Leverage Points Conference 2019

If you had asked me before February about Leverage Points, I would have answered, after a bit of contemplation, “Well…there is this project at Leuphana University and they work with the idea of Donnella Meadows about different sets of Leverage Points to transform society. And, of course connected to the project there are some faces I know. Some I have seen around on campus with interesting stories or cool research ideas. And other faces seem to be everywhere in the Leuphana bubble.”

Despite working in the same building, there had not been much connection with the Leverage Points group, at least for me. But this was about to change. The 6th to 8th of February, the Leverage Points project opened up a space inviting all scholars interested in sustainability transformation to discuss, what else, Leverage Points. For me the conference was an easy and convenient way to peek into these ideas, meet research fellows from Leuphana University in a somehow transformed central building. For three days, Leverage Points became a buzzword, closely followed by narratives and transformation. While busily chatting, observing, listening and eating, I found my personal answer to what are the Leverage Points needed for a transformation. The first is a renowned feminist argument that keeps coming up in my career as sustainability student and researcher: the personal is political. A question each of us need to ask ourselves is: What is my role in the sustainability transformation?  Who am I as a researcher? And what are my responsibilities to live authentic change? Inner transformation plays an essential role in changing society. Connected to feminist epistemology, my second lever for change is to invite emotions. Throughout the conference, sessions were alive with touching stories. The big auditorium was transformed when African sounds and drums filled the space on the third day, and tears flowed in the final fish-bowl discussion. Not just allowing but inviting emotions to an academic conference confirms my idea that these are key components of human behaviour and therefore key in changing exactly that. The key note by Gogo Dineo Ndlanzi emphasized what I see as a further lever: acknowledging what is traditional and indigenous knowledge and therefore acknowledging a different set of ideas and ways of understanding. Different from our rigorous and rational research thinking we often consider as the only valuable truth. The last lever was the ongoing highlight of the conference, the graphic facilitation and knowledge harvesting. The amazing team managed to capture the moments, as well as collect puzzle-pieces from all the sessions and wrap up the conference before the last session had even finished. I was deeply impressed. Their work rendered visible that there is a need for other forms of knowledge, for the pictures and the stories they tell. How powerful these stories are as levers for change. And how needed they are at academic conferences.

Therefore, after three enriching days and intensive discussions I ended up with four new ways of thinking about transformation. My personal four Leverage Points.

Header Image: Leverage by Nick YoungsonCC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Karoline Poeggel

Karoline’s background is in Environmental Science and Public Management. She studied her Master in Environmental Communication and Management in Uppsala, Sweden at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science. Her research interest is centered around “Good Food” and communication of sustainability. Especially taking new perspectives and exploring alternative ways of communicating science and sustainability. In the Processes for Sustainability Transformations project she combines her interests taking the tenet “Food creates Identity” as basic hypothesis for her research. Learn more about Karoline's PhD project!

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