The New Science of Cooperation

You know you're in the right place at the right time when you are part of a paradigm shift that is rippling powerfully across disciplines... A photo from our recent "Long-table Dinner for a New Economy," co-hosted in our cafe space with Ashoka Changemakers

At Groundswell, we talk a lot about moving from a competitive to a collaborative economy. Amongst the many problems with our extractive, winner-take-all economy is its self-fulfilling prophecies about human nature: we're told that we are selfish and need to put ourselves first if we hope to survive, creating a race-to-the-bottom of greed and self-involvement. But these stories are changing.

Stephanie Van Hook has a great blog post on OpenDemocracy.net about the limits of non-cooperation for social change, looking at new research that shows we are much more cooperatively inclined than our economic models suggest:

"The new science of cooperation doesn’t write aggression or competition out of the human story, but it brings in cooperation as a vital counterweight. Indeed, some research suggests that human beings are best understood as 'super-cooperators' whose entire existence is an expression of caring and concern - from our first experiences in families to the behavior of those who risk their lives for strangers. Researchers at UCLA have discovered that 'tend and befriend' behavior, which defuses tension by actively seeking out connections and common ground, is just as significant as 'fight or flight.'"

As she says, "the modus operandi of most contemporary systems is to keep people from working together, especially around the things that really matter, like giving birth to a person-centered economy." At Groundswell, when we say we're changing economic logics, we mean changing that modus operandi too. And we're accepting applications for fall of 2014 now...