Agents of Change: Mind, Cognitive Bias and Decision-Making in a Context of Social and Climate Change (Mind4Change)
In line with the mission of the Contemplative Sustainable Futures Program, the project aims to provide new knowledge on the role of the mind in supporting sustainable change. More specifically, it provides critical analyses on the potential interlinkages between personal and political spheres of transformation to support sustainability outcomes at different scales (individual, collective, organisational, and system levels).
In this context, Mind4Change deals with the following two research questions: i) What mindsets (values, beliefs, paradigms and associated cognitive/emotional and relational capacities) are needed to support sustainable climate action?; and ii) What is needed to enable such mindsets (learning processes, enabling factors, methods)? The project target groups include policy- and decision-makers.
Research partners: Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS), Sweden; Centre for Social Sustainability and Department of Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden; International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE), Sweden, Aberystwyth Behavioural Insights Research Centre, Aberystwyth University, UK. Get to know our project partners here!
Practice partners: UNDP, Awaris, the Inner Green Deal Initiative, The Swedish Parliament; Forward Malmö; Ekskäret Foundation; the Transition Network; the Mindfulness Centre Sweden; the European Network for Community-Led Initiatives on Climate Change and Sustainability (ECOLISE), and others. Get to know our project partners here!
Advisory board: i) Prof. Richard Davidson, world leader in social neuroscience and psychology; Chair of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA; ii) Prof. Kate Rigby, leader in environmental humanities; Director of the Research Centre for Environmental Humanities at Bath Spa University, UK; iii) Dr Markus Molz, Knowledge and Learning Coordinator of the European Network for Community-Led Initiatives on Climate Change and Sustainability (ECOLISE); iv) Prof. Karen O'Brien, internationally recognised expert on climate change and society at University of Oslo, Norway. Get to know our project partners here!
Related projects: Please see TransVision, ActivateChange, Existential Resilience and other projects.
Project outcomes: For an overview of project-related outcomes, please see under Research and Publications. For other project news and announcements, please see below.
"Our project provides new knowledge on the role of the mind in supporting societal change. It involves exploring the role of people's mindsets and inner qualities for negotiating and activating climate action, along with factors that could enable such qualities. Our results help to develop new approaches and learning processes to support agency of change.”
Sustainable climate action requires new mindsets
The UN Climate Change Conferences regularly fail to adequately address climate change. Does this relate to how the conferences are designed and organised? Could developing a different culture of cooperation and communication help to make progress? Which mindsets and associated inner qualities might be conducive in this process? A new study and article by Professor Christine Wamsler and colleagues explores these questions. Please find more information here. The full article can be accessed here. For a related systematic literature review, please see here.
PodCast: The role of mindsets in sustainability
Liane Stephan talks with Christine Wamsler about what role mindsets play in sustainability and climate action. Liane concludes: "If inner qualities, such as intrinsic values, self-awareness, and compassion, are central to sustainable action, this gives us something to work on as individuals, as communities and as organisations. It gives us the agency to act. There's no excuse not to. It doesn't mean that we abandon our search for technological and policy solutions. But such external efforts must be matched with efforts to enhance the way we are, the way we interact with others, and how we relate to the world." Listen to the PodCast or read the interview transcript here.
New collaboration–Exploring the human dimension
New research collaboration for exploring the human dimension of climate action: Mind4Change has established cooperation with the Inner Green Deal Initiative to assess and support personal qualities and methods that can enable sustainable climate action. The initiative seeks to contribute to the behavioural, social and cultural change that is required to realise climate policy initiatives, such as the European Green Deal. Much focus of such policy initiatives has so far been on technology and other external factors. At the same time, inner human dimensions have received less attention, a shortcoming the research cooperation seeks to address. More information here.
Growth that matters
In the context of our Mind4Change project, LUCSUS cooperates with the MindShift project and the associated IDG Initiative. During 2020-2022, two MindShift conferences and one IDG Global Summit took place, bringing together prominent scholars and practitioners, including R. Kegan, O. Scharmer, P. Senge and J. Garvey Berger. During the conferences, C. Wamsler (LUCSUS/Mind4Change) shared her insights on the potential role of personal development and inner transformation to handle the complexities of our time. More information about the conferences & videos can be found here and here.
Challenging social paradigms
To move toward a more sustainable lifestyle, we need to challenge the social, unsustainable paradigms we are living in. Social paradigms are a vital part of society, because they present cultural information that is passed from generation to generation. This information guides our behavior and expectations. In all areas of life — be it politics, research, or practice — social paradigms influence how problems are defined and addressed, including what is considered realistic, legitimate, and effective. It is thus crucial to understand and address social paradigms. Read more here.
The being of change: Why our minds matter
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are intended to provide a foundation for structural change leading to a better world. They are founded on the idea of human dignity, which is also at the heart of another landmark document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But, as Sister Jayanti, European Director of Brahma Kumaris, observes, “Along with the beautiful words, something is missing (...). The discussion of how to create a more sustainable world is also a spiritual one.” Read the inspiring conversation between SIster Jayanti and Professor Christine Wamsler here.
Transformational leadership for sustainability
Are you working on sustainability initiatives? Do you want to explore if, and if yes how, an increased focus on human capacity development and flourishing can support sustainability and the sustainable development goals (SDGs)? If yes, check our recent publications and our ongoing collaborations on this issue, including SKICOM (funded by Karolinska Institutet) and the Global Leadership for Sustainable Development programme (funded by the Templeton Foundation, and organised by the IDG and The Inner Green Deal Initiatives). For other leadership-related research and work, see here.