Project Description

It is a place for collaboration with the purpose of cocreating, advancing and exploring knowledge and actions for sustainability and for individual, social and community balance.

It is a space (physical, virtual and cognitive) where people from different backgrounds can interact, work and learn together to build new skills and new projects with the potential to transform society and the market.

As a laboratory, it is a living experience and therefore its structure is flexible and adaptable to the various interests and the various activities taking place in diverse places and contexts.

Created by a group of ISEG’ researchers and students, as well as external professionals, ULab is also an interface that connects the university to the society through direct partnerships with companies, entrepreneurs and institutions.

If we offer services it is because we believe that we can learn from this interaction with other actors in the same way that they can learn from our interaction.

We are a community of people with different paths in different areas of knowledge that address and care about the present profound environmental, economic, social and human changes, and share a transversal common element on the need and the role of developing human consciousness in these processes.

We believe that professionals as well as students are also experts that we must integrate into research and that researchers can expand their knowledge in direct contact with people and institutions outside academia.

We are a group of researchers, teachers and students at all levels, both from ISEG and from other schools of the University of Lisbon (Universidade de Lisboa), and from various organizations including public institutions, that collaborate to promote transformation, intervention and training.

The ULab ISEG joins an international movement participated by universities such as MIT and others, and by associations, NGOs and numerous grassroots initiatives that aim to increase its positive impact on innovation and economic and social transformation.

  • We study and apply participatory transformation tools in areas such as sustainability, education, personal transition, entrepreneurship, organizational change management and knowledge transfer;
  • We foster new styles of management, entrepreneurship practices, leadership and participatory governance and/or self-determined-management;
  • We train soft skills in researchers, students and professionals, deem necessary for a correct reading of the world in the 21st century;
  • We stimulate and intervene in projects and ideas co-created, from the actors involved, that potentially have an impact on well-being and sustainability;
  • We promote collaboration between initiatives and reinforce synergies for more interventional knowledge.

We learn, teach, investigate and put into practice a set of theories and participatory methods that aim at personal, organizational and social transformation processes, namely a framework known as ‘Theory U’ (developed at the MIT Sloan Management School by Otto Scharmer and colleagues) and their different applications to participatory processes of transformation.

Other approaches that are also used and promoted are, for example, collaborative methodologies such as Art-of-Hosting, Dragon Dreaming, Design Thinking, WorldCafé, Design-of-Art, Future Search workshops, or research participatory and transformative.

We intend to work in partnership. We are therefore establishing networks and partnerships within the Universidade de Lisboa (eg with ISCSP WellBeing, F3 College, ICS, among others) and outside the university with organizations such as the Presencing Institute at MIT or with other projects such as COST ACTION (TD 1408) INTREPID, as well as partnerships with companies and associations and individual groups and individuals.

With the partners we will co-design and implement annual work plans aligned with the ISEG goals. ULab ISEG’s knowledge-based activities will be disseminated online using the potential of the ICT – information and communication technologies.

Creation of laboratories 4.0 for companies, universities and for local or international public institutions, to support the processes of sensing, transformation, validation, prototyping and acceleration of organizational and management solutions.

This line of action that we can call U.School concentrates all the training activities for different target actors, networks and increasing of the collective consciousness of the ecosystems. We separate these programs into three types:

  • Orientated for immersive learning in participatory processes. Through the co-organization of events and/or courses in different formats (workshops, short training courses-action, bootcamps, fishbowls, world cafes, dream circles, possibly complemented with online discussion forums) is intended to disseminate the study and practice of different approaches and models of participatory processes, for example, among others: Dragon Dreaming, Role playing, Team management, Prospect Workshop, Leadership Future, “Net Companies”, Art of Hosting, Profound Innovation, Lego Serious Play and other techniques;
  • Soft skills oriented – transversal skills. In the field of soft skills training we include: Mindfullness, Non Violent Communication (NVC), Deep Listening, Points of You, Body language, Negotiation, facilitation techniques, Personal Marketing, etc.;
  • Oriented for the formation of leaders and change makers. U.School intends to develop specific participatory and humanist leadership training programs, using participatory management methodologies associated with the Neurosciences of Leadership, Marketing and Management, and based on the role of emotions in decision making. The aim is to enable the “humanization of the economy, business and companies”.

In the medium term, the ULab will host workshops organized by students and researchers on topics related to action research, transformative research and sustainability. It is hoped that students will organize, in the framework of doctoral and masters seminars, workshops dedicated to specific topics where they can demonstrate the use of ‘Theory U’, Dragon Dreaming, AoH or other approaches as tools for the organization of collaborative research projects. For example, the use of ethnography in the financial and business world or in participatory processes; use and evaluation of participatory tools for intervention requests from institutions, use of transformative tools in organizational change (tool construction and adaptation, reflection on evaluation and balance sheet, etc.).

Starting from projects such as INTREPID and the recent TWINNING application, the ULab also intends to propose, in the medium term, lines and research topics that may be subject to master’s and doctoral theses and/or research project proposals.

Within this line of action, the ULab intends to develop its own physical and virtual “spaces”, as resources to support the work in the other three lines. In its physical dimension, it is intended to have a meeting space for the ULab ISEG community that involves not only those interested in ‘Theory U’ but, in general, all those interested in processes of change and individual and collective transformation, including organizations and individuals within and outside the University. The physical space will be used primarily for the events and training courses and for internal meetings of ULab community members. In its virtual dimension this “space” is mainly a cognitive space, created from a regular presence on social networks and anchored on its own site.


Manuel Laranja

Sofia Bento

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