1. The risk with this approach is of course labelling everyone whose thinking is too hard for you to understand as ‘standing in the way of transformation’. This trend was very clear in the workshop where some participants started with staple anti-imperialism rhetoric only to switch their fire to academic disciplines (‘anti-disciplinary’). ‘neoliberal universities married to global capitalism’ and finally to the truth itself (suggesting to replace ‘truth to power’ by ‘power to power’). Such discourses provided foundations for most of the 20th century dictatorship and I see them equally as no more dangerous to sustainability than those ‘imperialists’. Thus, indeed, choose your alliances!

  2. I enjoyed this post. To achieve the innovative solutions that policy makers of all stripes regularly seek, there is a need to bring different ‘knowledge cultures’ to inform solutions. I have referred elsewhere to the role of different kinds of knowledge in community problem-solving, and how bringing different knowledges together across entrenched social divides is a way to spark social innovation (see e.g. Eversole 2015). Yet this kind of ‘spark’ only seldom happens organically – for all the reasons Adrian highlights. Still, I would go further. Not only are ‘dominant actors’ ‘wedded to pathways that..remove the possibility of AND thinking’; look further: ALL actors (dominant or not) have logics and frameworks that influence how they see problems and solutions (and other actors!). Aleh’s observation of the ‘staple..rhetorics’ of those in the workshop resonates with my experiences. I’ve always found loud subaltern voices as disturbing and prone to stereotype others as loud dominant-group voices. And in the process, key knowledges are overlooked, voices of all kinds silenced, and important problems remain unsolved.
    Alliances or partnerships are interesting things – you can’t force anyone to work with you, or even agree with your way of seeing the world, but that doesn’t mean there is no grounds for a relationship. The SDGs being launched this week have the potential to create political space around big-picture shared aspirations on the international stage. If very different actors agree that something is important, this creates a starting point for ‘AND thinking’. Will it be possible to bring different kinds of knowledge together to spark real change? There are examples of where it has been done before. But it does require a willingness to listen and learn from each other – even (especially!) those who see things quite differently.

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