaker men and women whose faith and practice incline and urge them toward social justice and the making of better social worlds.

Project Description: The Quaker faith was founded by mystics who had direct, bodily-held experiences of the divine, yet today, mystical connections by individual practicing Quakers often put such members at the margins of Quaker congregations and communities.  Ann’s research considers how gracefully an individual mystic accepts the feeling of being outside the mainstream of a Quaker theology as a function of his or her degree of spiritual maturity and development of consciousness. Ann considers this as an embodied phenomenon of Quaker mysticism, using the lens of CMM to consider how this embodiment acts in “expressing” versus “suppressing” a position, related to Barnett Pearce’s notions of “Selves and forms of consciousness as they emerge through the process of communication” self in community/self in relationship with the divine. Her intention for this work is to “give authentic voice” to a particular subgroup of contemporary Quakers who exemplify self-realized development, and possibly supporting Quakerism in finding its rightful place among 21st Century faith and social-justice movements.

Fellows 2015

Jami Blythe is a Professional Doctorate student at University of Sunderland, England, and a serving police officer with some 16 years service. She is studying the powerfully transformative nature of digital storytelling to facilitate personal, professional and organizational development. The world of policing is challenging, not least because of the many moral, cultural and personal dilemmas facing officers each day. Jami’s work on the facilitated transformative reflection of critical incidents through the creation of digital artifacts is providing officers with alternative perspectives and stories to aid constructive meaning-making of these challenging experiences fostering transformative learning, and build confidence and resilience. When not researching, Jami, a keen cyclist, can be found pedaling around the Scottish Borders, sampling tea and cake in the many tea rooms.

Project Description Jami’s fellows project focuses on the metaphorical mask police officers wear in order to build a resilience to the many moral, cultural and personal challenges the world of policing presents to officers. Using digital storytelling as a means of reflection, this piece of research will explore how this pedagogy of story making and telling tackles the internal conflict some officers face when they feel their actions have not met the masculine and tough expectation of the culture of policing. A sample of officers will reflect on an incident in which they were perceived as weak or ‘not up to the job’ by constructing a short movie rather than a traditional written narrative. The impact of this constructive and creative process on future professional behavior will be explored.

Paul Chappell – A West Point graduate, Paul K. Chappell is the Peace Leadership Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He was deployed to Iraq and left active duty as a captain. Chappell is the author of the Road to Peace series, a seven-book series about waging peace, ending war, the art of living, and what it means to be human. Lecturing across the country and internationally, he also teaches college courses and workshops on peace leadership. He grew up in Alabama, the son of a half-black and half-white father who fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and a Korean mother. Growing up in a violent household, Chappell has sought answers to the issues of war and peace, rage and trauma, and vision, purpose, and hope. His website is www.peacefulrevolution.com.

Project Description This project is called Literacy in the Art of Living, the Art of Waging Peace, and the Art of Listening. To survive as a species in the twenty-first century and beyond, we must promote literacy in these often neglected arts. We must also promote literacy in our shared humanity while developing new metaphors to capture the imagination of a weary public. We will evolve as a civilization or we will perish. That is our only choice. This is a task that will require new forms of communication, or a more evolved type of literacy, that may only now be emerging.

Erika Jacobi is the founder and Head Consultant of LC GLOBAL®, a boutique consulting firm with presences in Munich Germany and New York City. As an international business leader with 15+ years of experience, she has consulted with multinationals in Europe, the USA and the Middle East. She has coached national and international business leaders, including Fortune 100 leaders. In her work as a process consultant, Erika helps organizations achieve their true potential by aligning their procedures and behavior with the strongest parts of their business identities. Her background is in Intercultural Communication, Organizational Identity and Large Scale Organizational Change. Her Ph.D. research topic focuses on “The Role of Narratives in Organizational Change.

Project Description Erika’s project examines the seemingly spontaneous formation of what she terms “Collective Meta-Narratives of Identity” (CMNIs) as exemplified by “Je suis Charlie” and “Je suis Mohamed” (both in France), and “We are the people” (Germany) which manifested as emergent popular slogans that appear to build on existing, mostly unconsciously shared values and beliefs.  This process can be seen as a sensemaking mechanism in light of complex situations: A group faces an unusually complex situation, and in search for new meaning adopts a problem-setting mode to which the metaphor offers a solution. Erika accomplishes this through a review of internet postings, newspaper and video archives, and other records to search for indicators for when precisely and under which circumstances these slogans formed, then correlates these with other evidence of reactions, sentiments or thought processes of various stakeholder groups. The goal is to apply CMM theory to thoroughly describe the dynamics of the formation, spreading, and transformation of the CMNIs as well as their effects on the collective meaning-making, identity formation and conflict-resolution process as a form of emergent social construction.

Venera Kusari is a Program Coordinator at the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) at Columbia University in New York City. She works on projects related to urban violence and inter-ethnic conflicts. Venera holds a Master’s degree in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Columbia University. She is a researcher of conflict resolution focusing on communication and reflective practice through the lens of Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) and on understanding conflicts through a complex dynamical perspective through the Dynamical Systems Theory (DST). She is interested in exploring the links between theory and practice in conflict settings. For her personal growth, Venera engages in activities such as reading, meditating, practicing yoga, biking, and volunteering.

Project Description Venera’s Fellow project will take place in Kosovo, her native country, where the ethnic divide and resentment is still prevalent, since the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1990s. The project’s objective is to introduce a curriculum on Conflict Resolution in middle schools, where CMM will be one of the subjects.  In order to implement the curriculum in the most effective way, Venera will hold training workshops with teachers, school administrators, and middle school students/youth leaders ages 12-16 of mixed nationalities. The methodology used to implement CMM will be through story telling. Discussions around narratives about participants’ lives as it relates to language, nationality, religion, and gender, among few social realities, will foster exploration of stories that participants are familiar with and also those that are buried in their sub-consciousness. This will foster understanding that identity is not fixed but rather it is constructed through interaction. Drawing from the teachings of Barnett Pearce the project will introduce key CMM concepts such as mindfulness practice in communication, comfort with mystery of meaning, and making meaning of our lives and our world. She hopes that the project will assist participants in awakening their analytical abilities about intrapersonal and interpersonal communication, and ultimately, help them view conflict episodes more systematically and find collaborative, innovative, and peaceful resolutions.

Darrin Murray is a professor of Communication Studies at California State University, Northridge and at Loyola Marymount University, where he leads courses in communication theory, research methods, and a wide variety of other courses in the discipline. In his research, Dr. Murray uses a variety of both qualitative and quantitative methods to conduct applied, socially significant inquiry with a critical edge; he finds the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) a particularly robust theoretical model to guide his research (for an example, see http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10570314.2013.866687). He also offers communication training and consulting services, and finds CMM’s pragmatic nature particularly useful in that practice. Dr. Murray holds a BA in Deaf Studies/Linguistics and an MA in Communication from California State University, Northridge. Subsequently, he studied with Barnett Pearce at Fielding Graduate University where he earned an interdisciplinary doctorate with an emphasis on human communication in 2009.

Project Description Some of the earliest, groundbreaking research that began to articulate the CMM model explored “unwanted repetitive patterns” (URPs); undesired episodes of reoccurring conflict that relational partners seem unable to stop (Cronen, Pearce, & Snavely, 1979). The intention of this project is not so much to replicate the early work of Cronen et al., but to honor, extend, and reenvision that seminal work from the standpoint of nearly 40 years of evolution in CMM research and practice. The current project seeks to accomplish two goals. First, to use CMM heuristics to more fully investigate the enactment of URPs. Second, this project seeks to re-introduce to communication scholars the current incarnation of CMM as an interpretive communication theory with a distinctly applied, pragmatic, “critical edge.”  I anticipate that the outcome of this project will be deeper insight into the episodes of repetitive conflict that seem quite common to nearly all interpersonal relationships, practical advice on how individuals can begin to transform URPs into more desirable patterns of communication that create better relationships and better social worlds, and updating Communication Studies scholars on the “state of the art” of CMM research and practice.

Jonathan Shailor (Ph.D., University of Massachusetts) is a Professor of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where he has developed, and directs, the Certificate Program in Conflict Analysis and Resolution (CPCAR). CPCAR is a 12-credit course of study that trains students in the uses of mindfulness, storytelling, dialogue, and performance, as tools for conflict transformation, and personal/social evolution. The CPCAR practicum involves students in an intensive, semester-long work with one of several marginalized groups in their community (for example, homeless persons, at-risk students, incarcerated youth) Jonathan is also the founder and director of The Shakespeare Prison Project (2004 to present). The Shakespeare Project involves inmates in a maximum-medium state prison in the study, rehearsal, and performance of Shakespeare’s plays, and in the creation of autobiographical performances inspired by their work with the plays. Jonathan is the author of Empowerment in Dispute Mediation (1994); When Muddy Flowers Bloom (2008); Kings, Warriors, Magicians and Lovers (2013); and editor and contributor to the book Performing New Lives: Prison Theatre (2010).

Project Description Jonathan’s Fellows Project is situated at Racine Correctional Institution in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, where he is working with prisoners on a production of Hamlet The project will explore the practical uses of CMM and sociodrama as instruments for investigating the communication process – first in Hamlet, then in autobiographical performances inspired by our work with the play. The hope is that through this work, the prisoners will develop their abilities to better understand how particular choices of interpretation, intention, and action function to create happiness, or suffering, in specific social contexts.  Their autobiographical narratives will be created through an extended collaborative process of writing and performance, that will explicitly focus on the development of self-awareness, resilience, empathy, creativity, and practical wisdom in the performers. These are high-minded notions indeed! How will they work in practice? The purpose of this project is to test this new pedagogy, and to incorporate the learning into the creation of a new workbook for educators, titled Shakespeare’s Mirror. The work of this year’s CMMI Fellows will be featured at the 2015 CMM Learning Exchange, which is a co-production with the Institute for Global Integral Competence (www.ifgic.org) and the Fielding Graduate University’s EU Cluster. It will take place in Munich, Germany on September 17-20, 2015.

Fellows 2014

Erin Dolan is a mental health therapist and adjunct professor of Communications at Clark University in Worcester, MA. Erin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Master’s Degree in Psychology, and appreciates the way in which CMM organically allows these two fields of practice to converge. From both a research and practice perspective, Erin is interested in wellness, positivity and the ways in which the communities we create and stories we tell can assist us in our personal and professional growth. Erin resides in Rutland, MA with her partner, Sean and their dog, George. She enjoys physical fitness, traveling, learning and volunteering, and most recently appreciated the opportunity to combine all of these passions through a service trip where she practiced CMM-centered techniques with children at the Be Like Brit orphanage in Grand Goave, Haiti. Erin’s Fellows project is focused on college-aged female students. With the advent and upsurge in social media connection (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), humans have been presented with a unique opportunity to show glimpses of their personal lives to the rest of the world. Each time an individual signs on to Facebook or a similar site, they are presented with a variety of “stories” as portrayed by their acquaintances. These portrayals are often incongruent with the realities of everyday life, and most often include a glamourized or filtered version of the “true self”. One of the consequences of this constant connection, particularly for adolescent and young adult females, is a feeling of disconnect between their stories and the apparent stories of those around them. What can often result is a lowered sense of self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, and difficulty in connecting with their own “stories lived”.

Project Description:For her CMM Fellowship project, Erin has developed and implemented a CMM focused body-image group for college-aged female students, providing them with the opportunity to explore their own stories and develop a healthier and more appropriate connection with the stories of those around them with relation to social media.

Caly Meyers is a Doctoral Student at National Louis University in Chicago, IL. She is studying Community Psychology and she spends her days learning about community programming, effective evaluation, social justice, and strengths-based techniques—while always considering systems. For her thesis, Caly examined Chicago graffiti from a Community Psychology perspective. In her professional life, Caly has been a Mental Health Counselor, Art Therapist, and Community Programmer (using public art as a catalyst for neighborhood change). She is currently working at a custom content agency where she is learning more about online communities and working towards becoming a master wordsmith. When she is not at work or school, Caly can be found: scoping out the best Chicago graffiti, attempting yoga, volunteering, drawing with charcoal, and blogging.

Project DescriptionCaly’s study will be active and participatory in which a CMM workshop/program will be created, tested, and utilized in the Chicago community. Workshop members will be teenagers and their partner family member. Social video will be used as a group project, as members learn how to use CMM tools to create meaning in their lives and relationships. Family pairs will work on a video project with the prompt question: “How can we make a better social world?” Social video itself will be a communication and meaning-making tool in this project. Hopefully, this workshop will lead to more mindful communication. Also, she hopes this workshop will encourage members to be more conscious of how they can use social media to create meaning in relationships and groups. PDF: Final Paper: Social Media Doesn’t Have to Be Isolating: Using CMM Theory and Social Video to Make Meaning between Parents and Teenagers

Sergej van Middendorp is a PhD student with Fielding Graduate University, a partner in Product Foundry, and a co-founder of the Institute for Global Integral Competence. In his research, in his work as an entrepreneur and in his teaching, he is working with his fellow researchers, his business partners and his students to understand the role of metaphors in systems design processes. He is specifically interested in how systems designers improvise with conscious generative metaphors and unconscious embodied metaphors in design conversations and in the process through which those metaphors become embodied in the systems that they are creating. Earlier in his career, while helping large organizations to implement and adopt the collaboration and knowledge sharing systems of IBM, Microsoft, and Google, he became interested in the metaphor of organizational improvisation. For eight years, he worked with a jazz band, going into organizations to help leaders make sense of change, complexity, and innovation through experiencing the principles that enable the joint making of improvised music. During these years he met his current business partners in Product Foundry, with whom he now creates information technology products that help independent businesses that work together around a shared purpose to achieve a ‘groove’. In order to learn more about the theory and research behind organizational improvisation, Sergej joined the PhD program at Fielding to work with scholars like Frank Barrett, one of the founders of the field. At Fielding, Sergej learned with Barnett Pearce and became engaged with the CMM community. Just like jazz improvisation gives musicians the minimal structures to create beautiful and unique music in every moment, Sergej conceived of CMM’s theory and heuristics as the minimal structures to improvise beautiful and unique communication in every moment. Sergej is convinced that our current systems need profound change in order to help us meet today’s challenges and sees a communication perspective as one of means for making this change.

Project Description PDF: Improvising with metaphors in the design process of a new media system: A communication perspective

Fellows 2013

Kazuma Matoba just completed his presidency of SIETAR (Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research) Berlin. During his tenure as president, Kazuma organized the 2012 SIETAR Berlin conference around the theme of intercultural communication competence drawing on CMM’s  cosmopolitan communication and Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory. Kazuma has continued this work as a 2013 CMM Fellow. He is committed to developing long-term international curricula that would provide intercultural practitioners with a grounded theory/practice in global integral competence as it applies to cosmopolitan communication. His Fellows Presentation was an articulation for the importance of bringing together the work of CMM and Integral Theory to create a new way of understanding and teaching intercultural communication competence. This work will continue far beyond his Fellows tenure and the CMM Institute looks forward to working with Kazuma on this important endeavor Click here to read his paper

Bart Buechner has long been interested in Veteran’s issues. A Naval Academy graduate and a retired Captain in the Navy, Bart has devoted his doctoral work to researching the transition of veteran’s from service in the military to civilian life. Specifically, Bart’s focus has been from military service to higher education; what this transition has been like for veterans and ways of making the transition more useful. He has used CMM as a research methodology to understand how veterans are making meaning of their past experiences and how they might reconstruct future social worlds in conversation with various advisors and mentors as they navigate their way back to an educational context. In the process of conducting this research, Bart has been in conversation with military officials who are fascinated by his work and wish to incorporate it into the military’s lexicon for helping veteran’s adjust to life as a civilian. Stay tuned…for Bart’s work will have a wide-ranging impact on possible next steps for the military and educational contexts. Click here to read his paper

Fellows 2012

On behalf of Villanova University, Fielding Graduate University, and the CMM Institute for Personal and Social Evolution we want to congratulate the first five CMM Institute Fellows for 2011-2012. The Fellows are:

  • Romi Goldsmith Boucher – Collaboration: A Constitutive Accomplishment. Fielding Graduate University, PhD student.
  • John Carr – Opportunities and Obstacles to Transforming Planning Communication Through the Creation of Digital Visualization Tools. Professor, Geography, University of New Mexico.
  • Susan Jacobson – Understanding How the American Political Drama Unfolds on the Social Web May Help Reconstruct our National Political Dialogue. Assistant Professor of Journalism, Temple University.
  • Jeff Leinaweaver – The Game of Gaialogue: Games for Developing Evolved Communication Skills. Consultant, Global Sustainability.
  • Charles E. Morris III – Archival Queers: Anti-Bullying and the Rhetorical Futures of GLBT Pasts. Associate Professor, Communication, Boston College.

On April 15 and 16, 2012 the Hearts and Minds International Film Festival, hosted by Villanova University, recognized these projects and the 2011-2012 Fellows’ induction. The film festival celebrated social justice oriented documentary films by students and professionals from around the world. We proudly share the final presentations and papers from the first CMM Institute Fellows for 2011-2012:

  • John Carr – Opportunities and Obstacles to Transforming Planning Communication Through the Creation of Digital Visualization Tools. Professor, Geography, University of New Mexico.
  • Susan Jacobson – Understanding How the American Political Drama Unfolds on the Social Web May Help Reconstruct our National Political Dialogue. Assistant Professor of Journalism, Temple University.
  • Jeff Leinaweaver – The Game of Gaialogue: Games for Developing Evolved Communication Skills. Consultant, Global Sustainability.
  • Charles E. Morris III – Archival Queers: Anti-Bullying and the Rhetorical Futures of GLBT Pasts. Associate Professor, Communication, Boston College.

CMMI Fellows news

CMM Institute 2021 Fellow completes dissertation

CMM Institute 2021 Fellow completes dissertation

Congratulations to Lilya Shienko, PhD, for the recent completion of her dissertation, “The relationship between personal use of social media at work and job satisfaction”, as part of her doctoral studies at Adler University. Lilya’s thesis evolved from the work she undertook as a CMMI Fellow in 2021.

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Congratulations to our 2021 Fellows

Congratulations to our 2021 Fellows

We have offered a total of 13 Fellowships for 2021: four CMMi Fellowships, five AC4/CMMi Graduate Fellowships and four special UK CMMi Fellowships to mark our joint conference on Making Better Social Worlds for the 21st Century

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Improv, democracy & CMM: Don Waisanen, 2017 CMMI Fellow

Improv, democracy & CMM: Don Waisanen, 2017 CMMI Fellow
The connections between CMM and improvisation run deep, and a major part of Don Waisanen’s fellowship experience has involved discovering the host of links between improv and concepts such as co-construction, holding spaces, strange loops, liminality, emergence, mindfulness, and logical force. Here, Don gives us an overview his project and what he achieved at the Learning Exchange in London.

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Grief work, continuing bonds and co-creating new stories: Tracey Johnston & Peter Robinsons, 2017 CMMI Fellows

Grief work, continuing bonds and co-creating new stories
Tracey Johnston and Peter Robinson describe how they used the LUUUUTT model to develop an innovative approach to grief work. The LUUUUTT model guided them in co-creating new stories and understandings with bereaved persons about their loved ones that helped in re-connecting identities (personal, social and cultural) as resources for living.

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