The knowing-doing gap and how not to sink in it

What we need is a shift in focus from knowing to not knowing, claims action researcher and MIT senior university lecturer Otto Scharmer.
Otto Scharmer

Knowledge is what educational institutions do, and knowledge is important. What we are facing in our time of global disruption, though, is not a lack of knowledge, but rather the inability to turn that knowledge into the change we need to see in the world.

In his rousing presentation at the Aalto University Green Minds, Healthy Hearts – Social Sustainability Symposium held in May, Dr. Otto Scharmer (MIT)proposed a radical change in focus for all educators – shifting from knowledge to deeper sensing capacities.

In his Theory U, developed to facilitate systemic transformations, Scharmer suggests that change requires an ability to sense and presence the emerging future with very little by way of knowledge. Instead, we need to cultivate our skills of deep listening and self-reflection. These skills allow us to connect to the emerging future and welcome a shift in ourselves and our identities.

This transformational learning is crucial for generating change on both individual and systemic levels, but it doesn’t happen by itself. What higher education needs to offer students is infrastructure to support the cultivation of the skills that are needed to achieve it. This means striving for an ecosystem-centric model where education is seen as a means of co-creating the future.

The knowing-doing gap cannot be filled solely with knowledge. We don’t need professionals who can merely generate data and deal with what’s here and now. We need professionals who can harness their intuition and embodied knowing to reach towards the unknown future with open hearts, open minds and open will.

 As educators and future professionals, we hold the key.

To learn more about eco-system awareness, deep listening and how to change the behaviour, watch the full recording of Dr. Scharmer’s presentation Leading from the Emerging Future at the Aalto University Green Minds, Healthy Hearts – Social Sustainability Symposium, which took place on the 30th of May 2023.

Text: Petra Partanen

Otto Scharmer at the Green Minds Healthy Hearts Social Sustainability Symposium May 30, 2023

Watch the recording of Otto Scharmer´s speech at the symposium.

Watch the recording!
Otto Scharmer
The Wellbeing Ambassador Arttu Pahta

Oasis blog: Empowering Futures: Reflections on Dr. Otto Scharmer's Lecture

What should we students strive for in life? Read the Wellbeing Ambassador Arttu Pahta's blog post on Dr. Otto Scharmer's lecture.

Oasis of Radical Wellbeing
Audience in Aalto Learning Center, Espoo watching two persons on stage at the Green Minds, Healthy Hearts Social Sustainability Symposium, May 30th 2023.

Green Minds, Healthy Hearts Social Sustainability Symposium recordings

Here you will find the symposium speeches. Please note, some of the material is available for a limited time and/or Aalto Community members only.

Oasis of Radical Wellbeing
Keys to Your Wellbeing

Oasis of Radical Wellbeing

On these pages you will find information and interesting references to improve wellbeing at Aalto University!

  • Published:
  • Updated:

Read more news

Campus, Incidents, University Published:

Summer brings changes at Aalto University metro station

Renovations to Aalto University metro station will close the entrances in summer 2024.
Campus Published:

PechaKucha event tested the presentation skills of doctoral students at the School of Electrical Engineering

The first PechaKucha at the School of Electrical Engineering challenged the school's doctoral students to present the topics of their dissertation in six minutes. The event was held on Wednesday 22 May at Otaniemi A Grid.
Piano Top Loungessa
Campus, Cooperation, Studies, University Published:

Students decided: two community pianos arrived on campus

Aalto-yliopiston opiskelijoiden osallistavan budjetoinnin projektin voittajaksi nousi yhteiskäyttöinen piano.
Campus Published:

A! Walk-Art Tour to Didrichsen Art Museum

Finland is entering the golden time of the year, and our second walk was a journey across time to explore the brushstrokes of Finnish Golden Age painters...