“Transformations Un-disciplined” – Ioan Fazey

A repost from Ioan Fazey…”The field of transformation is growing. Yet to be successful in shaping the future of our world, those contributing to this field will need to overcome the many constraints imposed by existing knowledge systems. After all, while science and technological advances have brought many benefits, they have also unleashed many new challenges, like climate change, obesity and plastics in the oceans. As Nicholas Maxwell points out in his book on ‘From Knowledge to Wisdom’, such problems have arisen due to an emphasis on producing vast amounts of knowledge about the nature of the universe and our place within it, rather than on learning how to create a wiser world.

Doing more of the same will not be enough. To progress the field of transformation, those involved will therefore need to learn to be disciplined in being un-disciplined. This includes efforts to continuously redefine the field, to avoid reinforcing the status quo, to break the highly compartmentalized systems of knowledge production, while ensuring that transparency and openness prevail, and that group think is avoided. There will be a need to strenuously guard against complacency, continue to push boundaries, and to simultaneously engage in different ways of doing things differently whilst also working from within to disrupt the constraints of the knowledge systems of which we are a part.

Fortunately, there have been many exciting developments over the last year, including the Transformations to Sustainability conference in Dundee, Scotland in 2017, and these look set to continue with the forthcoming Seedbeds conference in South Africa, the leverage points conference in Leuphana in early 2019, and the next Transformations conference in the Global South in Santiago, Chile in October 2019. The SDG Transformations Forum has also been established, and the projects associated with the ISSC T2S programme have matured. There has also been a growth in attention to transformation methodologies, such as through AR+, the Belmont Forum, and publications such as our recent work on ‘ten essentials’. Wider recognition of transformation is also growing, seen through examples like the Royal Scottish Geographic Society’s spring 2018 magazine, which had transformation as its main theme.

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