Blog on Theory & Practice

 

The circular economy cannot achieve its aims without deeper system change

Since the Ellen MacArthur Foundation was launched in 2010 with the aim of popularising the idea of a circular economy, the concept has gained momentum from policy makers, businesses and NGOs.

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Unpicking the assumptions underneath our visions and theories of change

At Smart CSOs Lab we have started work on our Pathways to the Great Transition project. Part of this project is a research dialogue — we will engage researchers and practitioners on two guiding questions:

  1. The vision question (‘what’): Is there a puzzle of the new/next system emerging, and if so, what are some of the key elements?
  2. The strategies question (‘how’): Can we identify a number of promising pathways for activists and funders towards the Great Transition?

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Make Europe Great Again

Make Europe Great Again

The more often you repeat something, the more likely it is that the idea sticks. For example, the most active ‘Feel the Bern’ supporters distributed thousands of messages describing Hillary Clinton as a neoliberal evil that had to be avoided at all costs. This seems to have influenced many of the millions of young activists who gathered around Bernie Sanders’ U.S. presidential candidacy.

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Reflections on the Degrowth Conference in Budapest

The signs from the Degrowth Conference have now been removed from the walls of the portentous building of Corvinus University, and the streets of Budapest emptied from the stalls and the babble of the Degrowth-Week.

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It’s the 500th anniversary of Utopia – what’s yours?

Four philosophers concluded that the concept of utopia is outdated. We don't agree. Do you? These days public debate is either rude and provocative or it is being censored and contrary opinions are shut down solely on moral grounds — social media being most affected by both extremes.

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Six hypotheses on the role of civil society actors in the Great Transition

Answering the question as to what contribution civil society can make towards social and economic transformation should involve an analysis of the political and economic framework (external factors) and a differentiated and honest examination of the composition of civil society (internal factors).

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A sign for optimism: How the Great Transition is slowly prospering within and transforming Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands)

Since the early days when we discussed setting up the Smart CSOs Lab, the million-dollar-question has been: Is there any realistic chance that established professional NGOs adopt the key Smart CSOs insights and become effective change agents for the Great Transition? Or are these organisations too much stuck in the system and are our efforts to change them doomed to fail?

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Forget about controlling or shaping transformative change! – An interview with Johannes Krause

CSOs are very good at managing projects: planning, managing, evaluating. But are these competences useful when it comes to the need to support systemic change? Can transformation be defined, planned and controlled just like most projects NGOs usually deal with?

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A personal note: Why I'm not obsessed about banning ads

This little personal note of mine might create some controversy amongst our readers. And if it does, I would welcome a discussion as it might help sharpen our minds on some important questions.

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Project Doughnut: How Tearfund’s advocacy department has started a journey from single issue lobbying towards systemic change

As we have experienced in the Smart CSOs community over the last two years, changing an organisation to work on system change is far from an easy task. Most civil society organisations are deeply entrenched in the current system.

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