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Gareth met Eric Trist circa 1980 at the University of Pennsylvania. Eric had a highly-regarded student, Cal Pava Rafael Ramirez was a master's student of Eric Trist at York University in the Faculty of Environmental Studies.

Gareth then heard that Eric was at the Faculty of Environmental Studies

  • Gareth was asked to join the Faculty of Environmental Studies
  • Gareth was interested in coming to Toronto for social reasons
  • Formed a relationship with Eric's entourage
  • Eric was interested in action learning, and created the York Action Learning Group in 1981
  • David Morley (should speak with him)
  • Action Learning Group was interdisciplinary, drew in faculty members and graduate students, all generated by projects the people worked on
  • e.g. Eric had a project on the future of Cape Breton, and out west


  • Michel Chevalier, who died several years ago, but a fringe member of the group
  • (This would have been before Stafford Beer arrived in Toronto)
  • Probably the largest number of action learners in one place
  • Action research connected to Fred and Merrelyn Emery; when Fred came through
  • Hans von Beinum, Quality of Working Life Institute – Stafford Beer gave some talks there
  • Eric was the catalyst for bringing people together, he was a sharer of ideas, excited in what people were doing
  • Given the state of his career, was looking forward, bring in Tavistock, the work through S3 (Social Systems Science) program at Wharton, and with Maruyama and cybernetics
  • No intellectual orthodoxy, much more of a collection of people who were like thinking, who would share, and then go their own ways

One of the interests at the time was the launch of a domain-level organization, ones that cross institutional boundaries

  • Worked with Rafael Ramirez and David Morley to get an international collaboration on toxicity in the Great Lakes; weren't successful, but was typical of the type of activity
  • Another: mobilization of educational services for the handicapped: a program, probably in Orillia

David Morley wrote a book with Susan Wright called Learning Works, a book of case studies of action research projects from people at York University

A loosely-coupled network, where people paired together

  • e.g. Orillia Project: Fred and Merrelyn Emery, documented by Merrelyn on some of the debates that went on there??
  • Almost billed by Fred Emery as a ““conflict of generations”??
  • Eric was looking for an umbrella over everyone
  • Some polarization of systems thinking as Emeries wanted to describe it, and the looser description that other people were seeking to advocate
  • Gareth was influenced by Eric's work on holographic approaches to organizing

Gareth went back to Wharton, after having met Eric, and Rafael Ramirez was a Ph.D. student there

  • Wharton seemed fragmented

Then Eric Trist moved to California

  • Should talk with Beulah Trist, she lives in Carmel, California
  • Connected with Marvin Weisbord

Eric came when David Bee set up program at University of Toronto, as “investigations in applied epistemology”, about 8 talks

eric_trist_association_gareth_morgan.1204058576.txt.gz · Last modified: 2020/07/27 15:36 (external edit)