Nicole Anand

Tapping into endless curiosity – the making of an infinite learner

We’re stuck in an archaic mode of learning. Our learning institutions & mindsets are outdated. Programs complementary to formal education (opportunities often reaped in liminal periods and career transitions) are ad-hoc & timebound, failing to support learning that sticks & spreads through our systems. Our unique capability as humans is to be endlessly curious – how might we become infinite learners? To tackle the complex socio-political problems of today & the future, we need to be multidisciplinary & work across sectors. While many groups encourage this mode of collaboration (eg. Open Government Partnership, Nesta’s States of Change) the cognitive glue to foster agile, ongoing, intergenerational learning continues to be missing at scale. At The Residency, we are building a global learning collective for Change Designers through a participatory design process. We’re testing 4 hypotheses based on learning theories & empirical evidence of learning models: 1)learning sticks when it is layered (peer-to-peer, explicit, participatory, & self-directed) 2)learning spreads when it is regenerative through intentional collective practice 3)seamless multidisciplinarity requires close attention to intersections of generalist/specialist (e.g process/subject-matter knowledge) 4) mindsets (dispositions, reasoning, emotions,& implicit rules) are barriers to impactful learning.


Nicole is the co-founder of The Residency, an emergent practical learning collective for Change Designers – civil servants, civil society and social designers -and part-time faculty in the Transdisciplinary Design MFA program at the Parsons School of Design, The New School in New York. She is a political economist with a specialized practice in participatory design and mixed-methods research and runs a consultancy, Collectivist, focused on governance and systems change. Nicole has extensive experience in research, program implementation, and community facilitation in South Asia, Latin America and West Africa. Previously, Nicole directed the strategy and learning of international civil society organizations while contributing as a leader in the open government movement.