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AI Practitioner Issue: May 2015
Intergenerational Appreciative Inquiry: In Conversation and In Action
Focus of the Issue:
It is widely popular to categorize individuals by age and generation. References to “millennials”
circulate in the press and social media seemingly constantly. Other labels include Gen X, Baby
Boomers, Teenages, Seniors, Gen Y, The Greatest Generation, iGen, Traditionals, and more. We
categorize individuals by age as soon as they start formal school when we divide individuals by grade
levels based almost exclusively on age. Because this categorization is so prevalent in our society,
seeing beyond these socially constructed walls between age groups can be just as difficult as seeing
alternatives to traditional deficit-based problem-solving approaches to change. This is not to say that
there are not benefits to understanding the developmental differences between an infant and a toddler,
a first grader and a fifth grader, and recognizing that someone in their 20s holds a different reality of
the world than someone in their 50s. Indeed, there is value in developing understanding of these
interactions theoretically and practically. However, when age and generational differences are treated
as problems, such labels can bring about biases and limitations much like labels of religion, gender,
and race can do. We are limiting ourselves in multigenerational contexts if we are focused on the
deficits that stem from multi-age interactions.
Intergenerational interactions are a specific type of multigenerational interactions. In both types of
these interactions, people from different generations are coming together in conversation or action.
However, in multigenerational interactions, the strengths inherent in such diversity are not being
leveraged. In the workplace, multigenerational workforces have been characterized as something that
needs to be managed and overcome. In contrast, intergenerational interactions happen when we
leverage generational diversity. In intergenerational interactions, engaging with people of different
generations is seen as opportunity. They allow us to go beyond what would otherwise be possible,
maximize our innovative potential, and realize new levels of generativity. Instead of allowing socially
constructed labels based on people’s age to be barriers, they are seen as a means to something
greater. By embracing intergenerational interactions, we open ourselves up to transformative
conversations and actions with those of another generation. By moving from multigenerational
interactions to intergenerational interactions, we expand our mutual capacity for the positive. In
intergenerational settings, having different ages together creates a maximum mix that is magic.
This issue will focus on theoretical and practical aspects of Intergenerational interactions - where
multiple ages of individuals coming together increases opportunity, possibility, and generativity. The
call of this issue is for cases, experiences, academic studies, and other expressions of the expanded
energy and breakthrough thinking that can happen when many generations “mix it up” together and
expand their individual and collective capacities. This issue seeks to highlight theoretical concepts and
practical examples related to individuals, businesses, schools, communities, families and other
organizations flourishing through the maximum mix of ages and perspectives.
Preparing your proposed contribution:
Here are some questions that may be useful to reflect upon as you think about your contribution to the
● What is Intergenerational Appreciative Inquiry?
● How have families and living arrangements changed over the last several generations?
● What theories or principles explain the power of intergenerational conversations and actions?
● What are examples of generative intergenerational relationships and gatherings?
● When have we overcome agism in society? How are these efforts evolving?
● Do we face intergenerational conflicts over resources? What theories and methods could help
in such situations?
● How can individuals, organizations, and/or systems shift from a multigenerational to an
intergenerational stance?
● Does the way “big data” and marketing segment age cohorts theoretically or practically create
benefits or limitations?
● What satisfaction has come from intergenerational actions you know about or have
● What are examples of high quality intergenerational relationships in your own life?
● What are cultural and international differences in intergenerational stances?
● Where does intergenerational action have the biggest impact? - for example, health,
community development, education, business, or environmental stewardship
● What role might the arts play in developing intergenerational relationships?
● How can social networking and information technology foster and leverage positive
intergenerational interactions?
Possible topics:
● Living an Intergenerational life
● Developing an Appreciative Intergenerational Stance
● The Principles and Theories of Intergenerational Appreciative Inquiry
● Using Appreciative Inquiry to Bridge Generational Gaps
● Flourishing environments where those of different ages and stages mutually benefit
● Intergenerational learning
● Intergenerational interactions in families, organizations, and learning environments
● Intergenerational Appreciative Inquiry moments and events
● Fostering an Intergenerational culture
Dr. Matthew Moehle has nearly four decades of intergenerational experience as a son, teacher, father,
administrator, and colleague with friends of all ages and stages of life. He is also Associate Professor
and Academic Coordinator for Field-based Graduate Education Programs at Southern New
Hampshire University and helps lead the Positive Change Core.
Dr. Marge Schiller is the Founder of the Positive Change Core, an organization focused on promoting
strength-based practices in schools and intergenerational systems. She is co-author of Appreciative
Leaders: In the Eye of the Beholder (with a second edition forthcoming). Her major focus of interest is
in Intergenerational learning and developing learning partnerships with people from many age groups.
Dr. Peter Whitehouse has diverse backgrounds in neurobiology, psychology, organizational behavior,
and health education, including extensive research and ground-breaking work advancing the
understanding of brain health. He works in the organzaional innovation space globally. He is also cofounder of The Intergenerational School in Cleveland, Ohio and is President of Intergenerational
Schools International.
To contribute:
Contributions to this issue can vary widely, including stories, case studies, videos, creative writing
pieces, reflections, research, art, poetry, animations, and more. We invite you to send a short
proposal (500 words maximum) by January 1, 2015 for the May 2015 issue of AI Practitioner to
Matthew Moehle at [email protected]
While the length of the final submissions can vary, final written articles and creative writing pieces
should generally range from 500 to 2000 words. Art and diagrams should be high resolution,
publication ready. Other formats for sharing should be similar in scope and professionalism. The
deadline for all final submissions is February 15, 2015.