Publications & Research

Research Agenda

While my research agenda has shifted from visual and intercultural communication to organizational leadership and transformation, systemic sustainability and nature-inspired innovation in form, process, and system, the focus on creative approaches to addressing all kinds of challenges is a thread through them all. I often return to existential questions in order to not only understand what it takes to thrive in our dynamic context, but how to lead and live according to nature’s life principles, so that we co-create conditions conducive to life as individuals, communities of practice, and organizations.


Rowland, R., Chanaron, JJ., Hedgspeth, C. (2013). Integral sustainovation: A sustainability-based strategic system for leading innovation. In J. J. Chanaron (Ed.), Producing New Knowledge on Entrepreneurship (pp. 135–163). Belgrade: Megatrend University Press.
ISBN 978-86-7747-493-5

Laszlo, A., Rowland, R., Johnston, T., Taylor, G. (2012). Virtual learning in a socially digitized world. World Futures: The Journal of Global Education, 68(8), 575–594.

Rowland, R. (2010). Integral sustainovation® model. Online Journal for the OD Practitioner, OD Seasoning Summer Edition.

Rowland, R., (2010). Integral sustainovation® model and praxis. In Chroust, G., Metcalf, G. (Eds.), Proceedings from Institute for Systems Engineering and Automation. Linz, Austria: Kepler University.
ISBN 3-902457-28-8

Rowland, R. (2009). Mapping the co-construction of meaning. Köln, Germany: Lambert Academic Publishing.
ISBN 978-3-8383-0438-0

Tyler, C., Valek, L., Rowland, R. (2006). Graphic facilitation and large group methods. In Bunker, B. B., Albans B. (Eds.), Handbook of Large Group Methods (pp. 394–405). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
ISBN 978-0-7879-8143-3

Tyler, C., Valek, L., Rowland, R. (2005). Graphic facilitation and large-scale interventions: Supporting dialogue between cultures at a global, multicultural, interfaith event. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 41(1), 139–152.


Integral Sustainovation®: A Sustainability-Based Strategic System for Leading Innovation

This paper offers a whole-system approach toward sustainability to leaders interested in helping organizations move toward sustainability stewardship, as a process unfolding in stages along a learning curve. Integral Sustainovation® Theory and Praxis, expressed in “return on investment and innovation” or ROIn (Rowland, 2010), are proposed as a strategic system for leading innovation toward sustainable futures. The model includes four horizontal dimensions of systemic sustainability, with five interrelated vertical developmental stages in each dimension. Integral Sustainovation® Praxis involves sustainability-based strategic processes, with associated methods and tools, that can create movement along the sustainability learning curve. In particular, this review of the model and its practical applications includes an outline of assessment methods and instruments to determine current stage-development in all four dimensions of the model; using the results of such assessment, appropriate sustainability-based innovation strategies can be designed and implemented, and their success measured. Finally, the Integral Sustainovation® Map is offered as a tool for mapping current stages and tracking progress on the sustainability learning curve.


Virtual Learning in a Socially Digitized World

Contemporary education is awakening from a crisis that has held the development of its potential and its relevance at bay for well over a century. Revolutions in science and spirituality are emerging a new relational intelligence that demands commensurate educational paradigms for its blossoming into daily engagements with life and the world around us. At the same time as people are leading increasingly interconnected lives, aware of and often participating in the narratives of people and ecosystems in other parts of the planet, information and communication technologies are increasingly integrating with and serving to mediate the human experience. This article explores the power of this confluence at the current nexus of civilizational demands in the context of increased planetary stresses and destabilizations. The case is made for a thrivable education praxis that draws on these emergent aspects of our developmental potential and emphasizes the importance of functional conviviality as an operational principle of learning for life.


Mapping the Co-Construction of Meaning

In this transdisciplinary case study the co-construction of meaning in polycultural small group environments via interactive graphic facilitation and collaborative visual mapping has been researched through the observation of ten culturally diverse volunteer participants in a visual literacy class at City College of San Francisco. Two small groups of five participants were asked to co-construct, independent from each other, a visual map depicting a mutually agreed-upon story of a common experience, and then present their map to the other group. Group collaboration and a post-process discussion were recorded and transcribed, formal and informal assessments were used to address some variables, and process and analysis models, tools, and concepts were applied. Located in the nexus of visual communication and intercultural communication, the study included approaching the research objectively and subjectively and covered three categories of theories of intercultural communication (W. B. Gudykunst, C. M. Lee, T. Nishida, & N. Ogawa, 2005): social construction and constructivist theories, theories about cultural differences, and theories concerning communication patterns, in particular communication networks. The data demonstrated that groups’ communication patterns were projected into the gestalt of the visual maps, and the coconstruction of meaning was not found in the individuals’ personal frames, but in the communication pattern between them—not in the elements of the visual map but in the gestalt. The cocreated meaning was confirmed in a self-organized seating constellation that mirrored the hierarchy of the groups to each other and exposed, subconsciously, the roles individuals had played. In an Epilogue to the traditional dissertation chapters, integral theory—in particular D. E. Beck’s (n.d.) Spiral Dynamics Integral and K. Wilber’s (2005) All Quadrants All Levels—provided the foundation for developing two new models to accommodate the interdependent relationship between the elements of the human core (the Layers of Complexity) and to fully investigate the communication acts through objective and subjective lenses on the individual and collective levels (the Map of Complexity). Data suggested a paradigm shift into polyculturalism with transcultural communication forms, and the potential multipositionality and contextuality of cultural hybrids, leading to the hypothesis that culture has become an available design.


Graphic Facilitation and Large-Scale Interventions: Supporting Dialogue between Cultures at a Global, Multicultural, Interfaith Event

This article describes an international, multicultural, interfaith event sponsored by the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) that integrated graphic facilitation as a design component to support deep dialogue and encourage constructive action by participants representing a considerable diversity of cultures, languages, and traditions of faith. The abundance of graphic professionals (10) was a unique feature of the event staffing. The event was a mini laboratory for insights into the effective application of graphics in a global large system initiative. Graphic work moved beyond recording “call out” statements from participants to more nuanced, reflective, and participatory representations of large and small group dynamics. Graphic facilitators applied seven distinct forms of graphic utilization with facilitators and participants. The addition of graphic facilitation to the more traditional methods of facilitation was found to contribute significantly to participant engagement and sustainability.


full articles available upon request