Welcome to the Blog

Dear Readers, 

Welcome to keileggers.com/sensemakingforcities.com. I purchased this website nearly three years ago in preparation for my SXSW presentation on utilizing a sensemaking approach in cities to transform conflicts. While that particular thread of my work didn’t take off at the time, the time for complexity-informed conflict resolution is near. 

  1. How can conflict transformation be scaled in complex systems? 
  2. What would a post-workshop conflict resolution practice look like? 
  3. How can SenseMaker technology and a participatory narrative inquiry approach be utilized to effectively transform conflicts?

The goal of this blog is to offer my reflections on theory, practice, and what I’m reading to generate conversation around the three questions above. This semester I’m taking a Directed Reading on Conflict, Complexity and Sensemaking with Dr. Solon Simmons and will be writing a weekly 1000-word reflection to be published on the blog (the reading list is at the bottom of this post). I’ll try and get these published every Monday. I anticipate that one of the greatest challenges in writing the blog will be speaking with different audiences and distinguishing between academic writing and translating my ideas into language that is comprehensible for everyone else. To manage this, I will tag blogs so that it’s easy to tell which posts are thought leadership for the Peace Engineering Lab, which are reading reflections, and which are general theoretical or practical discussions. At the end of the day, I hope to ennoble more participation in peace work rather than create a high barrier for entry. 

Brief Life Update

The first stage of a complexity-informed approach is to map the “disposition of the system” and define where we are before deciding what needs to be done to moving forward. I realized over the winter break that I actually accomplished a lot during my first semester but didn’t have much time to stop and celebrate along the way. 

In fall 2020 I… 

  • Established the Carter School Peace Engineering Lab with Dean Alpaslan Ozerdem and several other Carter School students. 
  • Developed a SenseMaker project on the intersection of vulnerability, cybersecurity, and the pandemic with Dr. Sara Cobb and fellow PhD student Kristin Weiss. This project will catalyze work within the Center for Resilient and Sustainable Communities (C-RASC).
  • Completed a report on Anticipatory Innovation Governance in the Gipuzkoa region of Basque Country with the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation. I assisted with interviews of key stakeholders of the Etorkizuna Eraikiz (Building the Future) initiative and helped with a workshop to help the government determine their governance model to best support innovation. 
  • Ran a pilot SenseMaker project with the Agirre Lehendakaria Center (in Basque Country) about adaptive pandemic responses and the food system in the Deep South of Thailand. The project was conducted in partnership with UNDP Asia Pacific Regional Innovation Centre to test how SenseMaker could supplement ALC’s open innovation platform approach and digital listening efforts. 
  • Advised the Center for Public Partnerships and Research on SenseMaker and anticipatory innovation governance strategy for Our Tomorrows and the early childhood systems building work in Kansas. 
  • Completed my first semester as a PhD student at the Carter School. 

As you can see, this portfolio of work is helping me bring together anticipatory innovation governance, SenseMaker practice, and peace engineering with all of the academic work I’m completing for my PhD. When the OPSI and ALC reports are cleared for sharing, I will post them here.  

What’s happening this semester? 

I’m looking forward to this semester for two reasons: the Peace Engineering Lab work will be picking up and I’ll be focusing on developing my methodological approach for my dissertation. I’m enrolled in two methods courses- Qualitative Foundations: Humanities with Dr. Marc Gopin and Qualitative Research Methods with Dr. Dan Rothbart. I will be paying special attention to the whole portfolio of my methodological approach and determining how I will be documenting the SenseMaker research process. I’m also working with Dr. Wendy Elford, an Australian researcher that I met through long-time SenseMaker collaborator Paul Ader, to learn how to use Leximancer- a machine learning tool that generates lexical maps of narrative. Leximancer will ideally support the analysis of qualitative SenseMaker data at scale without overburdening a research team. My work with Wendy has also made me realize how important it will be to begin identifying the assumptions that ground my approach and connecting them to the relevant literature. I realize that even within the guiding questions I identified at the beginning of this post, there are potentially many dissertations worth of background- I’ll do my best to start to name the giants upon whose shoulders I stand. 

In the upcoming weeks I will post some updates from the Peace Engineering Lab and events that I have planned for the semester. In these pandemic times, it is hard not to feel bitter about being unable to meet my cohort and professors. To make up for the lack of contact, I’m doing my best to create opportunities for discussion and collaboration on projects so that we can still feel like a Carter School community.

I’m looking forward to learning with you! If you have any thoughts or comments, please don’t hesitate to share them. I hope that this blog can stimulate some larger conversations within the Carter School and beyond, and any feedback is immensely helpful to me in my own journey as a scholar and practitioner.

Until next time, 


Below is the list of books that I will be reading and reflecting on for my Directed Reading. Feel free to join in!

1Snowden, Dave, Zhen Goh, and Sonja Blignaut. Cynefin – Weaving Sense-Making into the Fabric of Our World. Edited by Riva Greenberg and Boudewijn Bertsch. Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd, 2020. 
2Thagard, Paul. Coherence in Thought and Action. Reprint edition. A Bradford Book, 2002. 
3Marchau, Vincent A. W. J., Warren E. Walker, Pieter J. T. M. Bloemen, and Steven W. Popper. Decision Making under Deep Uncertainty: From Theory to Practice. 1st edition. Springer, 2019. 
4Clark, Andy. Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 
5Miller, Riel, ed. Transforming the Future: Anticipation in the 21st Century. 1st edition. Routledge, 2018. 
6Fricker, Miranda. Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. 1st edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. 
7Dervin, Brenda, Lois Foreman-Wernet, and Eric Lauterbach, eds. Sense-Making Methodology Reader: Selected Writings of Brenda Dervin. New ed. edition. Cresskill, N.J: Hampton Pr, 2003. 
8Cilliers, Paul. Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems. 1 edition. London ; New York: Routledge, 1998. 
9Underwood, Ted. Distant Horizons: Digital Evidence and Literary Change. First edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019. 
10Weick, Karl E. Sensemaking in Organizations. Vol. 3. Sage, 1995.
11Inayatullah, Sohail. “The Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) Reader.” Theory and Case Studies of an Integrative and Transformative Methodology, 2004. 
12Nelson, Richard R. The Moon and the Ghetto. 1st edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1977. 
13Fuerth, Leon S., and Evan M. Faber. “Anticipatory Governance Practical Upgrades: Equipping the Executive Branch to Cope with Increasing Speed and Complexity of Major Challenges.” NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV FORT MCNAIR DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES, 2012. 
14Boisot, Max. Information and Organizations: The Manager as Anthropologist. London: HarperCollins, 1987. 
Conflict, Complexity and Sense-making reading plan