Leveraging transformations in knowledge systems for a more vibrant and flourishing world

By Ioan Fazey.

Is there anything more important than trying to figure out how we should act, work and play in a world that is rapidly changing, and where contemporary challenges require much more than simply throwing the same kinds of thinking at them that created many of the problems in the first place? I am looking forward to ‘Leverage Points 2019’. The conference will provide exciting opportunities to examine how systemic change can come about and how we think about and frame such processes. In particular, I will be sharing some of the insights coming from my own and my colleagues work on the relationships between transformation and knowledge, and how the way we think about and approach science and learning influences the very nature of the world we create. Some of this thinking has led me to the conclusion that we need nothing less than a second revolution in science (the first having been influenced by the Renaissance and then was highly influential in the Enlightenment’). Such a revolution would require a fundamental change in the systems supporting learning and researching, educational and ‘practice’ oriented institutions and in the ways in which financing can be structured to create an open and collaborative mode of learning about the world and the place of humanity within it. It would also need to shift emphasis towards learning wisdom, not just producing knowledge. This would involve bringing ethics back into the picture, and unleashing the phenomenal potential of new technologies, young minds and the desire for people to do good in the world. Achieving such a vision, just like any systemic change, is clearly challenging and requires leverage to help us get there. I look forward to seeing you at Leverage Points 2019, and to hearing your thoughts on how we can all contribute to achieving a more vibrant and flourishing future.

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


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

What does it take to be a transdisciplinary scholar? Exploring competencies for the ‘transdisciplinary triple jump’

Social-ecological systems Scholars

This is the third post in the series on ‘Transdisciplinary PhD Journeys’.

My name is Jessica Cockburn. I recently completed my PhD in Environmental Science at Rhodes University (Grahamstown, South Africa). I am now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Environmental Learning Research Centre. My PhD research was a transdisciplinary enquiry on stewardship and collaboration in multifunctional landscapes. Taking a transdisciplinary (TD) research approach in my PhD was a means for me to legitimise a personal commitment to conducting research that is relevant and of value to practitioners working on environmental stewardship in South Africa. It was a way for me to do ‘science with society’1.

The first post in this blog series presented the challenge of the ‘transdisciplinary triple jump’, where PhD students have to simultaneously pay attention to scientific rigor and excellence, societal relevance and engagement, and self-respect and care. In this post, I…

View original post 1,553 more words

Leverage Points 2019 Conference: Systems thinking

By David Abson

The international conference “Leverage Points 2019” will be hosted by Leuphana University in the historic Hansestadt Lüneburg from 6-8 February 2019. While the conference has a number of core themes related to sustainability research and transformations, it was in no small part inspired by the seminal work of the great systems thinker Donella Meadows. In particular, Meadows’ impassioned plea for a more systematic approach to intervening in complex systems has been a key inspiration for the conference. Here I will introduce the systems thinking theme of the conference.

At its core sustainability can be thought of as a systems perspective. What it is we are trying to sustain is rarely a discrete single object, but rather a system of dynamically interconnected elements with a particular function or purpose (for example, a single farm, a pristine ecosystem, a cherished institution). In turn, that system is inevitably an element in a larger system. Where, and how, we define our system boundaries; how we describe system elements and the feedbacks between elements; and where we target interventions in complex, multi-dimensional and multi-scalar systems, fundamentally shapes how we conceptualize, and attempt to move towards, sustainability.

Thinking about how we tackle such complexity in order to move toward a more sustainable world can be overwhelming, but it is a challenge humanity needs to face. System thinking – a skill set for better understanding the deep roots of complex behaviors (Arnold and Wade, 2015) – provides anchors and waypoints for navigating pathways towards sustainability. In this conference theme we will explore the challenges, benefits and potential pitfalls of applying systems thinking to sustainability and transformative change across multiple scales and different systems of interest.

This includes, but may not be limited to, issues and topics, such as

  • Systems thinking for transformative change;
  • Scientific integration across disciplinary and system boundaries;
  • Assessing transformational change;
  • Feedbacks and dynamics in complex socio-ecological systems;
  • Bounding systems for sustainability research;
  • Empirical insights on system change;
  • Interacting system interventions;
  • Systems thinking and leverage points;
  • Novelty, system dynamics and sustainability

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


Arnold, Ross D., and Jon P. Wade. “A definition of systems thinking: a systems approach.” Procedia Computer Science 44 (2015): 669-678.


Leverage Points 2019 Conference: Time to Rethink!

By Liz Clarke

From 6-8 February 2019, Leuphana University will host the Leverage Points 2019 international conference on sustainability research and transformation. The conference is inspired by the seminal essay by Donella Meadows on Leverage Points: Places to intervene in a system.

“Rethinking”, one of the conference themes, focuses on knowledge and knowing. In particular, how we transform through the creation, coproduction and use of knowledge, where the “re” signals ongoing process and change.

So rather than simply focusing on gathering ever more and more knowledge, Meadows points to the underlying social paradigms: the assumptions, norms, values and beliefs that shape how we learn and what we know.  Meadows identifies the two deepest leverage points as “2. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system arises” and “1. The power to transcend paradigms”.

As we sit on the knife-edge of change in the Anthropocene facing a complex network of wicked problems, the dominant social paradigms in our society are coming under increasing scrutiny, with reflection on our assumptions, beliefs and values at the heart of this.

What helps us, and what hinders us, in our striving towards a just and sustainable future? And how can science and society come together more effectively to create this change? So how we are developing a new understanding of our relationship to the earth; a willingness to change; a collective learning approach among all participating interests; and openness to new kinds of solutions?

Join us at the Leverage Points 2019 Conference to discuss the following issues and topics and more:

  • Knowledge coproduction and collective learning
  • Modes of research for rethinking (including transdisciplinarity, mode 2 research, interdisciplinarity, transgression etc)
  • Knowledge and understanding in complex systems – notions of self-organisation, emergence, creativity and feedback
  • Narratives and pathways for transformation
  • Knowledge governance and knowledge networks for transformation
  • Processes of transformation, such as amplification, scaling, or diffusion
  • Different ways of understanding and implementing transformation, such as context-specific or indigenous and local perspectives


We welcome your contributions to these important topics: 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

Feel free to distribute the conference flyer, available as a PDF here.

Leverage Points 2019: RESTRUCTURE

By Jens Newig

From 6-8 February 2019, Leuphana University will host the Leverage Points 2019 international conference on sustainability research and transformation.

Inspired by the work of Donella Meadows’ “Leverage Points: Places to intervene in a system”, this conference will explore the deep leverage points that can lead to sustainability transformations, asking: how do we transform ourselves, our science, our institutions, our interventions and our societies for a better future?

One conference theme will be on Re-structuring institutions for sustainability transformation.

Institutional arrangements are deeply rooted structures that shape the rules of a system and, thus, have the power to advance systems change. Social structures, embedded in formal institutions (rules, regulations, and policies) enable, constrain, and guide human action, and thus shape sustainability transformations.

In this theme, we will explore the potentials of systemic, institutional change as a leverage point for sustainability transformation. Existing research often lacks a systems-oriented view, and pays only scare attention to processes of institutional failure and decline, and even less to potentially productive functions of such phenomena.

In particular, we invite contributions that address this gap and that (1) employ a perspective that goes beyond single institutions but take a complex-systems oriented lens; and (2) that pay close attention to phenomena of failure and decline of institutions and the extent to which these can serve as leverage points for sustainability.

This includes, but may not be limited to, issues and topics, such as

The role of institutions for sustainability transformations from various theoretical perspectives;
Crises as triggers for adaptation towards sustainability;
Deliberate dismantling of unsustainable institutions;
The active management of declining institutions;
The identification and unlocking of path-dependency and system traps;
Analysis of institutional coherence, redundancies, and lacunae;
Perspectives on the interplay and integration between different institutions;
Democratic implications of transformation processes;
Methodological challenges in analyzing and understanding institutional change.
The conference is premised on three principles: 1) The importance of searching for places where interventions can lead to transformative change; 2) Open inquiry, exchange and co-learning across multiple theoretical, methodological and empirical research approaches; and 3) The need for reflection on modes of research and processes in sustainability research.

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

Feel free to distribute the conference flyer, available as a PDF here.

Leverage Points 2019: RECONNECT

By Joern Fischer

From 6-8 February 2019, Leuphana University will host Leverage Points 2019. The conference has several key themes inviting us to look at leverage points where interventions might lead to transformative change towards sustainability. Here, I introduce one of these themes: re-connecting people with the natural environment.

Why did we choose to focus on re-connecting people with the environment as a potential leverage point for sustainability? Of course, there are many areas in which changes are required, including many areas in which “deep” changes are needed. But for me, re-connecting people with the natural environment has always stood out as an intuitively obvious area that cannot be ignored.

So much about modern lifestyles is hyper-separated from our immediate natural environment — in biophysical terms, cognitive terms, emotional terms, spiritual terms … and probably in a range of other ways, too. As a result, calls have become more and more prominent to address this gap between people and the environment. Leading scholars like Carl Folke and others have called for re-connecting to the biosphere, Kevin Gaston and others have warned of an extinction of experience and have thought of ways to consider the potential health benefits of greater exposure to nature. Far from the realm of science, Pope Francis has spoken of our need to care more deeply for the natural environment, and oneness with all that is has long been experienced as truth by many spiritual leaders (more on this at the bottom of this blog post…).

At Leverage Points 2019, we aim to take serious such calls for re-connecting with the natural environment. How do different disciplines approach this topic? How can we think about re-connecting with the natural environment? At which spatial scales should we connect? And how will this work in practice?

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

Feel free to distribute the conference flyer, available as a PDF here.

… Oh, and the following video is to check if you’re still awake. Since I talked about oneness with everything … it reminded me of this ….


(Not) just another conference? Or what excites me to be part of #leverage2019

By Daniel J. Lang

Looking at my mailbox crowded with invitations to conferences, workshops and symposia that pile up every day, it is hard to escape the notion that we drown in distractions. Hence, it is worth asking how we can focus our time and resources to bring us closer to our goal of urgently needed fundamental sustainability transformations? Is another conference the right way to do so?

We see seemingly little change to many unsustainable trajectories in human-environment systems, despite a multitude of research and policy activities addressing these challenges. For many sustainability focused researchers and practitioners this can be  deeply frustrating. To counter this frustration, about four years ago some colleagues and I re-discovered the metaphor of “Leverage Points to intervene in systems” by Donella Meadows (Meadows, 1999). Inspired by this work we have embarked on a research journey to investigate these “places in complex systems where a small shift may lead to fundamental changes in the system as a whole“ (Abson et al, 2017). Learning from many ups and downs during this journey, our initial sense has solidified that the notion of “Leverage Points” can serve as a boundary concept to help connect often disconnected scientific as well real world endeavors implicitly or explicitly aiming to contribute to sustainability transformations. Such an approach focuses on more fundamental, but often neglected, intervention points and system interventions; and in so doing enables research, discourse and action that have the potential to make a real difference.

This inspiration and experience has motivated us to launch a conference that seeks to create new spaces to explore together, with a broad community of scholars from different backgrounds how the Leverage Points metaphor can help to “transform ourselves, our science, our institutions, our interventions and our societies for a better future”. In doing so, we want to offer and connect different formats, including presentations; discussions; interactive plenary sessions; case based mutual learning sessions and joint activities to explore leverage points, sustainability and transformational change.  The conference will focus on five main themes (i.e. re-structuring institutions, re-connecting people, re-thinking knowledge, systems thinking, and transformative research practice). Each of these themes has its own community and in this conference, we will seek inspiration by drawing connections between these diverse communities. Similarly, the  notion of leverage points itself can function as a metaphor, a research approach, a mindset or a concrete research object here to we seek inspiration from multiple perspectives (including from our inspirational key note speakers) in order to enrich and encourage science and practice that helps facilitate the transformative change we wish to see in the world.

With this wide yet focused spirit I am convinced that #leverage2019 (http://leveragepoints2019.leuphana.de/) will not be just another conference but a vibrant, inspiring and meaningful experience that will trigger new lines of thinking and change in science and society, as well as the interaction between these two.


I hope very much to see you 6-8 February 2109 in Lüneburg, Germany.

Daniel Lang


The Call for Abstracts is open until 30 June 2018.

You can register for the conference here.

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

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

Feel free to distribute the conference flyer, available as a PDF here.



Abson, D.J., Fischer, J., Leventon, J., Newig, J., Schomerus, T., Vilsmaier, U., von Wehrden, H., Abernethy, P., Ives, C.D., Jager, N.W. and Lang, D.J., 2017. Leverage points for sustainability transformation. Ambio, 46(1), pp.30-39.

Meadows, D., 1999. Leverage points. Places to Intervene in a System.


Lieblingsplätze – poetische Orte in der Natur

By Werner Henkel (with a foreword by Maraja Riechers)

Favourite places – poetic places in nature

The text below is written by the artist Werner Henkel (NaturArte) and connected to the transdisciplinary case study of Oldenburg. It is his conclusion to an inspiring social landart workshop from August 2017 to February 2018. Werner and I had a great collaboration and my scientific conclusion on emotional responses to landscape changes is currently in the making. Enjoy! (only available in German)

Am 26. und 27.8.2017 traf sich eine Gruppe von Anwohnern der Region Oldenburg im Zentrum Prinzhöfte, um sich über ihre Lieblingsplätze in der Wildeshauser Geest auszutauschen und auf eine künstlerische Entdeckungsreise über deren persönliche Bedeutung und Gestaltung zu gehen.

In einem ersten Schritt wurden die Plätze anhand von Fotos vorgestellt und es entstand ein intensiver Austausch. Zur Einstimmung in die künstlerische Arbeit wurden die Farben und Formen der Naturmaterialien erforscht. An ausgesuchten Plätzen wurde die Gestaltung in der Natur exemplarisch erprobt. Das Wochenende ermöglichte den TeilnehmerInnen verschiedene künstlerische Erfahrung als Rüstzeug, um im weiteren Verlauf  an Ihren Lieblingsplätzen individuell gestalterisch aktiv zu werden.

Der Workshop Lieblingsplätze setzte an der persönlichen Verbundenheit mit Natur und Landschaft an. Lieblingsplätze sind Orte, um diese grundlegenden Erfahrungen zu erleben und ihnen nachzuspüren.

Durch das intensiven Einlassen auf die Plätze und deren ästhetischen Erforschung wurde das Einmalige und Besondere der Orte, ihre Qualität und Atmosphäre deutlich. Es kristallisierten sich persönliche Themen und Motive heraus, die zunächst in den Plätzen verborgen sind. Diesen wurde mit ästhetischen Mitteln, wie Objekten, Installationen aber auch Fotografie und Text, ein künstlerischer Ausdruck, eine künstlerische Gestalt gegeben. So verstanden ist Kunst ist immer auch ein Erkenntnisprozess, ein bildnerisches Nachdenken (Die kursiven Textteile sind Zitate der TeilnehmerInnen).

  1. hat einen Buchenbestand gewählt. Sie hat dort ein selbstgenähtes großes und knallrotes Herz niedergelegt. Ein schönes Bild für die lebendige Verbundenheit – so ihr Name für den Platz – zur Natur, die entsteht wenn wir unser Herz öffnen. Sie kennt ihn schon seit seit Jahren, entdeckte ihn zuerst als Abenteuerspielplatz für die Kinder, …, für Sonntagsausflüge. Später dann oft alleine besucht, zur Besinnung, Kontemplation, Muse, einfach ein Ort den ich gerne aufgesucht habe und auch heute noch aufsuche. Strahlt erhabene Ruhe aus durch die alten hohen Buchen, ist gleichzeitig licht und zart durch die Großzügigkeit. Lässt mich ruhig werden, durchatmen, Pause machen! Hier wird deutlich, das Eintauchen in den Naturraum ist ein Teilhaben an den schöpferischen Prozessen des Lebendigen. Was wiederum unsere eigenen schöpferische Kräfte belebt. Die künstlerische Gestaltung des Platzes mit Naturmaterialien oder mit besonderen eigenen Dingen erfüllte mich mit einem Gefühl tiefer Befriedigung, Sinnhaftigkeit und Freude. Sinnhaftigkeit und Freude zu erfahren ist ein Glücks-Moment den wir geschenkt bekommen.
  2. baut ein „goldenen Käfig“ und nannte Ihn home. Zu Ihrem Platz sagt sie: Der Platz hat eine befreiende Weite, Tiere kommen dich besuchen und er ist doch auch versteckt genug, um sich sicher und geborgen zu fühlen. Leider musste ich von diesem Platz und meinem Zuhause wegziehen. Seitdem fehlt mir die Weite, Freiheit und Geborgenheit, die einem bekannte Flächen geben kann. Wenn ich jetzt zu den Flächen zurückkehre, bin ich ihnen fremd und komme daher nur langsam dort zur Ruhe. Freiheit, Weite, Unabhängigkeit einerseits und Geborgenheit, Vertrautheit müssen in Balance sein, damit wir uns zuhause fühlen können im Leben, damit es home wird. Das korrespondiert mit Ihrem Käfig-Werk. Der steht im offenen Raum der Wiesenfläche, und changiert ambivalent zwischen Schutzraum und Eingeschlossen-sein. Was zudem noch anklingt ist Ihre wissenschaftliche Forschungstätigkeit über Natur, in der sie zwar gedanklich in der Natur ist, körperlich, sinnlich jedoch völlig außerhalb. Natur wird zu Gedanken-Käfig, der einen gefangen nimmt, aber vom unmittelbarem sinnliche Kontakt mit der Natur trennt.
  3. spielt mit dem Zeit, dem ständigen zyklischen Wandel. Er fotografierte letzten Sommer, die Bilder zeigen Natur im Grün und voller Blüte. Diese Fotos platziert er im winterlichen Naturraum genau an den Aufnahmeorten. Mitten im tristen und nassen Winter stellte ich ein Bild blühender Tulpen in’s triste graue Tulpenbeet. Dann stellte ich blühende Lungenkräuter in ein Beet in dem unter viel Humus diese Pflanzen schlummerten. So erleben wir durch Fotos und reale Natur zwei Zeitzustände eines Ortes. Das bringt uns den ständigen Wandel zu Bewusstsein. Die Stoffumwandlung ist die Voraussetzung für neues Leben im Folgejahr. Nichtsdestotrotz kann so ein langer Winter auch die Seele trübe machen, da helfen Bilder aus den fröhlicheren Jahreszeiten. Aber wie werden wir reagieren auf Winter-Garten-Bilder mitten im Sommer? Das ist der nächste Schritt: der Schönheit des Sommers den Tod des Winters entgegenzusetzen…Der Sommer überwintert, der Winter keimt im Sommer. So kommen wir in Berührung mit dem Wunder des Bleibenden im ständigen Wandel
  4. setzt sich ganz konkret körperlich und biographisch mit einem Baum in Beziehung. Sieht Risse in der Rinde in Bezug zu ihren Hautfalten, schreibt eine Art Baumtagebuch, legt im Wurzelreich verborgenes frei. Im Sommer, im vollen Laub bildet sich ein fast geschlossener Raum unter ihrem Baum. Nach dem Laubfall wir es ein durchlässiger beschirmter Raum. Sie legt Spiegel ins Erdreich unter den Baum, in dem sich das Himmels-Geäst spiegelt. Mein Schirm mit Wurzeln nennt sie Ihren Platz, an dem ein konkreter Baum zum Spiegel des Lebensbaumes wird. Und es klingt der Weltenbaum der indische Mythologie an, der Kopf steht und so im Himmel, im Geistig wurzelt und dessen Früchte unsere irdisches Leben sind. Ein Bild, dass besagt, das unsere Welt hier ein Spiegel der geistigen Welt ist. Aber auch der nordische Schöpfungsmythos wird hier thematisiert, nach dem die Bäume unsere Ahnen sind. Das erste Menschenpaar wurden vom Geschlecht der Asen aus einer Esche /Ask und einer Ulme/ Embla erschaffen. Der Schirm mit Wurzeln beinhaltet neben dem persönlichen, biographischen das sehr alte Weltenbaum-Bild der Verbindung von Himmel und Erde, unserem Behütet-sein unterm Himmelszelt und dem Verwurzelt-sein im Irdischen.
  5. spricht einen Platz an einem alten Hunte-Arm an. Unter altem, grünendem Baumbestand und im Sommer völlig mit Entengrütze bedeckt, ist es eine Grüne Kraftquelle. Er strahlt eine unheimliche Ruhe aus und man kann hier sehr gut entspannen. Außerdem entdeckt man bei jedem Besuch wieder etwas Neues. Er baut eine Art Zelt, einen geschützten Raum aus grünen Bambusstangen auf, der aber dennoch offen und durchlässig ist. Und in seiner architektonisch formalen Strenge schafft es eine schöne Spannung zu umliegenden üppig-grünen Naturraum. In dem Werk klingen Begriffe wie Mönchsklause und Eremiten-Behausung an. So schafft er einen meditativen Ort der Stille. Natur wird zu einer Kraftquelle, die T. immer wieder aufsucht, um neue Energie zu tanken. Es ist auch einen visuelle Stille, in der man im Alleinsein in der Natur die „Grüne Sprache“ lernt, wie R.Ausländer es so poetisch formuliert. Die Erfahrungen an seinem Platz haben ihm einen neuen Blickwinkel auf das Leben gegeben.
  6. gestaltete ihre Hall of Fame am Hunte-Ufer, indem sie drei gestaltete 3 Stelen mit Texten aufstellte.

Sie ehrt damit drei Menschen, die alle auf ihre Art zu meinem biophilen Zugang zur Natur beigetragen haben. Und sie wirft die Frage auf: Wohin man gerne zurückkehren würde? Das kleine Modell einer Laubhütte steht über dem Satz: Geborgenheit ist nicht Landschaft. Geborgenheit schafft auch das Bewusstsein darüber, dass wir eingebunden sind die die Natur, worauf die Biophilie verweist. Biophilie steht für die Auffassung, dass wir entwicklungsgeschichtlich eine uns innewohnende Verbundenheit zu allem Natürlichen haben, eine Liebe um Lebendigen. Wir sind selbst ein Teil der Biodiversität dieser Erde. R.M. Rilke drückt es sinnlicher aus. „Weltinnenraum“ ist  nicht nur die räumlich um uns liegende Landschaft, sondern ebenso die innerlich gefühlte Bedeutung und Wertschätzung. Diese drückt sich auch in geschichtliche Dimension des Ortes aus: dort, wo mein Platz ist, ist schon vor zehntausenden von Jahren bevölkert gewesen, auch das berührt mich. So erscheint darin auch eine Haltung der angemessenen Bescheidenheit und Demut der Natur gegenüber.

Ein schmaler Trampelpfad auf einem Baum bestandenem kleinen Wall schlängelt sich durch ein verwunschenes Waldstück. Es ist der Pfad des Oberon, wie U. ihren Platz nennt. Nicht nur für sie ist es ein verzauberter Ort, an dem eine Tiefen-Dimension der Natur spürbar wird. Sie stellt dort einen Bogen von geraden Hölzern auf, die gleichsam aus dem Boden wachsen und wieder im Erdreich verschwinden. Es ist dieses Bild des Auftauchens, des in Erscheinung-tretens und wieder Verschwindens einer magisch-mythischen Welt, die den Bogen schlägt zum Elfenkönig Oberon. Ihr Werk wirkt im Wald vergänglich, fragil und unscheinbar. Dieser ephemere Charakter betont die Flüchtigkeit des Zaubers. Im verzauberte Wald in W. Shakespeares Sommernachtstraum treiben die Elfen ein Liebes-Verwirr-Spiel mit den Menschen zur Zeit der Sommersonnenwende. All das verweist auf ein In-Beziehung-sein aller Erscheinungsformen und Dimensionen des Lebens. Und auf die Tiefenökologie, die auf ein neues Bewusstsein in der Mensch-Naturbeziehung zielt.

Im Austausch über den Wert solcher Lieblings-Plätze in der Natur wurde deutlich, solche Orte sind Inseln im stark landwirtschaftlich genutzten Landschaftsraum der Region. Inseln der Selbstbesinnung. Sie sind Momente des Zur-Besinnung-Kommens, des Innehalten und Ausdruck einer lebendigen Verbundenheit mit der Landschaft. Sie zeigen den wertschätzenden Blick, frei vom Nutzen-Aspekt, sind Kraftorte zum Auftanken und oft ist es gerade das Unspektakuläre was diese Qualität erzeugt.

Es ist kein Zufall welchen Plätze uns ansprechen, sondern ein in Resonanz-Gehen der äußeren Natur mit unserer inneren Natur. So sind sie immer auch Spiegel des Biographischen und es zeigt sich hier eine sehr persönliche, intime Ebene der Naturbeziehung. Über solche Plätze entsteht eine emotionale Verwurzelung mit der Landschaft, die über das rein Persönliche hinausgeht, denn sie zeigen exemplarisch, dass die menschliche Existenz nur als Teil des Existenz der Natur erlebt und gedacht werden kann.

Und sie sind Inspirationsquellen für eine bewusste und nachhaltige Nutzung der Ressourcen der Natur der Region. Darum ist die persönliche Beziehung in der Diskussion um Nachhaltige Entwicklung so von Bedeutung. Nachhaltiges Handeln entsteht nicht allein aus dem Wissen über … und Faktenkenntnis. Nur die Verknüpfung mit der emotionalen Verbundenheit zur natürlichen Umwelt führt zu einer wertschätzenden Haltung. Die emotionale Beziehung ist Grundlage für Umwelt-Bewusstsein und Verantwortlichkeit im eigenen Handeln. Das Wissen über und die Beziehung zu, Verstand und Herz zusammen setzten den Impuls für nachhaltiges und ressourcenschonendes Handeln. Wir schützen und bewahren nur dass, was wir lieben.

Das künstlerische Vorhaben: Lieblingsplätze ist Teil des Projektes Bio-Diversitätskorridor. Einer Initiative von „artecology_network“, dem Landkreis Oldenburg  und Leuphana Universität Lüneburg. Das Projekt zielt auf eine künstlerische und wissenschaftliche Auseinandersetzung mit Landnutzung und Naturschutz im Landkreis Oldenburg und  initiiert neue Denkanstöße für Nachhaltigkeit.

Inspiring keynote speakers at Leverage Points 2019

by Lotte Lutz

The planning and organizing of the conference is gaining momentum while the deadline for the call for abstracts is coming closer. Meanwhile, we are very happy to present the keynote speakers of Leverage Points 2019 to you: inspiring personalities who are dedicated to study and facilitate transformational change.


Karen O’Brien is a professor in the Department of sociology and human geography at the University of Oslo, Norway. Karen’s current research focuses on the relationships between climate change adaptation and transformations to sustainability. The AdaptationCONNECTS project explores the conditions, approaches and paradigms that support transformations, including the role of creativity, collaboration, empowerment, and narratives. She is co-founder of cCHANGE.no, an initiative that supports transformation in a changing climate.


Ray Ison was appointed Professor of Systems at the Open University in 1994, his research and scholarship spans the biophysical and social and is primarily interdisciplinary and collaborative. Ray has had periods as head of the former Systems Department, Director of the Environmental Decision Making Program, and is currently involved in managing and presenting the post-graduate program in Systems Thinking in Practice (STiP). Ray also contributes to the activities of the Applied Systems Thinking in Practice (ASTiP) Group, including leading an initiative to create a LEVEL 7 (Masters) Apprenticeship for the Systems Thinking Practitioner based on the UK Apprenticeship Levy and undertaking international research.


Gogo Dineo Ndlanzi is celebrated as a sangoma, spiritual teacher, life coach and and professional African storyteller, poet, writer, dancer and facilitator. Gogo is a facilitator of change. She is passionate about enlightening people to view life from a different perspective through bringing about changes in outlook to allow for holistic healing. Gogo Dineo brings creativity to facilitate safe learning spaces and processes of social change. She is also a licensed Heal Your Life Teacher and certified Organisational Systems Coach.She is a well-known media and radio contributor. She has consulted with companies such as Nedbank, Standard Bank, FNB, Impala Mines, Anglo Platinum, the Gordon Institute of Business Science, Gautrain and Activate Architecture, amongst others.


Niki Frantzeskaki holds a PhD on ‘Dynamics of Sustainability transitions’ from Delft University of Technology and is an Associate Professor on Sustainability Transitions’ Governance at DRIFT, Faculty of Social Sciences at Erasmus University Rotterdam. She is working at DRIFT since 2010 where she researches contemporary sustainability transitions and their governance across Europe, USA, Brazil and in developing countries like Vanuatu, and Ghana. Niki is coordinating research on environmental governance, and urban sustainability transitions. She contributed as a lead expert in international dialogues and projects, being the lead expert in the European Union and Brazil platform of science exchange and co-production under the theme of innovating cities with nature-based solutions.

Ioan Fazey

Ioan Fazey is Director of the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience at the University of Dundee and Professor in Social Dimensions of Environmental Change. He is an interdisciplinary researcher with current research focusing on resilience, adaptation, what it means to achieve equitable and sustainable societal transformations and the practices that can help facilitate such changes. Ioan‘s work has included international projects on diverse issues relating to ecosystem services, biodiversity, agricultural systems, social change, vulnerability and climate change. Professor Fazey is council steward on the SDG Transformation Forum and trustee of the University of the Third Horizon, of which both seek to build capacity for and support work that contributes to transformative change.

The Call for Abstracts is open until 30 June 2018.

You can register for the conference here.

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

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

Feel free to distribute the conference flyer, available as a PDF here.