Leverage Points 2019 Conference: Transforming Research into Transformative Research

By Ulli Vilsmaier.

One stream of the Leverage Points 2019 Conference addresses the transformation of research towards transformative research. Under the label of transformative research, various forms of research are currently being tested that pursue both epistemic and transformative goals. Such research should not only produce knowledge that can be applied—following the traditional knowledge transfer logic of academia—but also trigger or even induce transformation.

Many scientists report from exciting experiences when engaging with the situation they research, but face difficulties, for example, when it comes to legitimizing interventions (“this is not your responsibility”); in publishing research results that have been created via action (“this is not a valid analysis”) and when stepping back and asking oneself: “What makes my professional identity? How to deal with my feelings of responsibility, and passion as a scientist? What does this do to my academic practice?” These dilemmas are not new. The question of whether homo politicushas to wait outside the door when entering academia is as old as modern scientific institutions. For sustainability science as a normative science, it is a crucial one to clarify.

The fact that transformative research is on the rise opens up profound questions about roles, tasks, and last but not least, power relations in the social fabric (“Who can speak out loudly? Whose voice is heard, whose knowledge is accepted?” (Spivak 2007)). In doing so, the praxis of research is brought into view and methodological questions appear in a different light. As a consequence, the established legitimation mechanisms and quality criteria of knowledge generation are  challenged, and negotiations of roles and tasks associated with transformative research become increasingly important.

It is obvious that this does not happen without contradictions. Therefore, we should advance both, varied, unconventional and bold experiments that unbound the concept of research in approaching unsustainable situations, and thorough reflection to contribute to the theoretical consolidation of transformative research. It seems promising to do both at once.

The Leverage Points 2019 Conference wants to create a space where encounters between more action oriented and more conceptual minded persons can take place. Where academic researchers, artistic researchers, every-day-life-researchers; spectators, interveners, administrators and inhabitants create dialogue and where dialogue becomes a lever to gain more profound understanding on how to realize transformative research, and ultimately, to transform the world into a more sustainable place. Because “[…] dialogue is the encounter in which the united reflection and action of the dialoguers are addressed to the world which is to be transformed […] (Paulo Freire, 1996 [1970]).


Abstract submission for this conference closes on 30 June — soon! Submit your Abstract here.

For more information please visit: http://leveragepoints2019.leuphana.de

If you have any specific enquiries about abstract submission please contact: Leveragepoints2019@leuphana.de

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