Consensus 101 for Cooperative Groups

5-Week Online Course | Resumes 2023

Learn the ingredients for consensus to thrive, how to work through issues effectively with remedies for key traps, and how to support diversity in groups.

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Course description

The dominant model for how to conduct meetings in Western culture is rigorous debate, where the strongest ideas survive the battle. Consensus meetings are entirely different. In Consensus 101 for Cooperative Groups, you’ll discover how to encourage differences of opinion to emerge so that the ultimate decision has the benefit of the broadest possible input. You’ll also develop your capacity to disagree constructively, so that your group is brought closer together through the process – rather than exhausted or discouraged.

Courseinstructor, Laird Schaub, is a leading expert when it comes to using consensus decision-making within cooperative groups. Laird lays out a step-by-step model for working issues productively, explain the importance of learning to delegate effectively, explore the advantages of working with the whole person (not just the rational person), as well as unpack the myriad ways that people are different in how they take in information, how the process it, and how they communicate it. You’ll leave with a deep understanding of the method so you can bring it back to benefit your group or community.

Live classes are hosted on Zoom. All classes are recorded and available on our learning platform within 24 hours after each class ends and through 3 weeks after the last class. 

Who this course is for

  • community leaders
  • community educators

What you’ll learn

Classes and topics in the Consensus 101 for Cooperative Groups syllabus include:

1st Class: Mindset – Cooperative culture not competitive culture

  • the tragedy of want and capacity
  • the tragedy of want and capacity

2nd Class: Essential Ingredients for consensus to thrive

  • common values
  • willingness to engage

3rd Class: How to work issues effectively in consensus

  • good responses
  • sequencing

4th Class: Understanding the challenges of diversity in consensus

  • dimensions of diversity
  • limits of diversity

5th Class: Key traps in consensus and their remedies

  • delegate or die
  • right to be heard and responsibility to listen
  • problem solving v. relationship building

Your instructor

The Art of Facilitation for Cooperative Groups and Working Constructively with Conflict in Community instructor image

Laird Schaub

Laird’s specialty is up-tempo inclusive meetings that engage the full range of human input, teaching groups to work creatively with conflict and diversity—all the while being ruthless about capturing as much product as possible. He lived for four decades at Sandhill Farm, an income-sharing rural community that he helped found.
Laird also helped found the Foundation for Intentional Community, where he served as the main administrator for 28 years. In 1987, he created a self-insurance fund for healthcare among income-sharing communities called PEACH (Preservation of Equity Accessible for Community Health) that he ran for 22 years.
In addition to his expertise in community living, he’s parlayed his passion for good process into a consulting business focused on cooperative group dynamics, styled CANBRIDGE (Consensus And Network Building for Resolving Impasse and Developing Group Effectiveness), since 1987.

Read his blog Laird’s Commentary on Community and Consensus

Course schedule

  • 1st Class – September 15, 2022
  • 2nd Class – September 22, 2022
  • 3rd Class – September 29, 2022
  • 4th Class – October 6, 2022
  • 5th Class – October 13, 2022

All Consensus 101 for Cooperative Groups classes are on Thursdays from:

  • Pacific: 12-2pm
  • Mountain: 1-3pm
  • Central: 2-4pm
  • Eastern: 3-5pm


Deborah Kogan

“Laird Schaub is a national treasure in terms of his experience dealing with the different challenges that intentional communities can encounter in decision making and his positive attitude toward helping communities find solutions that work. His emphasis on the importance of both process and product is key. Students in course represented a lot of different types of experience with intentional living and were very engaged. Class discussions were interesting and helpful.”

Emily Abel

“Laird is concise and comprehensive without running over people; he addresses each person’s questions with an appropriate level of thoroughness and invites further discussion via email if the subject is somewhat off-topic for the class topic that day. His handouts are very well organized, and he is all at once funny, compassionate, knowledgeable, and entertaining.”

Tom Smyth

“Laird is an amazing facilitator and an excellent teacher. The skills he shares with his students are incredibly valuable to any community and to society as a whole. I appreciate that Laird grounds his work in a broader social analysis—that we as a society need to get much better at hearing each other, cooperating, and making hard decisions without domination. He has developed a thorough and effective system for guiding groups through a variety of challenging situations. It is thrilling to learn how to practice it. And it pays dividends not only within the community but in other areas of one’s life. I have used skills I learned from Laird at work and in family situations as well. Learning from Laird has been a life changing experience.”

Mary Bennett

“There are few people with the sheer breadth and depth of experience as Laird has. He is sharp, challenging, provocative, insightful.  He deeply cares about promoting cooperative culture in communities and in the world.  And it shows.  I would recommend his classes to anyone and everyone.”

Course fee

  • Early bird discount through August 28, 2022: $199
  • Regular price: $299

Become a member learner

You get several benefits, including 20% off all our online courses, and access to our Member Library with hundreds of videos, guides, policies and templates.

Sign up for membership

Financial support

You can apply for a scholarship if you need financial support to attend one of our courses. We encourage those with low-income and from marginalized groups to apply. We’re committed to ensuring everyone has access to intentional community learning opportunities.

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The elements of an online course

Online learning platform

Once you register, you’ll get access to our learning area that includes:

  • your course schedule with zoom links
  • recommended books
  • a dedicated discussion forum to connect with your classmates
  • class slides and other course materials
  • class video recordings and Zoom chat feed (posted after class ends)

Live interactive sessions

Each week you join a 2-hour live class with the course instructor, where you learn in a group setting with:

  • interactive presentations
  • break out sessions
  • group discussions
  • the opportunity for questions and answers, and personalized support

Classes are recorded if you miss one.

Journey with a cohort

You’ll join participants from around the world how, like you, want to learn how to be better communitarians. Benefits include:

  • opportunities to connect with like-minded people
  • opportunities to share ideas and stories
  • a network of support to carry your community project forward

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2023 Course Waiting List

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