Views on Unlearning and Radical Change in the Deep Adaptation Forum
This report aims to address the following research questions:
- What radical collective changes do Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF) participants consider worth pursuing (if any), in view of our global predicament?
- Do DAF participants consider that their involvement in DAF groups has been part of initiating such changes? If so, what may have enabled these changes? If not, what may have prevented them from taking place?
- What are some meaningful personal or collective changes that participants report having experienced, as part of their involvement in DAF or DAF groups? Do some groups appear to bring about deeper changes than others? If so, why?
- Is the idea of unlearning relevant to DAF participants’ experience of involvement in DAF groups? If so, what role does this idea play in how participants articulate their experience of involvement?
- Are there any differences in participants’ views of radical collective change, personal change, and unlearning, depending on their degree of involvement in DAF?
In order to explore these topics, our research team (Wendy Freeman and Dorian Cavé) created and disseminated two surveys in various DAF online spaces:
- The Group Reflections survey (GRS) – disseminated among participants attending the Earth Listening circle, the Business and Finance group, and the Deep Relating circles;
- and the Radical Change survey (RCS) – disseminated among general DAF participants.
The GRS was open to new responses from November 16, 2021, to February 15, 2022; and the RCS, from February 8 to March 22, 2022.
This report presents the combined results from both these surveys.
Some key findings:
- When asked to describe their conception of what radical collective change would be needed in the world in the face of the global predicament, respondents voiced three main types of aspirations. In decreasing order of importance, these were:
- Orienting towards connection, loving kindness and compassion for all beings;
- A transformative shift in worldviews and value systems;
- A radical reshaping of political and economic structures.
- For each of these areas, a majority of respondents considered that their involvement in DAF was helping – if even on a tiny scale – to bring about such forms of radical collective change.
- However, a minority of RCS respondents found this question irrelevant, meaningless, or impossible to address.
- The main factors mentioned by RCS respondents as having enabled forms of radical collective change to take place in (or thanks to) DAF include:
- A caring, supportive community;
- Useful relational modalities practised in the network;
- A community of like-minded others that one can emulate;
- The use of the Deep Adaptation framing and ethos within the network;
- Access to useful information and resources;
- Finding courage and inspiration by interacting with other DAF participants.
- In terms of meaningful personal changes experienced by participants in the three DAF groups investigated here, respondents reported having found in these spaces the occasion to practice new forms of relationality, as well as more self-understanding, and improved emotional states. These changes led them to undertake various new projects and initiatives.
- Respondents from the Earth Listening and Deep Relating circles were keenest to become more deeply involved with DAF as a whole, and to further practice using relational processes. These groups are also those whose activities and purpose correspond most closely to the main type of radical collective change sought by respondents to the RCS questionnaire.
- The instances of unlearning mentioned by RCS respondents fit within three main categories. In decreasing order of importance, these were:
- Ways of knowing, imagining, and evaluating legitimacy (epistemological);
- Ways of being, desiring, hoping, relating, and existing in the world (ontological);
- Ways of doing (methodological).
- RCS respondents who viewed themselves as actively involved in DAF tended to see their own process of unlearning (especially ontological and/or epistemological) as part of a process of facilitating radical collective change through their involvement in DAF. Therefore, a sense of greater personal agency seemed present for respondents for whom an unlearning process was part of creating radical collective change.
I try to bring good people and exciting projects together within the Deep Adaptation Forum, where I am currently part of the core team. I am also studying social learning and radical collective change as part of my PhD at IFLAS, University of Cumbria.
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