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Detail Mentor Profile: JONATHAN TAYLOR

The Transformative Learning Foundation


Jonathan Taylor

Rutgers University, Ph.D. 1970

As his lifeline extends, Jonathan has become more involved in transpersonal matters. Raised a Birthright Quaker, he has studies and practices that include Buddhism, Deep Ecology, Native American Spirituality, shamanic work and entheogens. In his coaching practice, he helps mature adults become elders in the deepest sense. He is also involved in rites of passage for young men. What he loves most in this world is the play between “not-two” and unabashed individuality; his life is about serving the flow of something greater than himself. Jonathan—scientist, artist, and educator—has worked in secondary and post-secondary settings as a research scientist and graduate faculty member; he holds a PhD in Marine Botany.

A generalist at heart, Jonathan is an experienced facilitator, mentor and practitioner of life-long learning; Jonathan’s learning history is constantly being up-dated. As an adult, since University, he has trained and been certified in learning experiences and many professional development opportunities. These include: Dialogue and Open Space Training for Facilitators, Radiant Mind Teacher’s Certification, The work of Byron Katie, The Leadership Circle 360 Certification, Developing an Integrated Major Gift Program, Fundraising for Non-Profit Organizations, Strategic Planning for College and University Executives, and the National Association for Foreign Student Affairs Workshop. Jonathan and a partner created The Institute for Transformative Leadership (leadership training) in 1998, in response to the local Y2K hysteria in Nelson. The Institute continues to this day, currently based in Norway at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where Jonathan provided a graduate seminar in 2007 in the relationship between enlightened leadership and the capacity to abide in non-dual awareness.
Jonathan’s work and service includes multiple generations. During the last two years, in addition to his work with SelfDesign Learners, Jonathan has been making topical presentations to a local group of seniors (“Learning in Retirement”). Jonathan was invited to participate in the New Story Summit at Findhorn, Scotland in September 2014, where he carried the flag’ of life-long learning in the context of multigenerational communities as a key to creating a possibility for transformative, game-changing new stories for humanity. As of this date, he is training to become a ‘Death Doula’ as well as a facilitator in the Conscious Aging Program offered by the Institute of Noetic Sciences.


  • Pomona College, B.A. 1963


Jonathan lives in

 Victoria, BC


SDGI Courses

SD 534: Catalytic Memes: The Transformative Power of the ‘New Story.’ (3 credits)

Our shared belief in a consensual reality is in fact created by a collective ‘story’ that gives common meaning to experience. Humans are story-makers, and we are responsible for the stories we create. This is good news!

In this course learners examine several case studies to assess the impact and implications of a specific meme on its supporting culture. The ‘new story’ becomes the next ‘old story,’ and yet we are accountable for the enduring unintended consequences of our actions. What happens when stories contradict each other? What is the role of belief and certitude? Does the introjection of a non-linear possibility, a ‘new story,’ require direct experience?

Possible case studies for exploration in the course are these: Big Bang, Consciousness, and Evolution; The Calculus of Sustainability, Impermanence, and Intra-dependant Origination; System Overload: Anthropogenic Climate Change, Ecocide, Cultural Violence, Social Injustice, Ebola, and Mutually Assured Destruction; and Armageddon: The End of Progress and Growth.

SD 535: Design with Nature (3 credits)
Nature-based design is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul. The core idea is that nature has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. After billions of years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival.

Learners in this course explore nature-based design through an investigation of the following: biomimicry; biophilia; reconnecting—healing the body/mind split; natural learning; buildings and processes; terra-forming and geo-engineering; landscape restoration vs. the human-made landscape; and artificial life.

SD 536: Towards a New Story of Eldership, Dying, and Death (3 credits)

We all will die eventually. What are the human stories, thoughts, and personal beliefs regarding the unavoidable outcome of living? What does contextual culture, spiritual practice, and post-modern science have to say about dying and death? Can we be ‘OK’ with our personal relationship to spirituality, dying, and death itself?

Learners in this course explore the following: Ways of Experience: what do we know for sure; Preparing: the Expected Unknown; The Life Spiral—Who am I, when did I become ‘me’ and what is it that dies; Completion and the ‘Good Death;’ The Art of Losing: Grief, Praise, Mourning and Letting Go; Ancestors and the Departed; What Dreams May Come: the Life Between Lives; and Cultural Cross-currents and the Variety of Human Experience.

SD 537: Explorations in Collective Intelligence: Learning Communities and Creative Non-linear Possibility (3 credits)

Learners in this course will engage, with the faculty mentor, in an experientially based research exploration into the role of collective intelligence in the ‘self-designed’ learning community. As a community of practice, learners will first survey the literature on learning cohorts, organizations, and collective intelligence in order to create a synoptic overview of current practice and experience. At the same time each learner will make individual observations from within our community of practice. The specifics of this process will be self-designed collectively by the class. Learners and the mentor will explore this question: how does the group’s collective intelligence best support the class to become self-observant while collectively exploring these issues in light of a desired outcome that depends on every member to creatively participate and grow in the context of a mutually agreed upon joint conclusion?


Encounters Program Giveaway Ceremony, SelfDesign High

SelfDesign High has an awesome gathering of learners each year in May at the Jericho Beach International Hostel. It is a fantastic experience of connecting through fun play and stimulating workshops. At each gathering there is a Giveaway Ceremony. Our elder at the event was Jonathan Taylor, and we are grateful for his introduction to this thought provoking ceremony.


Community Service in Nelson, BC

Jonathan lived in Nelson BC for many years. He recently moved to Victoria.

  • Waldorf School, Board of Directors
  • Matrix Movement Society, Founding Director
  • West Kootenay Y2K Alliance, Steering Committee
  • Crystal Mountain Community Sweat Lodge
  • Boys to Men: Rites of Passage for Adolescent Males