Transformations and Kangaroos: More questions than answers
By Suzanne Om
Eugyen Suzanne Om is in the third year of her PhD, and recently had the opportunity to spend some time in Australia as part of her studies. She attended an international Transformations conference, visited Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and carried out research with colleagues at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology. Here she reflects on her experiences.
The Transformations conference 2023, the highlight of my visit, offered many insights into not only our problems but practices and emerging research in the field of transformations. Present during the conference were not only academics from around the world but also regenerative practitioners, community leaders, businesses, indigenous peoples of Australia and many more – a true melting pot.
Of all the questions that were being raised, the following had my attention. What does transformations really mean? What are we really transforming to? Who is the doer of this transformation and for whom? Are we confronting our inherent problems of incoherences, power and politics in conjunction with who we really are and what we really need? I am not sure we have answers but the need to look within, listen deeply to each other, forming meaningful partnerships and gaining a holistic understanding of our problems and finding holistic solutions was at the heart of this conference.
A key highlight for me was the lived experiences of indigenous people and their inherent wisdom. Bringing them into decision making processes, perhaps removing certain actions that inhibit their way of life, their way of knowing and their way of being was in my view, critical. It brought more questions in my mind. How do we integrate indigenous wisdom and the modern world? How do we begin to accept and integrate different ways of knowing into science?
The overall visit made me realise one thing, the power of creating spaces that allow for these questions to emerge, to facilitate dialogues and to provide space to deeply reflect. Sometimes we may need to slow down before we move forward. How do we then engage different perspectives? How do we facilitate conversations and actions that value diversity? What new and different methods are needed? How do we navigate dilemmas?
Perhaps noticing opportunities and intentionally creating synergies to support transformation might be a starting point. Like the kangaroos I saw for the first time, our commitments need to leap faster and further to sustain planet earth and our future. We are at the precipice of change where goals, plans and strategies may need to be guided by wisdom.