Human Venture Foundations

An introductory course for transforming how we understand and tackle systemic challenges by learning about the human story across disciplines and cultures.

Course Description

Human Venture Foundations is a five-month program co-facilitated by Elizabeth Dozois and Mark Hopkins. It is designed to give participants a foundational understanding of Human Learning Ecology, a new cross-disciplinary field of study on how human beings, from individuals to civilizations, learn or fail to learn. Through the exploration of a wide range of human endeavours - engineering, military strategy, science, forensics, epidemiology, ethics, education, politics, and more - participants will gain insight into the roots of a diversity of issues and how they might be addressed. For example:

  • What shapes how we understand climate change and why is denial and avoidance a common response?  
  • What are the limitations of schooling in preparing students for life?
  • What is the role of culture in how we think, act and care?
  • What capacities do we need to anticipate and prevent problems?
  • What does it mean to be alive and human in our time and place in history?

Participants will be encouraged to read widely, engage in challenging deep conversations, and develop the stamina for life-long learning.

We are human 'becomings,' not human beings because our species is young and we are still shaping it.
Ken Low

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Reasons to take the Course


Explore examples of human intelligence and folly from a broad range of domains throughout history and across cultures, including engineering, military strategy, science, ethics, education, politics, and much, much more. 

Connect with others who are also invested in how we contribute to the human journey. Tackling systemic challenges takes a mutual learning community.
Revisit Ken Low's work in a new and improved way to develop a foundational understanding of Human Learning Ecology.
Nurture the quality of your thinking, caring, and acting through exploring the human story. Delve deeper into what it would take to live up to our namesake: homo sapiens, wise person.
Tools for assessing frames, cultivating
Examine the "big picture" frames and how they shapes our society.

    Course Structure

    This five-month program, co-facilitated by Elizabeth Dozois and Mark Hopkins, starts with a two-day in-person Opening Retreat in Red Deer followed by monthly Learning Days on Saturdays held in Calgary and Edmonton. Remote in-class attendance will be possible from other locations. There will also be a handful of “touchpoint” virtual gatherings between certain learning days.

    Participants will also participate in “learning circles”, smaller groups that connect regularly to explore and learn together. These groups will be facilitated by a guide, and provide support for the marathon that is life-long learning.

    For those that cannot commit to the in-class time requirements, participants can subscribe to our members-only podcast. Course presentations, interviews and other exclusive content will be released weekly via your favourite podcast app.

    Key Dates

    Date Description
    Jan 19-20, 2024 Opening Retreat (Red Deer)
    9 am - 5 pm each day with overnight (TBC)
    Jan 31, 2024 Mini-Session (online)
    7 pm - 9 pm
    Feb 10, 2024 Learning Day #1 (Calgary or Edmonton)
    9 am - 5 pm
    Mar 2, 2024 Learning Day #2 (Calgary or Edmonton)
    9 am - 5 pm
    Mar 23, 2024 Learning Day #3 (Calgary or Edmonton)
    9 am - 5 pm
    Apr 3, 2024 Mini-Session (online)
    7 pm - 9 pm
    Apr 13, 2024 Learning Day #4 (Calgary or Edmonton)
    9 am - 5 pm
    May 4, 20224 Learning Day #5 (Calgary or Edmonton)
    9 am - 5 pm
    May 25, 2024 Closing Day (Red Deer)
    9 am - 5 pm

    Ways to Participate

    In-Person Class (Calgary or Edmonton Only)

    For the full participatory experience of learning together in-person with facilitators Elizabeth Dozois and Mark Hopkins

    Attend Remotely

    Participate in-class remotely through Zoom from anywhere you have internet. 

    Subscribe to Podcast

    Listen to the course presentations at your own leisure through weekly episodes with host Chris Hsiung. Bonus content included.

    The Investment

    The human venture requires as many people as possible invested in our collective journey. We want to make this course accessible to everyone. When registering for this class, you will choose how much to pay for it, depending on what feels right to you and your situation. This will differ for each person, but if you are keen to connect with the human story, we would love to have you.

    In-Person Class
    Includes a two-day overnight opening retreat, six full day in-class sessions, two mini online sessions, and access to the podcast.

    Market Rate: $1950
    Your Rate: Flexible

    Remote Class
    Includes remote access two-day opening retreat, six full day sessions, two mini online sessions, and access to the podcast.

    Market Rate: $1350
    Your Rate: Flexible

    Includes weekly episodes of course presentation, interviews, and bonus content delivered to your favourite podcast app.

    Market Rate: $600
    Your Rate: Flexible


    Elizabeth Dozois

    Lead Facilitator
    Elizabeth Dozois (Word on the Street Ltd.) is a Calgary-based consultant who provides strategic support, research, curriculum design, and facilitation to organisations in the non-profit and public sectors. She is currently working with the Calgary Police Service to enhance psychological safety, equity, inclusion, and belonging through an initiative called the Art of the Nudge. She is a Human Venture Institute (HVI) Associate and has been helping to deliver Human Venture leadership programs for almost two decades.

    Mark Hopkins


    Mark Hopkins (he/him) is a theatre artist with Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre, which generates productive discomfort through art-making. He volunteers with Kawalease Arab Canadian Theatre and the Centre for Newcomers, is a Fellow with the Energy Futures Lab, and founded We Should Know Each Other, a community-bridging initiative. He has spent the past decade involved in Human Venture programs including co-facilitating Integrity Leadership, an introductory program in partnership with the Alberta Network of Immigrant Women. Mark is currently a Human Venture Associate and a Human Venture Leadership board member.


    Chris Hsiung

    Podcast Producer
    Chris Hsiung is an engineer turned documentary filmmaker. He runs Hidden Story Productions, a company dedicated to using digital media to nurture a more compassionate, just, and intelligent society. Chris has produced award winning documentaries, museum exhibits, and multimedia cultural centres. Chris is a Human Venture Institute (HVI) Associate and has served in a variety of capacities as volunteer, program facilitator, and board member over the last two decades.

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