Newsletter Archive

Newsletter 2019/11

This is our November newsletter—enjoy!


New Smart CSOs publication: Six pathways to the Great Transition

Six pathways to the Great Transition front coverWe have just launched a new publication called Six pathways to the Great Transition: what needs to be done. The paper argues that civil society organisations and funders need new strategies that think about the ecological transition and polarisation together. Our societies are drifting further apart. If current trends towards populist authoritarianism continue, they might set us back many years from tackling the ecological crises, years we don’t have.

The paper proposes a number of action areas and strategies that civil society organisations, activist networks and grantmaking organisations should pursue if they want to make a positive contribution to tackling the ecological crises and to creating a better society in the current political environment. They are based on the evolutionary insights and other findings that are explored in depth in the book Switching off the autopilot: An evolutionary toolbox for the Great Transition.

Sensemaking Lab – what we’re planning for 2020

We have recently launched a call for collaboration for the next phase of the Smart CSOs Lab. It has been great to see that so many from across the world have expressed interest in getting involved. We’ve now worked a bit more on what this could look like and would like to share with you our work in progress.

The Sensemaking Lab will aim to create awareness and strengthen civil society in its capacity to address societal polarisation and tackle climate change in more coherent and effective ways. We also want to plant the seeds for a new, non-dogmatic dialogue aimed at de-polarising public discourse and strengthening societal cohesion as well as identifying and promoting viable and effective strategies and solutions for thriving societies within planetary boundaries. Take a look at our draft project idea.

Article on opendemocracy: “Why we must all reduce our moral certainties”

This week the Transformation section of opendemocracy, curated by activist and writer Michael Edwards, has published an article written by Micha. The article argues that if we want to fight polarisation more effectively, we need to understand that the core of the issue is that the recent surge of authoritarian populism attests to a clash between different moral worldviews that is regularly misinterpreted and misunderstood. “If we could manage to take off our own powerful moral lenses, at least temporarily, we might realize that the ‘evil’ we’ve been seeing isn’t always evil, and proceed accordingly.” Read the full article here.

New research: How did the individualistic and nonconformist psychology of Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies emerge?

New groundbreaking research by evolutionary scientist Joe Henrich and others provides for the first time a robust explanation for why most people living in Western, developed countries are psychologically distinct from the rest of the world. “They tend to be more individualistic and think of themselves as being independent of other people.” So how did people in the West come to be so different?

The new study was published two weeks ago in Science. It suggests that it all began in the Middle Ages, when the Catholic Church began to ban incest and cousin marriage and pushed a way of life that broke up the extended family, paved the way for nuclear families and weakened ties with the larger family, ultimately shaping a more individualistic mindset.

Short video with Daniel Schmachtenberger on why we need to look at the world from multiple perspectives

still from the video depicting a cylinder over the words "Navigating reality: It's all about perspective"This short video featuring futurist and evolutionary philosopher Daniel Schmachtenberger explains succinctly why we need to look at the world from multiple perspectives (or through multiple lenses) if we want to make better sense of the world. The key to really making sense is to learn how the different perspectives relate to each other. How to develop this ability is one of the core questions we want to explore in this new phase at the Smart CSOs Lab.

Podcast on Game B and how we can evolve successfully to live peacefully within planetary boundaries

We recommend this podcast with evolutionary biologist Bret Weinstein that provides a deeper insight into his thinking on how we can navigate towards a system that will allow humanity to thrive within planetary boundaries.

“We are not smart enough [as human beings] to design the system we need, but we are smart enough to navigate there. What we need to do is to take a good guess where the foothill of the system we’re trying to find is and then we need to ascend by prototyping and empirically discovering what the unintended consequences of our best guesses were and where we can improve on things. We must above all avoid any instinct of utopian thinking…”