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A Bird’s Eye View of IF’s Development

I last wrote of the “vision” that helps me keep the IF faith going forward.  Doing so got me thinking that those unfamiliar with our work might appreciate a bird’s eye view looking backward at the Foundation’s development since it started up in its present guise in early 2002.

The first thing to note about the Foundation’s historical development is that it is not guided by a “plan” but rather a sense of where we’re headed and a commitment to learning by doing. This means that we view all of our work as “work in progress,” even the techniques and approaches in which we have come to have the greatest confidence.  A second critical thing to remember as you read on is that all of the developmental stages are interactive with each other.

Here, then, is one simplified description of the stages in the organic development of IF.

Stage I— Developing a prototype, i.e. a working version of the exploratory IF Discussion Process.  This stage began years or even decades before the formal organization of IF in its present guise in 2002.

Stage II— Road-testing the IF Discussion Process beyond the sanctuary project “labs” in which it likewise continues to be refined.  Road tests were first conducted in college and university classrooms, in 2006.  Public discussions began the following year.  Nearly 100 of these will be complete by the end of 2010.

Stage III— Adaptation of the IF Discussion Process to new audiences and situations.  Adaptation began with our first faculty training in 2006 and a second faculty training and a public discussion facilitator training in 2009.  Additional trainings are already in the works, and Fellows are actively exploring new ways of engaging citizens with the IF Process.

Stage IV— Scaling-up the effort by enabling others to engage in the same sort of work that IF Fellows and faculty do.  Trainings are the first step in this process; others, including individualized and multi-media approaches, are being explored.  But this is a developmental stage with an inherently longer time horizon.