Will You be the Patron of Understanding People?


In the 1960’s a handful of people launched a global revolution by seeding the Public Understanding of Science; making science accessible to all, not just those in the ivory tower and attainable as a career for all. It took us to the moon, linked billions of people through the internet, exponentially increased what we know about our biological and physical world, and made everyone into scientists.

What if, in 2019 we were to seed a neo-renaissance, an explosion of knowledge and understanding about our humanity through a global Public Understanding of Humanity? We could remove the barriers between people and replace them with bridges. We use those links to build authentic connections. We could translate knowledge into action. And allow us all to find and enjoy our place in the human community.


The Old Rules Don’t Apply


In recent ages - whether industrial or information - the control of resources and production were paramount in the success of economies and individuals. But as Marina Gorbis at the Institute for the Future has noted, that old order has been disrupted, overturned. replacing an institutionalized economy with a social-structed one.

And in that social future, people are the core of economic and personal fulfillment, and our understanding of people is the engine that will determine our success. Sensemaking, emotional and social intelligence, cross-cultural competence, adaptive thinking, and moral and ethical reason will be the skills in trade.

As we transition to this new Human Age, we have a responsibility, and to be quite frank a necessity, to give every person around the world an opportunity to thrive in and contribute to society. We need full participation in order to reverse climate change, we need the undiscovered options for tackling terrorism or inequality that are locked in the head of a child in Dakar, or a teacher in Lucknow. And we owe it to the generations of people who have struggled under oppressive systems to free their children from the same destiny.

And so we need to prepare all people the tools to thrive in a social-structed economy, to know who they are and be proud of where they come from and still feel a part of a global community, and ultimately to find fulfillment in the Human Age



Amount of the world’s jobs will be replaced by robots in 25 years


GRowth rate of the Service Economy over the last 30 years



estimated savings in IT costs through Human Centered Design


Amount of classroom time spent on the Social Sciences


Living with Understanding


The Promise of A Public Understanding of Humanity

The power of a Public Understanding of Humanity comes from not from the ideal of infinite understanding of all by all but rather in the form of an attainable, practical concept: an ordinary understanding of people that can serve us all to live, work, and participate in society to the best of our capacity. It is the idea that, like in the interventions of public health, if we most of us can achieve a baseline literacy of understanding we need not all become Dalai Lama-esque masters to bring its benefits to all.

In many of the best conversations we have about social and emotional intelligence, we often overlook the primary source and beneficiary of understanding people: ourselves. For we are people worth understanding too. When we practice understanding we find the keys to a rich and fulfilling life. By knowing and addressing our fears and blindspots. By deepening our connections to those we love. By finding ways to build bridges to those who seem so different. Through an understanding of people we open our lives to benefit from the full diversity of the human experience. 

A Public Understanding of Humanity is critical for the economy of the 21st century and beyond. It is the root of design and creation. It is the engine of inter-organization collaboration and workplace cohesion. It is the root of speaking to and serving customers and constituents with an authenticity that keeps them coming back. With it we can create better businesses, better products, and better workplaces.

We exist in a moment where our societal level challenges,  political polarization and bigotry to economic inequality and climate change can no longer hold. We face a choice, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., between chaos or community. And here to Understanding is the skill that will determine our success. It can support the compromise and systemic participation necessary to turn around climate change. It can open conversations necessary to heal the trauma of centuries of oppression and exploitation. And It can propel us forward into a future that serves all and includes all.

The power of a Public Understanding of Humanity is vast, the time to open that power to all is now.


The Ubuntu Lab is Leading The World Into an Age of Understanding


Bringing People Together To Learn

The Ubuntu Lab is building spaces and tools that connect people to the process of learning. Co-creating content, building the scaffolding upon which connections across cultures and identities can build, pulling people out of their comfort zone to learn but not be talked down to. Our goal is to unite people through their diversity, and help them teach each other to understand people.

Photo by Georgijevic/iStock / Getty Images

Merging Physical Space & Digital Tools

While saying the “world is our classroom” may seem obvious and cliched, it is only that way because so few actually are able to use that classroom. At the Ubuntu Lab we are creating the tools and experiences that allow everyone to learn from their participation in the global community.


Blending Information & Lived Experience

Our content blends information drawn from experts and data with the stories and experiences of real people. Giving people a way to translate theory into real life, and reconcile the spectrum of experience with raw data.


A Systemic Approach to Change

Our model of change addresses a broad spectrum of our social system, from families and classrooms, to policies and businesses, we cannot take on just one point and hope to have an effect on how most people experience their world. Our team has done it before for different causes, and we can do it again.

Ubuntu Grey.png

Build That Future With Us


In 1968 when Frank Oppenheimer returned from his exile to Colorado, he arrived in San Francisco with an exhibit and a dream. He began toting this exhibit around talking to anyone who would listen about his idea for a Science Exploration Center. One of the first people to recognize the value of this concept was Gordon Moore (co-founder of Intel and namesake of Moore’s Law). Not only did Moore hand over millions of 1960’s dollars, but he became Frank’s patron and champion, opening doors at foundations, City Hall, in the media, and with the federal government who had black listed Frank for his activism.

Over the next 50 years the Exploratorium redefined how we learn science, creating a new category of museum, the hands on science center. The proliferation of these public spaces around the world catalyzed the Public Understanding of Science from Lansing, Michigan to Abu Dhabi. They have been directly responsible for effective science learning becoming commonplace in classrooms around the globe by creating the methods of teaching, engaging curriculum,  and inspiring people to follow their curiosity. They broke the mindset that science is something that old white men in lab coats do somewhere else; transforming it into something we all do, everyday. This has led to increased a society that participates in and values science and technology in a way that it never has before. For 50 years hands on science centers have served as the hubs, the instigators, and the innovators of how we learn about and conceptualize our natural world.

Together, the legacy of Gordon and Frank (thanks in no small part to an amazing staff and community who took this idea and ran with it) is a global public understanding of science that would have been unimaginable in the 50s.

In order to launch a Public Understanding of Humanity we need another new category of public institution, this time one that is dedicated to helping people understand people. A place that can reach young people to help them develop a mindset of human discovery and connection. A place for parents to turn to when events in the world become too hard to explain. A place for teachers to go to figure out the a way to teach history, art, philosophy, psychology, literature, biology, sociology, that inspires and connects. A place for forward-thinking change-makers to go for connection with the people they want to move. In short, we need a place to deepen our understanding of ourselves, to develop the knowledge and skills of understanding others, and to develop an understanding of the systems and forces that shape our society and civilization. 

At the Ubuntu Lab we are building that category, but the question remains: who will be our Gordon Moore? We need a champion, a patron, and an evangelist. We need someone to make a substantial financial commitment to help us pass the threshold of small scale experiments into full scale spaces. But whats more, we need someone who has the keys to other doors. The person who can introduce us to the next ten visionary donors, who can arrange a meeting with a mayor or a president, who can help us fill out a powerful board of directors, who will be a mentor and friend. And most of all, will be a lifelong supporter of our work.

Are you the next Gordon Moore? Do you see a world that is broken and suffering and want to be part of the small team of dedicated people that changes things forever? Do you have the vision and resources to take a revolutionary idea and make it actionable? Can you be a catalyst for a global revolution?


Become Our Patron

Ubuntu Red.png