Jesper Juul

Ashoka Fellow
Denmark,
Fellow Since 2012

Citation

This profile was prepared when Jesper Juul was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Jesper is driving a historical shift to redesign the family. Over a thirty-year career, he has designed tools for family members to transform their internal dynamics to improve quality of life, reduce stress, foster empathy, and build a culture where young people can be leaders in their own lives. His work has been devoted to helping families look to each other—rather than a technique or methodology—to build the most functional relationship, and position young people in a place of respect and competence. Jesper’s technique brings together all members of a family to help forge better interactions with each other, predicated on the notion that the child is competent and able to contribute as an equal partner within a dialogue. His organization, Family-Lab, offers a space where families can discover, invent, and experiment on the best way to interact, moving away from traditional notions of obedience and hierarchy toward equal dignity, personal integrity, and competence. It operates on the premise that children behave according to how families are functioning, and that in order for young people to have power, there must be a release of power. Jesper’s work has changed the paradigm of family care and given families the tools to craft their own healthy relationships.

Jesper’s work brings a set of tools to help parents engage with the changing world in which their children live, and children voice their needs. It moves away from traditional notions of a child as helpless toward a more even footing and mutual developmental progress, “from obedience to responsibility,” giving parents tools to trust their children and meet them with equal dignity. Active in over thirteen countries, Jesper offers workshops for families, dialogue strategies, active learning seminars for parents, group counseling for families, contracts to companies who purchase services for their staff, and larger partnerships to build these tools of collaboration. Jesper is taking this field out of the realm of academia, making cutting edge research and family theory accessible to the masses for use in their own lives, making happier families, and better balanced children.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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