Power Literacy in #JustSustainabilityTransitions

A chat storm of questions, answers and resources!
Thursday 17 Feb 2022, 15:30 - 17:00
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How do we do speak ‘truth to power’ in just sustainability transitions? In this 1,5-hour online event, you can join others who are also grappling with that question in their research, activism or practice. Without a presentation or a plenary panel discussion in sight, we will together dive into the power questions and dilemmas that are brought up by you, the crowd.

More information about the panel

To tackle the societal challenges of our times, we need to challenge and alter the power structures that are perpetuating current patterns of injustice and unsustainability. On the one hand it is about challenging, altering and replacing those power relations that are impeding just sustainability transitions. On the other hand, it is also about acknowledging how processes of transformative change and innovation can also - willingly or unwillingly - (re)produce problematic power relations. 

But how do we do speak ‘truth to power’ in just sustainability transitions? How can we share our thoughts about and experiences with power, not just at an academic or philosophical level, but also in more political and practical terms?

This question has sparked ongoing discussions across many different movements, organisations and projects. We are a group of action researchers who are interested in understanding and facilitating just sustainability transitions. In that search, we have addressed issues of power across different projects. 

For instance, In the SONNET-project, we have analysed power dynamics in social innovations in energy, experimented with a Transformative Power Lab and developed a so-called Transformative Power Guide to facilitate conversations about power in the context of energy. In the UrbanA project on sustainable just cities, we have analysed drivers of injustice and identified honest conversations about power as one of the main keys to unlocking sustainable and just cities, and proposed power literacy labs as one of many follow up actions. These are just two examples of attempts to understand and address issues of power, which we continue to address and engage in at DRIFT for transitions, at the Vital Cities & Citizens initiative and at ICLEI - local governments for sustainability

In this event, we would like to gather people who are trying to understand power in just sustainability transitions in their research, activism or practice and tackle questions and dilemmas that come up from doing so together. Join us on the 17th february from 15:30 - 17:00 for a chat storm on how to speak “truth to power” in #JustSustainabilityTransitions. 

Inviting YOU to the stage: a chat storm of questions, answers and resources!

Many people working on transformations are grappling with questions about power. So rather than hosting presentations by experts, this event will be driven by the power questions that the participants have. 

During the event, a diverse group of five people working on power issues join us for a 1,5-hour conversation. Questions are crowdsourced: participants are invited to drop their questions directly in the chat. This is followed by a ‘chat storm’ discussion. In this format, inspired by the STEPS centre, participants nominate the questions that they would like to have discussed by the panelists. This way, participants decide what issues are talked about and what direction the conversation takes. Everyone joining the event is also encouraged to share any resources on power issues that have helped or inspired them, from books to movies, images or organisations. The organizers will collect everything and share it with the participants later on. 

Facilitators and panelists include Tessa de Geus, Lucia di Paola, Flor Avelino, Chris Vrettos, Nontokozo Sabic, Nitya Rao, Laura Pereira, Adrian Smith and Molly Walsh (tbc). Visual notes will be taken by Menah Wellen. See more information about the panel here

This event is a collaboration between the Vital Cities & Citizens initiative, DRIFT for transitions, ICLEI - local governments for sustainability, the UrbanA project on sustainable just cities and the SONNET-project on Social Innovation in Energy Transitions. 

More information

Vital Cities and Citizens

With the Erasmus Initiative Vital Cities and Citizens (VCC) Erasmus University Rotterdam wants to help improve the quality of life in cities. In vital cities, the population can achieve their life goals through education, useful work and participation in public life. The vital city is a platform for creativity and diversity, a safe meeting place for different social groups. The researchers involved focus on one of the four sub-themes: 

  • Inclusive Cities and Diversity 
  • Resilient Cities and People 
  • Smart Cities and Communities  
  • Sustainable and Just Cities 

VCC is a collaboration between Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB), Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC) and International Institute of Social Studies (ISS). 

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