“People think about education as the acquisition of new things, as if it were an unproblematic and promising process simply of adding to what one already thinks. And the truth is, it is transformative, and that means upending a whole set of assumptions about how to see things,
what’s possible, what’s real…”

Carolyn A. “Biddy” Martin, PhD, President of Amherst College

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The Aspen Center for Human Development develops interdisciplinary programs in leadership and other aspects of human development. Our courses are interactive programs, usually delivered as intensive, transformative single or multi-day courses in an Executive Education format. While our programs are generally designed to be delivered in institutions of higher education, we encourage collaboration with secondary schools to modify versions of our programs to be appropriate for younger learners.

Our courses are built on a foundation of Curiosity, Authenticity, Gratitude, and Service. These four elements are indispensible in leadership and essential in leading a fulfilling life. Throughout every course, instructors engage in Socratic dialogue, employing what Educator Jack Mezirow calls “Transformative Learning.” This stands in contradistinction to “Informative Learning,” which uses what educational theorist Paulo Freire called a “banking” theory of learning — students add to their knowledge, skills, and competencies, and can later draw on what they have “banked.” Transformative Education, on the other hand, aims to develop a consciousness that has the power to transform reality through inquiry: examining what we think and know, our interpretations, and our perspectives. In our courses, participants grapple with owning themselves and their narratives, and learn to see themselves as what Master Coach Julio Olalla calls “the observers we are.”

Whether inquiring into the nature of being a leader or the nature of being human, using an ontological approach provides a very different method for learning than models based on theory, research, traits, or skills. In our highly interactive programs, we support participants in beginning to master what it takes to be the people - and the leaders - they have not yet known themselves to be.

“Transformational learning shapes people.
They are different afterwards in ways both they and others can recognize.”

Carol Hoare in The Oxford Handbook of Reciprocal Adult Development and Learning

Aspen Center for Human Development

Aspen Center for Human Development

PO Box 8878 Aspen, CO 81612
E: info@aspenchd.org
T: 970.948.9190
F: 970.544.9797