The Five Critical Questions

In May 2021, a small group of about 30 participants gathered in a virtual environment to name some of the important unanswered questions in transformative learning and education.

Using a modified Open Space Technology, the group identified the following shared concerns:

  • ONE:  How could what we know about transformational theory assist those who are working within the domain(s) of diversity, equity, and inclusion?
  • TWO:  Why do individuals, organizations, and communities resist transformation?
  • THREE:  In what ways do we transform the educational space to address democracy?
  • FOUR:  In what ways can transformative learning (transformation) help communities create a more sustainable environment/ learning organization?
  • FIVE:  How can transformative learning de-radicalize societies and create safer spaces of belonging and recognition for individuals?

These became known as the Five Critical Questions.

In October 2021, a larger group of around 100 participants were convened to continue the conversation around these questions and to:

  1. Engage a diverse group of scholars, practitioners, and activist with a shared interest in Transformational Learning and Education
  2. Experience continued dialogue and deepening of our understanding regarding five critical questions related to transformation, and
  3. Create opportunities for extending this work at the conference.

In February and March 2022, participants from the virtual sessions were interviewed by Michigan State University graduate student Zhenyang Xu regarding their understanding and work related to the five questions. The outcomes of these interviews were shared with attendees of ITLC 2022 at the conference in April 2022. Additionally, general sessions were convened during the conference for attendees to come together in dialogue and continue to explore these questions with an interest in formulating some action steps for moving forward.

In May 2022, ITLA hosted a webinar entitled “Engaging with the Five Critical Questions” facilitated by ITLC 2022 Co-Chair and co-convener of the pre-conference gatherings, Dr. Frank Conner, who shared some of the key themes he heard emerging from the conversations in 2021 and 2022. Participants were invited to consider and share their ideas for how to move these conversations forward from dialogue into action.

We welcome and invite anyone interested in participating in the next phase of this project to join us! If you would like to lead or participate in a team exploring one or more of the Five Critical Questions above, please express your interest via the following form: Five Critical Questions: Dialogue to Action