With the aim of exploring strategies for accelerating social ecological transformations towards regenerative societies, this research focuses on the role of imaginative leadership as an intervention intended to expand the transformative agency of local leaders. The main assumptions are that: a) enhancing leadership towards locally-initiated transformations of social ecological systems is a promising path towards sustainability; b) supporting new ways of thinking and perceiving can contribute to expanding the capacity and transformative agency of local leaders; and, c) the art and culture sector has the potential to support social ecological transformation by expanding spaces of possibility for local leaders.
In this context, the question framing my fieldwork is: How can the arts and culture sector develop and nurture imaginative leadership towards regenerative place-shaping by creating and enhancing spaces of possibility (in imaginaries and in practices)? Sub-questions include: 1. What types of mindsets and imaginaries support local leadership toward social ecological transformations? 2. How can the arts sector support local leaders by creating spaces of possibility? (via via arts-based project design processes that introduce new metaphors, images, stories, and ways of working)
The theoretical framework used to structure this research is derived from three overlapping arenas that unfold in the nexus of sustainable (or regenerative) place-shaping. Place-based transformative agency and leadership in social ecological systems sets the context. The ‘inner dimensions’ of transformation illuminates the dynamics of imaginative leadership. Art in social change highlights key concepts from the literature related to the role of art in place-shaping. Fieldwork will consist of co-creating and experimenting with arts-based transformative design workshops. The objective of the workshops is to elicit self-defined transformative mindsets while participants design events, projects, and strategies (with a focus on the arts and culture sector). The focus will be on developing, analyzing, and improving the workshop with the intention of expanding spaces of possibility in a way that supports local leaders in the process of developing place-shaping initiatives. In both creating and experimenting with the workshop, themes of regenerative/sustainable mindsets, cultural narratives, metaphors and mental models, leadership, and transformative place-shaping will be explored with participants.
Key words: Imaginative Leadership, Art and Culture, Culture Shift, Social Ecological Transformations, Transformative Agency