Impossible Leadership for Impossible Times

Join the animal faculty of the Academy of the Impossible, medical historian/agroecologist Dr. Jeanette Herrle and futurist farmer Jesse Hirsh to immerse yourself in leadership issues in a wholly unique manner, both conversational and experiential.

Impossible Leadership for Impossible Times
Leadership is never easy, especially in a time of perpetual crisis

We find ourselves in an era of spiraling, exponential change.

Rapid technological development, compounded by the macro- and micro-upheavals of climate change, demands that leaders know how to build literacy, forge mutual power, and embrace transformation.

What if resilience is less a matter of gritty individuals and more about the capacity to foster growth and adaptation in communities?

Innovation is as much about nurturing the grassroots activity of finding best practices (and learning from the efforts of others via iteration and emulation), as it is an act of top down transformation. How can leaders tap into these currents effectively?

We need new forms of distributed leadership if we are to collectively respond to the existential challenges our society faces.

Join the animal faculty of the Academy of the Impossible, medical historian/agroecologist Dr. Jeanette Herrle and futurist farmer Jesse Hirsh to immerse yourself in these questions in a wholly unique manner, both conversational and experiential.

Tomorrow's leaders will be those who can help others make their way through this increasingly complicated world. Will you be one of them?

Core curriculum

Our 8 week course combines weekly online and outdoor sessions, that revolve around weekly themes:

Weekly Themes

  • Exponential change 1: Technology
  • Trust 1: Risk
  • Systems 1: Automation
  • Power 1: Literacy
  • Exponential change 2: Ecology
  • Trust 2: Authenticity
  • Systems 2: (Social) Communication
  • Power 2: Inclusivity & Participation

Taking the metaview: a weekly online workshop

One of technology’s most striking impacts on us is how it increases the rate of change we experience. In order for leaders to lead, they need to understand the challenges and opportunities available. No need to fear, Jesse Hirsh is here to demystify and draw out the big ideas, as he helps you learn, discuss, and apply the latest knowledge, ideas, and concepts in technology! These interactive sessions are designed to push our concept of leadership while exploring the contexts in which leadership is in most dire need.

Herd sense for people (includes food)

So much of traditional thinking about leadership has roots in outdated and inaccurate theories about social dynamics in animal groups (e.g., alphas). Yet we can gain considerable insight from engaging with nonhuman animals, especially as our daily lives become more insulated and detached from the natural world.

Leon surveys the herd

Explore interpersonal dynamics in a different way, by observing and interacting with the Academy's multispecies herd. Reconnect with the basics of how we relate to others, how we learn, and how we respond to stress. Experience how your presence impacts others and vice versa. Discover the importance of leading with focus and intent, but also with attention to differences that are cultural and individual.

Animals are more likely to see us as we are than how we think we are, and offer feedback accordingly. The Academy’s animal faculty will prompt you to check in with yourself, as only the most skilled leadership coaches can!

Tour des bancs (includes food)

In challenging situations, the ability to tune into one’s setting without being overwhelmed allows leaders to respond effectively.

The tour des bancs is both a salve to emotional inflammation and a path to greater cognitive resilience. Traverse both woods and pasture in a guided, informal exploration of the inner state of one's body (interoception) through meditative walking and sitting in a natural setting. Practice thinking with your whole body.

Incorporating elements of “forest bathing,” mindfulness practice, and movement meditation, walking the circuit of benches placed at various vistas will calm and quiet us, allowing us to engage with the herd on the best possible footing.

It will also sharpen our observational powers. Learn to see, hear, and feel how our climate is changing by spending reflective time in a natural setting over an extended period of time (months) and witnessing how it changes. Learn to appraise the landscape and its inhabitants with an agroecologist’s eye, and appreciate its many interlocking, complex systems.

Take a seat in paradise


Media club

All the delights of a lively, well-run book club discussion, but applied to a much wider range of media, touching on the themes we explore in the core curriculum. Fiction/nonfiction, any medium, any genre! Deepen your understanding and have fun as we explore a different text every week, whether a film, a meme, an article, a social media post, or a podcast episode.

Embodied in nature

A more in-depth exploration of the same experiences offered by the Tour des bancs, but offering the chance to experiment with a wider variety of activities and physical disciplines (e.g., snowshoeing, rowing machine) in a one-on-one format.


We're located just west of Almonte, Ontario, about a 45 minute drive from Ottawa.


  • $399 plus taxes Early bird price before Jan 20th
  • $499 plus taxes after Jan 20th
  • $199 plus taxes online only
  • Future cohorts will be priced higher


Begins February 17th 2022

More info and registration:

academyoftheimpossible at