Origins

Since 1996 Comenius has been organising, together with leading universities and research institutes from Europe, America and China, courses that are rooted in the academic tradition of research and dialogue. The courses draw on the classic sources of wisdom and are inspired by the seven liberal arts or septem artes liberales

Comenius Courses are intended for executives: experienced directors and managers from the public and private sectors such as chief executives and executive board members, supervisory board members, (staff) executives, senior partners and business unit managers.

To be eligible for a Comenius Course, an academic level of professional and educational experience is required.

Participants who have successfully completed a Comenius Course will join the alumni network: the Comenius Academy. Exclusive activities and lectures ensure that the inspiration, reflection and insights which have been acquired during a Comenius Course stay vital and relevant.

The Comenius alumni or ‘Comenians’ are strong people with a clear vision. They share a strong ambition and drive; they have an open and enquiring mind and a broad perspective. Together they are free thinkers, who ‘want to explore everything’.

Comenius is affiliated with the University of Groningen and is accordingly also a member of the Coimbra Group, an association of Europe‘s best, multi-disciplinary universities. The Coimbra Group provides access to the League of European Research Universities.

The AOG Foundation (for Groningen Academic Courses), which was founded in 1988 by the Board of the University of Groningen, supervises the academic quality of the Comenius courses.

Jan Amos Komensky: Comenius

The collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach of Comenius Courses is inspired by the thinking and writing of the great European uomo universale and teacher Jan Amos Komensky (1592-1670). He believed inspirational leadership to be vital, especially in times of chaos and disorder. He called on leaders to see the interconnectedness of separate problems and to collectively strive towards solutions through oversight and vision. In this regard he stated that there is nothing on earth that man with the gift of his senses and mind wouldn’t be able to do.

Comenius, who was born in 1592 in what is known today as the Czech Republic, was himself the classic example of the ‘homo universalis’: the founder of modern pedagogy. His educational ideas are still used throughout the world and form the foundation of the Comenius Courses.

When Komensky wrote his masterpiece Labyrinth of the World in 1623, he imagined the world as a city whose streets represent the different streams in society. Although the separate streams seemed clear and unambiguous in their behaviour, disorder and alienation prevailed in the city; the people at street level just could not see the other streams. Comenius advised his readers to climb a tower and to observe from there the chaos and folly, but also the interconnectedness of the different streams.

These observations are according to Comenius the basis for science, wisdom and effective decision-making. The ability to first see and observe and think inductively, to interpret and subsequently understand is essential to Comenius’ vision and legacy. This ability is the only thing, he states, that can lead our intellect to wisdom and insight.

Vision

Confucius once wrote that knowledge is not true wisdom: “True wisdom goes beyond knowledge”. This is a sharply defined statement, yet it’s not clear-cut. But it is something that we recognise.

More and more executives notice that wise and experienced leadership also requires reflection in addition to knowledge and analytical ability, and that distance and the courage to suspend the forming of an opinion or judgement is also required. And this is also about the willingness to think across the disciplines.

They see that giving space to others and to different views sharpens one’s own vision, bolsters support and optimises achieving results. Looking with an open mind at the other side of the coin and the interconnectedness of things is fundamental in this respect. The same as the willingness to see vision, strategy and realisation as parts of an evolutionary process: never static or absolute, but flowing and dynamic.

Comenius will be happy to guide you during this process of exploration and enquiry. We will do this with attention and dedication and by providing high-quality academic courses. For these courses we have put together a faculty with excellent and inspired researchers, from the Netherlands and abroad. We have moderators who have the required expertise and who will provide personal attention in facilitating your learning path.

Comenius pays a lot of attention to how the groups are put together. For this we bring together people from different backgrounds in the public and private domains, who have an academic level in their thinking and work and who have a more or less similar attitude or mindset. Comenius sees its groups as a ‘micro-cosmos’ which reflects the complexity and interactivity of society (‘macro-cosmos’).

Central ingredients in the development of vision and leadership in the Comenius Courses are:

  1. Paradigms and paradigmatic changes. The ability to critically examine and redefine contexts as a basic feature of leadership;
  2. Diversity, complexity and cohesion. Insight into the connectedness between different knowledge areas, observations and ‘truths’ as a prerequisite for leadership;
  3. 'Universitas'. Considering the different insights and experiences between participants as the building block of methodical experience and learning.

Method

Comenius invites reflection on one’s own leadership, on contemporizing this and expanding the repertoire of ‘modes’ that are required for leadership and vision in leading positions. To do this Comenius chooses a method ‘from within’, strives to touch you and make you look at the world in a different way.

Unlike other business schools, which mostly operate from business-economic principles, Comenius is based on principles of the classic, cross-disciplinary university. The university traditionally stimulates the development of interdisciplinary and fundamental knowledge, multi-faceted education, orientation on fundamental questions which yield ground-breaking insights, and a learning environment within which learning from each other is also important. Comenius sees this academic tradition as a source of inspiration and innovation.

Leading academics give thought-provoking lectures which stimulate self-reflection and invite you to review trusted views. Philosophers train you in the Socratic dialogue, in which quick judgements are replaced by listening, interpretation and analysis.

Experienced moderators facilitate the learning process of the participant. They also foster interaction among the participants and create a trusted, safe and open atmosphere: that of an inspirational haven. For the European leadership course, the Chinese leadership course and the Santa Fe Institute leadership course there is also a ‘module coordinator’ besides the moderator. The module coordinator is an authority in the relevant knowledge area, who positions the different speakers and who monitors the academic quality of the course.

Moderators

Organisation

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