Cornell University, USA


Derek Cabrera is a social scientist, educator, organizational consultant and a social entrepreneur. He is a doctoral student at Cornell University and a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow in Nonlinear Systems. For fourteen years prior to Cornell, he worked in four continents, twelve countries, and fifteen US states as an experiential educator with Outward Bound and as a mountain and river guide with various outdoor organizations as well as work in service learning and restorative justice with the conservation corps movement in the US. He has led high-altitude climbing expeditions to some of the world’s most remote mountain regions. He was adjunct faculty at Regis University where he taught courses based on his original learning models. He is the author of the book, "Remedial genius: Think and learn like a genius with the five principles of knowledge" (ISBN 0970804504). Derek has held executive positions at Outward Bound, Palo Alto Red Cross and the Montana Conservation Corps where he led reorganization initiatives. He has worked in the for-profit, non-profit, government and academic sectors. He was appointed, by the Governor of Montana, to the Legislative Interim Committee on Juvenile Justice and Mental Health. As a social entrepreneur, he founded CorpsLINK, the Restorative Justice Training Network, the Regis Leadership Corps and several smaller programs. He holds a B.A. and M.A. from Regis University.

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The complexity of concept mapping for policy analysis
Volume: 7, Issue 1
Concept mapping is a participatory mixed methodology that enables diverse participant groups to develop shared conceptual frameworks that can be used in a variety of policy contexts to identify or encourage complexity, and the adaptive emergent properties associated with it. The method is consistent with an evolving paradigm of complex adaptive systems thinking and helps groups address complexity in several ways: it is inductive, allowing shared meaning to emerge; it is based on a simple set of rules (operations) that generate complex patterns and results; it engages diverse agents throughout the process through a range of participation channels (synchronous or asynchronous web, face-to-face, etc.); the visual products - the concept maps, pattern matches, action plots - provide high-level representations of evolving thinking; the results are generative, encouraging shared meaning and organizational learning while preserving individuality and diversity; the maps themselves provide a framework that enables autonomous agents to align action with broader organizational or systems vision. The concept mapping process involves free listing, unstructured sorting and rating of ideas, and a sequence of statistical analyses (multidimensional scaling, hierarchical cluster analysis) that produce maps and other results that the participants then interpret. An example is provided of a web-based project that mapped the practical challenges that need to be addressed to encourage and support effective systems thinking and modeling in public health work. It is suggested that using concept mapping especially in combination with other types of human simulation provides a valuable addition to our methodological tools for studying complex human systems.