Newsletter Archive

Newsletter 2018/01

Happy not-so-new year! Apologies that this newsletter has taken longer than usual. Among other things that kept us busy, we wanted to finalise our new website and show it to you — we hope you like the result.

In this newsletter we are asking you to participate in a survey and would like to introduce you to two of our keynote speakers at our upcoming event, Agora for the Great Transition.

New Smart CSOs Lab website

Our old website was outdated on many levels and wasn’t compatible with smart phones. So we decided to update both content and design. Here’s the result! We hope you will find it to be a user-friendly way to access and use our updated content. Have a look at our vision & mission and what we do. We have also added an archive containing our past newsletters and have improved the usability of the Re.imagining Activism Toolkit. We hope you will like it!

Survey on leverage points for the Great Transition

It would be very useful if you could take a few minutes and fill out this online survey. With this survey we aim to understand the current thinking among members of the Smart CSOs network about what can be the most effective ways civil society can/should work on systems change. The results of this survey will create a more solid understanding of the strategic thinking in our network. It is parimage of a lever, with a boulder labeled system at one end and on the other end a series of actions that could potentially create change in the system, in order of how likely they are to create change as indicated in the image by their position on the lever. The closer to the center of the seesaw, the less leverage the action has.t of our wider research where we aim to develop new knowledge for how activists, civil society organisations and grant makers can develop concrete strategies that can effectively catalyse and support deeper economic systems change. The results of the survey together with our analysis will be shared with you.

Keynote speakers at the Agora for the Great Transition: Changing the system from an evolutionary biology perspective

A growing number of scholars agree that a step change in our cultural evolution is required for us humans to confront the Earth’s ecological crises and adapt to the Anthropocene that we now live in. We need to learn how cultural evolution happens and how, at this moment in human history, it can happen fast enough to avoid catastrophic consequences. Evolutionary biology can teach us how cultural evolution is a fundamental part of biological evolution, showing patterns very similar to genetic evolution, only much faster.

To help us dig deeper into these questions, we have invited Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein, two evolutionary biologists from the United States, to be our keynote speakers at the upcoming Agora for the Great Transition in Paris. They are currently working to uncover the evolutionary meaning of large-scale patterns in human history and using evolutionary insight in the quest for prototyping a liberating, sustainable anti-fragile governance structure for humanity’s next phase.

In Bret Weinstein’s words: “The enemy that has no name is not a nation, an organization or a religion. It is not a corporation or an industry. It is not an economic system or an ideology. It is a way of living on the earth that evolved, and if we are to change it, we must take evolution from autopilot and into our own hands. We must come together to create the future we wish to inhabit.” He argues that we can and must retool our culture, but we should do so in an evolutionarily aware way. We should do it deliberately and intentionally, otherwise we will lose a tremendous amount. In this deeply insightful conversation with Bret Weinstein, you can enjoy some of his thinking.

Cultural evolution in the Athropocene – further readings

“Humans’ capacity for culture is the key to our success,” argues the anthropologist Robert Boyd in this article. “The idea that there are distinct cultural and biological explanations is a fundamental mistake. There are genetic explanations and cultural explanations all right, but together they make human biology. The evolution of culture is as biological as the evolution of our pelvises. All theories of human behaviour have to explain why we believe what we believe and cultural adaptation — evolving a psychology that drives us to imitate all those around us — is a large part of the answer.”

Joe Brewer, a leading researcher on cultural evolutionary studies, highlights its fundamental importance to our times: “I am going to make a bold claim now — that cultural evolution is the most important body of science for dealing with the global crises arising from this unprecedented time in human history. The study of social behavior, emergent complexity in human systems, how political and economic systems change, the roles of language and technology for shaping human experience, what makes us uniquely human, how landscapes and ecosystems co-evolve across various spans of space and time, and so forth. These are the topics that matter most in the midst of an unprecedented planetary crisis unlike anything our species has seen before.” Read his full article here.