Social Practitioners

26 March to 2 April 2022

A relational and emergent practice for social change

As social practitioners we often observe tensions between what is planned and programmed and the messy, complex, relational, ambiguous nature of what we see happening. This expresses itself through the dissonance between the intentions of the work and the outcomes. Our urgency to achieve change often lies on automatic ways of doing that we hardly question – focusing solely on results, rather than process, on plans rather than response, on doing rather than observing. This training is hosted as part of the Ulex South Project

This course explores moving from an automatic response to observing the processes of life and nature where actions are not guided by linear pre-planned processes and/or undertaken by management teams; but instead are emerging responses from constant interactions amongst the people involved.

It seems to be an intention playing itself out unconsciously for us, but through our activities that despite the best of humanistic intentions, the unspoken habits of the sector hold sway. (Allan Kaplan)

We will work with organic approaches to social and ecological practice. To work in ways that are respectful of the complexity and true nature of our challenges. “Encountering the problems we face in the world today requires the exercise of a responsive creativity premised on our own transformation in the process of engagement” A. Kaplan. Engaging in this way is built through a disciplined practice of observation.We will learn how ecological thinking resonates and apply with social work. We will explore the disciplines of goethean sciences – what is called the practice of social phenomenology – using our own experience to pay delicate attention to our activism. Grounding our learning in the practice of observation and imagination.

Social Phenomenology

Perception is a two way street where our projections influence the seeing so that what we see is in fact what we project. Social work, and migrant solidarity work is a field that is played out in a delicate space of diverse perceptions of the world. It is particularly necessary in this terrain to be aware of the kinds of thinking with which action is created.  A blindness to this realisation could entail a predominant understanding over others and an imbalance in terms of the capacity to influence and decide on those not represented, and finally on power and participation.


We will follow Goethean exercises of observation to develop the skills of shifting perception. We will apply that observation to natural processes and social processes looking deeply with these lenses into our own work.

Other ways of seeing and other intelligence will be developed within the use of paint, craft, body work, performance, social presencing theatre.


This training is hosted as part of the Ulex South Project


  • Kaplan (2005) Emerging out of Goethe. Goethe’s Delicate Empiricism, Trivium Publications.
  • Kaplan, A. and Davidson, S. (2014). A Delicate Activism.  The Proteus Initiative: Cape Town.
  • Gergen, K. J. (2015) From Mirroring to World‐Making: Research as Future Forming. J Theory Soc Behav, 45: 287–310. doi: 10.1111/jtsb.12075.
  • Bortoft (2012) Taking Appearance Seriously: The Dynamic Way of Seeing in Goethe and European Thought. Floris Books.
Contribución sugerida
En la economía solidaria: €300/€500/€1200
(ver los detalles de nuestro enfoque hacia Economía solidaria)

The Team

Our Name

Ulex: Latin (argelaga Catalan, gorse English) noun:

1. A thorny-evergreen flowering shrub, with a high capacity for regeneration and resilience. Its seedpods open in contact with fire and it reshoots from charred stumps. A successionary plant that grows well under challenging conditions. It improves soil fertility through nitrogen fixing, preparing the way for renewed biodiversity.

2. A traditional choice for igniting fires. Burns hot and bright.

3. A networked project adding nutrition and fertility to European social movements through training and capacity building. It kindles the realisation of social justice, ecological intelligence, and cognitive vitality.