Headliner: Transformative Partnerships: What is Missing for Systems Change?

Speakers: Diana Lopez and Arwen Bailey, Fern Wickson, Carlos Álvarez Pereira
CGIAR Community of Practice on Gender-Transformative Research Methodologies: Combining Feminist Approaches with CoP Praxis to Foster Transformation
Diana Erika Lopez Ramirez, Arwen BaileyAdopting a gender-transformative agenda that embraces a feminist ethos can be challenging in certain organizational cultures, especially those whose primary focus is not necessarily the attainment of gender equality. We reflect on the development of a Community of Practice for Gender-Transformative Research Methodologies (GTRM-CoP) within CGIAR, an influential agricultural research-for-development organization. Gender (and those ‘doing gender’) in CGIAR were not originally core to the work and mandate of the organization. Therefore, the recent identification of gender and social inclusion as a key impact area in CGIAR biophysical work is a challenge. While awareness of the complex intersections between gender and agrifood systems has risen, budgets and capacity have not kept pace with the new needs. Gender researchers often work in isolation, lack recognition and struggle to mainstream their insights into the core workings of CGIAR. Taking a social learning ‘design turn’ can provide a space for transformative, feminist ‘reflecting and doing’ and for building commitment and capacity for gender-transformative research. We introduce CoPs as spaces for social learning that strengthen individual and collective empowerment. This is followed by an overview of attempts to mainstream gender in CGIAR, to contextualize the case study and locate it within efforts to advance a gender-transformative agenda in the organization. The ‘reflecting and doing’ process of the GTRM-CoP is examined according to a set of design considerations adopted as part of a social learning praxis to create the conditions for action-oriented learning. This process is informed by feminist thinking and critical insights generated from recent debates about the role of the researcher vis-à-vis neo-colonialism. We conclude with critical reflections about limitations and ambitions of the GTRM-CoP, and its potential for fostering broader gender transformations.

Do you want to dannelse? Transforming higher education programs for sustainability competences
Fern Wickson

Sustainability transformations require not just new knowledge, but new ways of being, relating to, and acting in the world. This creates exciting new challenges and opportunities for Higher Education. Universities have traditionally approached education with a focus on the transmission of information and the building of capacities to create new knowledge. In recent years, they have also begun placing weight on developing “21st century skills”, including communication, collaboration, and digital literacy. However, current frameworks defining competences needed to advance sustainability (e.g., Bianchi et al. 2022; Redman & Wiek 2021; Jordan et al. 2021; UNESCO 2017) are increasingly emphasising factors that go beyond knowledge and inter-personal skills to include intra-personal competences such as self-awareness, self-reflection, and the cultivation of values that support sustainability transitions, such as empathy, equity, appreciation and perseverance. This extended breadth of sustainability competences requires moving beyond what, in Norwegian, is referred to as utdannelse (education), to also working with dannelse (directly translated as formation, but also meaning personal and cultural growth and maturation). Many higher education institutes and programs are already struggling to cross the traditional disciplinary silos and offer the kind of systems thinking and integrative problem solving that sustainability competences require. Therefore, moving through and beyond this to also incorporate work on sustainability values and attitudes, together with abilities for self-reflection and self-regulation, can feel like difficult moves to perform indeed. In this presentation, I will share my experience trying to choreograph the teaching of transformative sustainability competences in higher education through a new international executive-level master’s program in Ocean Leadership. I will share early insights from working on this transdisciplinary program for marine and maritime professionals and invite the audience to share their own experiences dancing with both utdannelse and dannelse in higher education.