Consensus 101 for Cooperative Groups

5-Week Online Course | Starts September 15th!

Consensus is about far more than getting everyone to agree. It’s a nuanced decision-making process that can work wonders when done correctly, or spell disaster when executed poorly. Intentional communities have honed the method over decades, making it efficient and effective while ensuring everyone has an equal voice. Find out how your group can step into this time-honored way of reaching collective agreement.

Consensus 101 for communities course image

Save $100 (on September course) through 8/28/22!

Heard that consensus meetings can take ages? Suffered through some of these meetings yourself? Welcome to a new kind of consensus — consensus done right.

Learn the essential ingredients for consensus to succeed through this one-of-a-kind training. Whether you are starting a community, living in one, or considering joining a community that uses consensus, this course will guide you through the basics of one of the most popular decision-making methods in intentional communities.

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. Through this course, 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.

Course instructor, Laird Schaub, is the leading expert when it comes to using consensus decision-making within cooperative groups.

Laird will lay 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.

You will leave this course with…

  • An understanding of what will be asked of you as a member of a group that uses consensus
  • The value of working with energy as well as ideas
  • Four key elements needed for consensus to thrive
  • A generic sequence for addressing issues comprehensively and effectively
  • The importance of establishing the right container for each phase of working an issue
  • A network of fellow communitarians practicing consensus in intentional communities around the world

Meet 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.

Laird lived for four decades at Sandhill Farm, an income-sharing rural community that he helped found. He 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.

The Online Course Experience

Live Interactive Sessions

Each week will feature a 2-hour live class with the course instructor so you can learn in a dynamic setting and get your questions answered directly. Get ready for interactive presentations, group discussion, small cohort activities and personalized support. Plus, each week there will be bonus sessions with guest speakers and panelists.

Journey with a Cohort

Join participants from around the world who are embarking on creating community for better living and more connection. You’ll have opportunities to network with like-minds and develop a network of support to carry your community project forward. Welcome to your global community of communities.

Deep Learning

Participants will have access to a private online space to connect with the instructor and other students through a discussion forum. Each week new learning materials will be uploaded to the space, including videos, worksheets and articles. You’ll be able to watch previously recorded sessions and stay on track with your weekly assignments.

Course Syllabus

  • Class 1: Mind Set: The ways in which competitive culture is different from cooperative culture
  • Class 2: Essential ingredients for consensus to thrive
  • Class 3: How to work issues effectively
  • Class 4: Understanding the challenges of diversity
  • Class 5: Key traps and their remedies

Course Schedules

All classes will be recorded and viewable with other class materials for up to 3 weeks after the last class. Live classes will be hosted via Zoom. Please click on the month below to view the respective class dates and times.

January-February 2022

January-February 2022

  • 1/4/22
  • 1/11/22
  • 1/18/22
  • 1/25/22
  • 2/1/22

All classes are on Tuesdays from 8-10am Pacific / 9-11am Mountain / 10am-12pm Central / 11am-1pm Eastern

September-October 2022

September-October 2022

  • 9/15/22
  • 9/22/22
  • 9/29/22
  • 10/6/22
  • 10/13/22

All classes are on Thursdays from 12-2pm Pacific / 1-3pm Mountain / 2-4pm Central / 3-5pm Eastern


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.

– Deborah Kogan

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.

Tom Smyth

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.

Emily Abel

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.

Mary Bennett



Consensus 101 for Cooperative Groups Course

Starting From $199.00

Learn the essential ingredients for consensus to succeed so your group can step into this time-honored way of reaching collective agreement.

Duration: 5 Weeks (2+ hours/week)

Save $100 (on September course) through 8/28/22!


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Need financial support to attend a course?

Apply for a scholarship. Those with low-income and from marginalized groups are encouraged to apply. FIC is committed to ensuring everyone has access to intentional community learning opportunities.