Trans4m in Oxford: Contributing to the “Enacting Global Transformation” Initiative

18/24 May 18/24 2017: Enacting Global Transformation is a Collaborative Initiative of the Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford, in Partnership with The Theatre of Transformation Academy. The initiative organized two high levels events, in which Trans4m actively participated.

The first event entitled “Women, War and a New Paradigm of Power” Women War and New Paradigms of Power 18 May University of Oxford.

Trans4m, represented by its co-founder Prof. Alexander Schieffer, was invited as Commentator to the outstanding panel contributions of Zahira Kamal, (Palestine), Dr. Scilla Elworthy (UK), and Dr. Rama Mani (France / India).

The second event focused on “Testimonies for Transformation in a World in Turmoil” Invitation Poster Enacting Global Transformation Conference Rama Mani University of Oxford 24 May 2017.

Here, Alexander Schieffer gave a presentation on the processes that Trans4m applies internationally to enable gifted agents of transformation and their communities to “enact transformation” – with a particular focus on the Trans4m Da Vinci PhD Program – developed as a Process for Holistic Development.

2017 05 24 Oxford Tofta Conference Alexander Schieffer 32017 05 24 Oxford Tofta Conference Alexander Schieffer 12017 05 24 Oxford Tofta Conference Alexander Schieffer 2Taking participants on a journey to a number of Trans4m’s real life cases, from Zimbabwe to Egypt, from India to Slovenia (and back to Switzerland), Schieffer’s presentation followed directly that of Trans4m Senior Fellow Dr. Father Anselm Adodo vom Nigeria. Adodo, in theatrical manner, evoked the power and significance of nature for fully embodied transformation processes to happen. Adodo shared also with the audience his book on Integral Enterprise-in-Community – a result of his participation in Trans4m’s PhD program. In this book, Adodo presents an African alternative to Capitalism, called Communitalism and shared how – together with his enterprise Pax Herbals and the local community – he provides a role model of “enacted transformation”, integral guise, coming from Nigeria.

2017 05 24 Oxford Tofta Conference Anselm Adodo 32017 05 24 Oxford Tofta Conference Anselm Adodo 12017 05 24 Oxford Tofta Conference Anselm Adodo 2

The conference, chaired by Prof. Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford, and catalysed by Dr. Rama Mani, Founder of the Theatre of Transformation Academy, offered an immensely rich exposure to and interaction with highly transformative social innovators and initiatives from around the world – jointly exploring more poignant ways of collaboration and manifesting transformation on the ground.

Schieffer, who also serves on the foundation board of The Theatre of Transformation Academy, was invited to summarize the event. Below are the major findings of this deeply stimulating and highly mobilizing conference:

  • Profound resonance was witnessed among participants about the significant role of art (which includes the theatrical art of storytelling) within the much needed societal and cultural renewal processes
  • While art has been relegated to the “outskirts” of society (serving as entertainment, decoration, consumption), it seems time to bring it actively back into the heart of society
  • Why: It is key to develop “creative imagination”, on an individual and collective level, in order to creatively engage with alternative futures. In that sense, art has a catalytic, paradigm-shifting role to play.
  • The Theatre of Transformation Academy demonstrated how its methodology can help connect people with their own “authentic voice” and with their “inner power” – a process that can also take place on a collective level. Such reconnection to “inner power” and the rediscovery of the “power of the collective” is a vital factor in large scale transformation and consciousness shifts.
  • It has been noted that part of the power of art is that it provides a common language. While that is true to some degree, art is also always a profound reflection of a particular individual and cultural uniqueness. Art is hence not only global, but also profoundly local – and can provide access into creatively understanding and transformatively engaging with local and global realities
  • Thereby, arts and storytelling can also provide a countercultural response to the standardization and productization of our time (which can be seen as ongoing western colonization) – part of which is the dominance of English as “global language”, often (if not mostly) however used in a massively reduced form. The richness of cultural expression however is seen as a vital source for human evolution.
  • Academia has to play a major role in this context – and the creative dialogue between academics from around the world with cultural creatives (many participants beautifully displaying both dimensions within themselves) illustrated the need and potential for such “expansion” of the academic context through the arts/storytelling
  • While academia, in particular the social sciences, is traditionally concerned with understanding, interpreting and critically engaging with past and contemporary realities, the imaginative dimension of the arts adds a “future orientation”and can stimulate active “society building”. In particular “stories” are open-ended, unfolding and invite individual and collective “actor-ship” – and participants agreed that there is a need to develop more participatory processes, actively and imaginatively engaging into addressing burning social issues and bringing forth newly aspired social realties
  • The collective dimension was further deepened by explorations into Collective Intelligence and Wisdom, in particular via the contributions of George Por, and how a transformative Field of Knowledge Creation and Transformative Action can be built
  • This one-day conference has to be seen as part of an open, evolving process – hence, while we are working towards concrete goals, the conversations, in this round, have just begun
  • Key remains that a process is provided to continue and deepen this dialogue, so that it can lead to transformative impact.

All Photos copyright: Susan Taylor