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What would happen if we asked 25 people, of all ages and from all walks of life, to intentionally pursue their passion for 9 months?  And what if we paired each of these 25 Voyagers with 25 Guides (mentors) to support them as they challenge their assumptions, imagine new possibilities, and have the courage to expand beyond who they are to learn and grow?

The Experiment

In planning the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair (The Next Fifty), a citizen committee was formed to consider the topic of learning. The committee agreed that both learning and education were critical to the future of our society.They also shared a sense that learning and education have become out of sync with one another. They were concerned that “success” has been so universally defined by society, and has become so ingrained in systems of learning, that it can impact the ability of a person to identify and follow his/her own intrinsic motivation if it differs from the norm.  And, without that individual sense of passion and purpose, people struggle to achieve fulfillment, productivity and “success.”

The Learning Committee wanted not only to discuss this topic with the greater community, but to do so in an untraditional manner.  So they proposed an experiment – a learning journey – that the community could observe to collectively explore:

  • What can we learn about how we learn—how we pursue our greatest passions and therefore move civilization forward in the next 50 years?
  • Does passion for something stimulate learning and productivity at a high rate?
  • What real and imagined barriers to pursuing one’s passion exist?
  • What assumptions do people carry about themselves, their innate talents, and vulnerabilities and how do they compare to other people from completely different walks of life?
  • What might we discover that both aids and abets these individuals from improving their lives and in turn improving their community? 
  • What does valuable support of this type of learning process look like?
  • What are the implications learned from participants and their discoveries about how we design systems and institutions of learning in the future?

Who’s Involved

Participants represent a wide variety of the demographics present in Washington State and come from a diversity of backgrounds.  This includes:

  • abled and disabled,
  • artist and attorney,
  • child, parent and grandparent,
  • employed, unemployed, and retired,
  • ex-military, ex-nun and ex-convict,
  • foreign and native,
  • gay, straight and bi-sexual,
  • high school graduate and Ph.D.,
  • low-income and affluent,
  • male, female and transgender,
  • school teacher and student,
  • single, married, divorced and widowed,
  • teen MENSA member and teen with autism,
  • young (14) and old (75),

and just about everything in between.  Although these labels may be how society classifies the participants, the labels do not begin to define them.   Learn more about the participants and follow their stories in Voyager & Guide Profiles.

Project Structure

25 Voyagers were chosen through a competitive application and interview process in August of 2011. 25 Guides were then recruited and paired with Voyagers one month into the project. Both groups participated in an orientation and were provided with toolkits that included a tablet to help them document and capture as much of their learning, realizations and experiences as possible. Voyagers were also divided into smaller groups to participate in Passion Search classes, led by Centerpoint Institute. The classes helped Voyagers not only to identify their passion and to consider ways to pursue that passion intentionally over the following months, but to gain support and insight into themselves from a group of peers. 

In addition to responding regularly to questions devised by the P3 Project, the participants gathered for full-day workshops in February and June to discuss and share their experiences.  A team of researchers from Seattle area universities is reviewing the documentation in order to draw conclusions, identify trends and themes, and help craft official findings for the experiment.

The project will culminate in August of 2012 when a series of public events centered on P3 will occur as part of The Next Fifty month of Learning.  More information here.

Antioch University, Centerpoint Institute, KCTS 9, Paradigm Studio, SIFF, Seattle University, University of Washington, Western Washington University

Read more: Featured Voyager & Guide
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Join us: August 2012 P3 events
Additional information: [email protected];  206.233.2608