The team at Metaculture

meet Ashok Panikkar

Ashok Panikker
Given his interest in
Critical and
Creative Thinking
Ashok sometimes feels
like he is a hypotheisis that is being put out into the world to be tested. At other times he feels like an experiment. Some folks simply find him trying.

ASHOK PANIKKAR, Founder and Principal Consultant

Ashok is fond of saying that, while he is no Mother Theresa or Gautama Buddha, he is utterly fascinated by the intricacies and nuances of conflict resolution and peacemaking.
A facilitator for 25 years, he has been called many names, including "agent provocateur." The many hats he wears include mediator, facilitator, educator, and office clown.

When asked why he does this work, he says:

Conflicts are early warning signals that things are changing, and the old rules and norms are no longer effective. Doing this work allows me a ringside view of social changes. Paying attention to these changes helps me participate in and hopefully influence them at some level.

Ashok believes in the virtues of being clear, precise and uncomfortably honest. He is allergic to conventional wisdom, popular buzzwords, platitudes, political correctness, and sound bites.

Ashok's professional credentials include:
  • Director of Training and Workplace Mediation with a conflict resolution program in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Trainer and consultant with a Boston-based international human rights organization dealing with diversity and multicultural relations.
  • Advanced training in Conflict Resolution and Negotiation from leading U.S. institutes, including Harvard Law School, the Center for Dispute Resolution, and the Public Conversations Project.
  • Former Board Member of Mediators Beyond Borders (2010-2012), a non-profit humanitarian organization partnering with communities worldwide to build conflict resolution capacity.
  • Visiting speaker at Cardozo Law School (New York City), Colorado University (Boulder, Colorado), Regis University (Denver, Colorado), and the United Nations.
  • Keynote speaker at the Mediators Beyond Borders 2011 Annual Congress in Berkely, California and presenter at the 2010 Association of Conflict Resolution Conference in Chicago.
  • MA in Critical & Creative Thinking, University of Massachusetts.
  • Delivered talks in Belgium, Germany, Greece, India, The Netherlands, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States
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  • FAQs
    Why does Meta‑Culture hire foreigners as consultants and trainers?
    While Consensus Building and Conflict Resolution are established academic and professional fields of study in the United States, Australia, and Europe, in India it has not yet taken root. There are few, if any, post-graduation programs that prepare individuals to become practicing professionals. For this reason, and to be able to provide high quality services in India, Meta‑Culture brings a few trained practitioners from outside the country to supplement the Indian team.
    How can you navigate our conflict if you don't have domain expertise?
    Meta‑Culture consultants are experts in process design- we know how to bring together groups of people who are "stuck" in unproductive interactions and not only get them unstuck, but help them work together towards creative, satisfying, and sustainable agreements. As process facilitators, we learn enough about the content to understand the vocabulary, the points of contention, and the various perspectives, and to successfully facilitate intelligent and productive discussion. But we don't need to be domain experts to do our job - our work does not require that we provide counsel on technical minutiae or give a lecture on a specific content area.
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META SPEAK

The big ideas - and peace building in a world racked with differences is a BIG idea - require us to think big, dream big, and do big. Dialogue and mediation are radical ways of addressing the planet's ills. The notion of "balance" is entirely too moderate, and leads to complacency and conservatism. Reverting to false modesty and balance in promoting these ideas seriously compromises our work. If you have a truly big idea you have to go for broke.