The growing list of global concerns requires little elaboration here. We are on the midst of an economic meltdown; billions suffer in
poverty, and thousands die each year in seemingly senseless warfare. We also face crime, pollution, ignorance, hate, fear, and despair. There are so many problems and so much need that we hardly know what to do next. On the brighter side, there are billions of people with good hearts who want to help… but who do not have the tools. We are like children by the sea – trying to save one starfish at a time. But the critic’s cry remains; we cannot help them all. Sadly, we can’t even be sure we are helping at all – for what good is it to throw back a few starfish if the oceans are dying?
In short, even the scope of the problem is beyond our grasp.
Where are the answers for these persistent issues? One very natural response is to suggest that our experts have the answers. Another approach is the use of collaborative techniques, such as those used in Organization Development engagements and dialog. However, these seemingly obvious answers are also suspect. There is no consensus among the experts. Further, studies show the limited efficacy of Organization Development methodologies as well as the limitations of many theories across the range of the social sciences. In short, those global issues are problematic exactly because we do not have effective theories to cope with them.
FAST – Values
The current paradigm of academia has not proved useful in developing more effective social theory. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to accelerate the improvement of social theory – to purposefully push for a new paradigm of the social sciences. In this effort, we value persistent efforts that are innovative, rigorous, and interdisciplinary, as well as collaborative, elegant, and effective.
FAST – Vision
Before 2025, we will have social theory that is unquestionably efficacious in practice, and widespread in use. When scholars and practitioners have developed more effective social theory, the application of those theories in practice will result in significant changes to our social systems. Acting as individuals and organizations, we will address the issues of our age with confidence. The changes to our world cannot be easily predicted – just as the 20th century revolutions in power distribution, computers, and communications could not have been predicted by Benjamin Franklin while flying his famous kite. We can expect the global changes engendered by fully developed social theory will be of that scope and consequence. Efficacious theory will be key to the development of more effective businesses, supporting the arts, education, environment, sustainability, social change, as well as social, political, and organizational effectiveness.
FAST – Mission
There are serious problems in our world today, along with amazing opportunities. The very existence of these issues suggests that we do not have the capacity (the theory and the techniques of practice) to address them effectively. Indeed, it seems reasonable to speculate that there are many opportunities and issues of which we are not yet aware. They will be emerging soon and we are not prepared.
Whether we are discussing a problem or a possibility, we have an obligation to strive for the improvement of the human condition – especially where that condition exists in mutually beneficial interrelationship with larger global systems, such as our natural and social environments.
It is the mission of this foundation to accelerate the development of the social sciences and to promote those developments into broader application. We will achieve those advancements by:
- Supporting conversations to find objective directions for advancing social theory.
- Benchmarking and improving social theory by advancing it toward robustness and other objective measures of successful validation.
- Supporting the rigorous testing of theory.
- Sharing our insights with communities of practice.
We are dedicated to building human and intellectual capital by advancing metatheory and specific social theory that will enable individuals and organizations to more effectively address the issues of our age. In the future, we will create think tanks that will utilize advances in metatheory to support carefully considered opportunities. For example, society stands to benefit greatly from the development of metapolicy analysis. Other opportunities abound – our only boundary is the horizon.