2010 Octagon Conference

2010: Vitalism Working Summits


At the 2009 Octagon conference on The New Vitalism, conference faculty charged Octagon staff with convening a group of interested stakeholders to develop a set of tactical plans and steps to ‘operationalize’ the consensus definition of vitalism and the vital reaction. As ‘the new vitalism’ gains more interested stakeholders and the potential relevance of utilizing it to inform various educational, policy, legal, and societal efforts and initiatives, it will be important to develop a ‘road map’ of strategies and tactics, and to ensure that the broadest group of potential stakeholders are informed of the opportunities for awareness, participation, and engagement.

On April 8th and 9th, 2010, a small group of invited conversants met during Life University’s Spring Lyceum event to have some of these discussions.

Three ‘focused conversations’ took place with a core set of participants leading the facilitated discussions.

These were held as an extension of the 2009 Octagon conference on The New Vitalism,Vis Medicatrix Naturae: Stewardship of the Source of Healing. The work products of these informal meetings are available below.
Among the questions that were considered were:

  • Can a new paradigm of health and healing be constructed based on precepts identified in the philosophy and cosmology of vitalism? What or whom does this paradigm potentially include? What or whom does it potentially exclude?
  • To broaden the consideration, development, adoption and utilization of such a paradigm, is the body of knowledge sufficient to develop a discipline for this paradigm?
  • If the body of knowledge is not sufficient, what elements are needed? Where might they come from?
  • What set of professions and paradigms currently considered to have value and application need to be included in this new discipline?
  • Assuming that elements of this new paradigm can be identified at present, what are some of the opportunities, challenges, and implications of applying this paradigm across the spectrum of human growth and development?
  • Anticipating that there is potential value in this application, what practical steps need to and should be taken to broaden the conversation and discourse about this, especially in various media and non-academic/non-scientific stakeholder groups or ‘end users’?
  • Expecting that one of the specific areas of potential value is in the development and application of American health policy, what relationships, collaborations, discussions, etc., should be established to explore new policies, research, and outcomes models to test the paradigm?

The first group considered questions related to Developing The Discipline.

The set of questions that were discussed and considered included:

  • Building on the consensus definitions of vitalism and the vital reaction reached by accord last year, what is needed to more fully develop the body of knowledge, understanding, research, and application?
  • What professions are stakeholders?
  • What academic and non-academic areas of domain expertise are involved, interrelated, aligned, opposed, or undetermined?
  • What needs to be included? Excluded? What is the basis for each?
  • What metrics need to be agreed upon and employed to measure the parameters of the discipline?
  • Is the discipline to be maintained by a central professional, academic, or cultural authority? Or is it to be dispersed among a set of aligned interests?
  • Does the body of knowledge and information establish a defensible and intact paradigm with independent or dependent value?

The second group was convened to consider opportunities, challenges, and implications of applying the new paradigm Across the Spectrum of Human Growth and Development.

Among the types of questions that were discussed and considered were the following:

  • Assuming that a new paradigm can be defined and supported, and given different developmental ages and stages of human life, what are the potential implications of integrating this paradigm across various efforts that exist to encourage, support, provide stewardship, or directly intervene in human growth?
  • Beyond the academic domain, what areas of exploration, research, market intelligence, consumer resources, or other commercial concerns need to be incorporated in development and planning?
  • What practical and concrete steps need to be taken to communicate these efforts to various stakeholders? What resources might be required to accomplish this—human, financial, and temporal?

The third group was convened to consider a more focused application of vitalistic philosophy and consider some of the potential opportunities, challenges, and related considerations as it pertains to American health policy development. Assuming that this new paradigm of a vitalistically-based orientation toward health, wellness, system-side services and resource planning can be defined and supported, and with the understanding that American health policy is currently primarily focused on disease prevention, what are the implications of using vitalistic precepts as an alternative?

  • Again, assuming that this new paradigm can be defined and supported, and with the understanding that American health policy is primarily focused on disease prevention, what are the implications of using vitalistic precepts as an alternative?
  • How can the opportunity be framed?
  • Can vitalism and disease management co-exist, or are they mutually exclusive?
  • How should expectations for outcomes be defined?
  • What metrics should be employed for evaluating value?
  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • What are the associated political dimensions?
  • What are the potential points of engagement and opportunity?

Conference Proceedings

The work product materials that these groups created will be used as a basis for communications and outreach efforts to various stakeholders and groups identified during the conversations and beyond.

For a copy of this document, please click here.

Life University wishes to thank NCMIC for its generous support of these Octagon Working Summits.