Enacting Global Transformation
A collaborative initiative in partnership with the Theatre of Transformation Academy
Convenor: Dr Rama Mani, Research Associate, Centre for International Studies
Chairperson: Professor Kalypso Nicolaidis, Professor of International Relations, DPIR, University of Oxford
Vice-Chair: Dr Annette Idler, Director of Studies, Changing Character of War Programme, University of Oxford.
Why: The Purpose
This initiative aims to evoke critical rethinking of prevailing paradigms of power underlying today’s intertwined crises of war and governance, and to shape new paradigms of power by fostering creative thinking, humane responses and innovative initiatives among scholars, policy makers, practitioners and the public.
How: The Methodology of Theatre of Transformation
Since December 2013, when it first emerged in Oxford, ‘Theatre of Transformation’ has developed into a catalytic methodology that engages scholars, policy makers, peace and justice practitioners, crisis-affected communities, and the public to address global crises critically and creatively, and to initiate innovative research, policy or civic initiatives to enact global transformation. Through enacted real-life testimonies of transformation, it takes participants through an experiential, interactive four-stage process:
- Witnessing Reality: Re-evaluating the crisis, and engaging personally, through real-life testimonies.
- Awakening Possibility: From facing deadlock to unlocking & envisaging multiple possibilities for change.
- Envisioning Change: Focusing on the optimal vision for change; mapping, designing, internal preparation
- Enacting Transformation: Harnessing collective intelligence, forging creative alliances to impact change.
This methodology was shaped with inputs from numerous distinguished scholars and practitioners in Oxford and around the world, and informed by decades of study and experience of crisis transformation processes within diverse societies, organizations, communities – and individuals. It integrates powerful, tested methodologies of transformation from diverse disciplines. Since 2014, about 100 performances, courses and keynotes on global crises were hosted by international organizations and universities, in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and North America. Several events were hosted at Oxford by CIS, Oxpeace, CCW, ELAC, Ashmolean Museum; Oxford scholars informed this methodology since its inception.
What: The Focus Areas
This initiative focuses on the inter-related crises of security and governance. Its activities seek to provide new perspectives, define new paradigms, and foster humane and creative responses to:
- War & Peace, especially:
- Violent conflicts and mass atrocities
- Transformative justice in post-conflict and transitional countries
- Global migration and Refugee flows
- Governance and the future of:
- Democracy in the face of rising nationalism and extremism
- The United Nations, global security architecture and multilateralism
- Pioneering Leadership, especially by Women to reshape future governance.
The voices, visions and wisdom of students, women and crisis-affected communities are highlighted.
What For: Objectives
- To infuse global security and governance with the human spirit, and evoke more humane, creative, effective and sustainable pathways to enact global transformation, through real-life testimonies and performance art.
- To propose story telling, testimonies and the arts generally, and specifically, the catalytic methodology of Theatre of Transformation, to scholars, policy makers, practitioners and crisis-affected communities to generate transformative research, policies and change initiatives in response to global crises.
- To connect and nurture a transformative epistemic community of scholars, policy makers and practitioners across cultures and disciplines to further develop this methodology and foster change initiatives.
- More broadly to connect scholars and practitioners studying or utilizing the arts in global security crises and peacebuilding efforts across diverse cultures and contexts, and strengthen this under-researched field.
- To model how epistemic communities can activate the power of storytelling, testimonies and the arts to communicate, educate and enact transformative action.
Origins of this Programme
This programme represents the convergence and culmination of successive research projects conducted by the Convenor in her capacity as Research Associate of the Centre for International Studies since January 2009. These research projects included notably, 'Ending Mass Atrocities: The Responsibility to Protect - Cultural Perspectives from the Global South', funded by the Carnegie Cooperation and Arsenault Foundation, and conducted in partnership with the City University of New York's Graduate School. Next, the research project 'Religion, Spirituality and Global Governance' , included an international conference held in partnership with the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) and the Korbel School of International Affairs of the University of Denver. Finally, two research projects on ‘Transformative Justice in Theory and Practice’, and ‘Theatre of Transformation’ as a Policy tool and Teaching methodology’ led to the emergence of the Enacting Global Transformation programme.
The Enacting Global Transformation programme builds specifically on the conclusions of the CIS research project on ending mass atrocities. The final publication, ‘Responsibility to Protect. Cultural Perspectives from the Global South (Routledge, 2011) co-edited with Professor Thomas G Weiss, concluded: '(t)here is need in the praxis of politics and international relations to restore art, aesthetics and creativity to a central place. The bureaucratic stagnation and lack of imagination that bog down problem solving in governments as well as intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations can and should be overcome. Creativity, imagination and innovation in problem solving would be potent tools to rejuvenate governance at all levels.' Furthermore, it noted: ‘There is much that UN officials and governments can learn from the ordinary citizens whose voices are heard in this volume... The UN – its member states and its staff – must act more consistently, creatively, courageously, and humanely.”
The Enacting Global Transformation programme responds to this challenge and fills this gap.
- The Theatre of Transformation
- 'Evolution of Theatre of Transformation' in Kosmos Journal (2016)
- Preview film of 'Dynamics of War and Peace'. Joint Oxford University-Geneva Graduate Institute project
Read more about the Enacting Global Transformation project:
- Summary of the Project
- Origins and Development of the Project
- Watch previous events on YouTube
- Enacting Global Transformation Initiative (PDF)
- Enacting Global Transformation Methodology (PDF)
- Enacting Global Transformation Project Summary (PDF)
- Theatre of Transformation Academy Brochure 2018 (PDF)
The Enacting Global Transformation Initiative, in partnership with the Centre for International Studies, DPIR, University of Oxford and the World Future Council, are proud to present a Zoom seminar series focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on justice around the world. It will draw on expert decision makers, who have combined high-level responsibility with scholarship and direct experience in crisis-affected countries. They will share with us the justice challenges, successes and setbacks, and outstanding gaps in transformative justice in their own countries, personal reflections from their own professional trajectories, and global insights to map the urgent agenda of transformative justice for a post-COVID world, where facing such crises may become the new norm.
- 16:00 BST, 6 May 2020: Sri Lanka (Speaker: Dr Vinya Ariyaratne)
- 16:00 BST, 13 May 2020: Iraq (Speaker: Dr Bakhtiar Amin)
- 16:00 BST, 20 May 2020: Afghanistan (Speaker: Sima Samar)
- 16:00 BST, 27 May 2020: Global (Speaker: Youssef Mahmoud)
All seminars will be available on YouTube after the event.
Thursday 6 July
At Impact Hub Geneva
Tuesday 4 July
A Concert-Conversation With Transformative Artists from Warzones and Eminent Global Experts
At United Nations Geneva Library
Thursday 22 June
Speaking the Silence, Unveiling the Invisible
A Creative Journey of Transformative Justice
At the OTJR 10th Anniversary Workshop, University of Oxford
Wednesday 24 May
Testimonies for Transformation in a World in Turmoil
A Creative Dialogue for Systemic Change between Scholars, Practitioners and Policy Makers
Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford
Thursday 18 May
Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford
Tuesday 2 May
‘War or Peace? Changing the Paradigm!’
An Interactive Encounter to Enact Global Transformation
St Antony's College, University of Oxford