Blog | Mapping the Emergent Future – an online experience| U.lab 2x – Building Vertical Literacy in Higher Education

Wipe the dust, exhale
Uncover hidden treasures
Sense the space and shine!

This haiku summarizes some of the outcomes of today’s online session of the U.lab 2x project  ‘Building Vertical Literacy in Higher Education’ at Wageningen University. The aim of the session was to establish a shared understanding of the current reality of the higher education system and to find new ways of perceiving barriers and opportunities for an emergent future. We used a tool called ‘3D mapping’, as developed and offered by the Presencing Institute.

Originally meant as a group exercise, we had to adapt our plans to the current corona crisis and develop an online format for this hands-on activity. We choose to divide the activity into 2 steps:

First, we asked people to map the current reality individually at home, guided by some video instructions.Then, we met via Zoom to share our models, reflect upon them and map the emergent future.

Sharing in small groups in break-out rooms, we listened to what resonated between the different models and crystallized that into ‘book’ titles (if our models were a book, what would be its title?) Four titles emerged, ranging from ‘Wipe the Dust’  to ‘Feet in the Dirt’. Collective themes and images that emerged: heaviness removed, space emerging; a neatly ordered but limiting structure replaced by multiple connections in a messy, shared and grounded reality; certainty replaced by question marks (e.g. What are we educating for?) ; hidden treasures emerging from the dust; the invitation to sense the space and shine into that.

Our fabulous scribe Rooske Eerden from Scratch Graphics did an amazing job in capturing our conversation into a drawing; a great added value as it really makes tangible some of the collective energy that we were able to generate in virtual space!

Generative scribing image by Rooske Eerden from Scratch Graphics

This session followed up on an Introduction session on February 12th and a Co-Initiating Session on March 11th, that we were fortunately able to have in-person at Wageningen University. During the March session we worked with tools like guided journaling and coaching circles, to discover our common intention for this project.  Even though lacking the right words, we all clearly felt ‘it made sense for us to be there’ and images emerged of a small duckling that we are holding together and a brave chicken jumping the fence!

On May 6th , we will meet for our fourth session, in which will practice Social Presencing Theatre in an online format.

If you are interested in knowing more about this project, please contact or

Many thanks to Dave Pendle, Meghann Ormond, Philippa Collin and Rooske Eerden for co-organizing this lab & session!