Kay, David

Initially trained as an economist, I work as a senior outreach faculty member at Cornell University. I am affiliated with the Community and Regional Development Institute in Cornell’s Department of Global Development. I am interested primarily in community decision making and governance; the institutional, policy and personal changes needed for an energy transition in the US; and the responses of individuals and communities to the increasing risks posed by climate change.

A relational turn for sustainability science? Relational thinking, leverage points and transformations


In sustainability science, revising the paradigms that separate humans from nature is considered a powerful ‘leverage point’ in pursuit of transformations. The coupled social-ecological and human-environment systems perspectives at the heart of sustainability science have, in many ways, enhanced recognition across academic, civil, policy and business spheres that humans and nature are inextricably connected. However, in retaining substantialist assumptions where ‘social’ and ‘ecological’ refer to different classes of entity that interact, coupled systems perspectives insist on the inextricability of humans and nature in theory, while requiring researchers to extricate them in practice – thus inadvertently reproducing the separation they seek to repair. Consequently, sustainability researchers are increasingly drawing on scholarship from the ‘relational turn’ in the humanities and the social sciences to propose a paradigm shift for sustainability science: away from focusing on interactions between entities, towards emphasizing continually unfolding processes and relations. Yet there remains widespread uncertainty about the origins, promises and challenges of using relational approaches. In this paper, we identify four themes in relational thinking – continually unfolding processes; embodied experience; reconstructing language and concepts; and ethics/practices of care – and highlight the ways in which these are being drawn on in sustainability science. We conclude by critically discussing how relational approaches might contribute to (i) a paradigm shift in sustainability science, and (ii) transformations towards sustainability. Relational approaches foster more dynamic, holistic accounts of human-nature connectedness; more situated and diverse knowledges for decision-making; and new domains and methods of intervention that nurture relationships in place and practice.

(Taken from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/26395916.2020.1814417?needAccess=true&fbclid=IwAR2_Xw9Nv21rLb-7tp5zUpoO2IDTWuSHYX7MRNMYgCWTSmOjsxv0FHOesYw)

Björkman, Tomas

My name is Tomas Björkman and I am an applied philosopher and social entrepreneur.

One of the strongest personal drivers in my life has always been to unlock the hidden structures of the world around me. Curious and exploring, I constantly strive for a better understanding of science, people and social phenomena. Based on my understanding of human and societal needs in a world that is in many ways falling apart, I have committed myself to facilitating the co-creation of a more conscious society.

I want to give momentum to the right kind of changes

I am by no means the only person trying to become more conscious about the problems in the world. Many are also actively doing something about it. My main contribution is to bring change-makers together by creating arenas and initiatives with the goal of stimulating the right kind of development at both an individual and a societal level. The overall goal is to co-create a future at a higher level of individual, cultural, societal consciousness.

In 2008, I started my personal journey by founding Stiftelsen Ekskäret (Ekskäret Foundation) together with a number of future-oriented thinkers, social entrepreneurs and change-makers who became members of the board or creative partners. The Foundation’s strategic vision is to “support a sustainable world where people are creating more well-being for themselves, each other and the planet”. I strongly believe that personal development is a prerequisite for societal change.

Under the umbrella of the Ekskäret Foundation, we have created primarily two venues for events, Learning Labs and exploratory meetings etc.: the workshop facility at the island of Ekskäret (literally: the island where the oak-trees grow), located in the Stockholm archipelago, and the co-working space Ekskäret Klustret in central Stockholm.

The workshop facility on the island of Ekskäret welcomed its first curious and creative visitors in 2011. The facility provides a breath-taking venue and is a perfect arena for exploring existential questions and personal development – for teenager as well as adults. All activities on the island are carried out according to the principles of the Foundation. Ekskäret Klustret, a creative, activity-based co-working space located in the very heart of Stockholm city centre, opened its doors in 2016.

I believe that providing physical and digital meeting venues will create fertile soil for change. Gathering change-makers under one roof will stimulate sharing of ideas and creativity and lead to the co-creation of new initiatives and projects. It will also expand the networks of all participating entrepreneur and generate greater momentum for their important work.

I like to think of these two arenas as important incubators for co-creating positive changes. They are physical manifestations of the idea that a more conscious and sustainable society is possible, and we do watch and guide the ripple effects that result.

More recently I have taken the initiative to create K9 Co-living, Stockholm; Perspectiva Institute, London; the Co-creation loft, Berlin and the digital initiatives 29k.org and ‘Emerge’: www.whatisemerging.com.

Love and the Anthropocene


The Anthropocene is an existential crisis facing humanity, wherein human beings worldwide are confronted with the fact that not only are we in the midst of an unprecedented ecological crisis that endangers the basic living conditions of humankind, but that we are the culprit.
This narrative has elicited increasing and widespread feelings of fear, anxiety, and disillusionment in citizens of every nation on the planet. Einstein said that we cannot solve a problem with the same line of thinking that created the conditions for it. Much has been written about the Anthropocene from scientific and ecological perspectives; this thesis will approach the issue from a philosophical standpoint in an attempt to address the ideological frameworks premised on control and domination of one another and our environment that brought about our current predicament. To understand from whence these ideas originated, we will examine Plato’s Cosmology, specifically his theory of Forms, Reason and Necessity, and the ruler/ruled dynamic. Having considered the impact, evolution, and consequences of Platonic ideals in the development of the western political tradition, we will turn our attention toward contemporary philosophical concepts in search of new frameworks and solutions. Using the phenomenological method, we will consider the non-egoistic existential philosophy of Karl Jaspers and the political philosophy of Hannah Arendt.
The works of Jaspers and Arendt have been selected for several reasons. If humanity is indeed experiencing an existential crisis, Jaspers provides an existential antidote through striving toward non-egoistic Existenz in pursuit of higher consciousness. We will discuss paths toward realizing one’s Existenz such as existential communication, cultivating interrelated freedom, and the loving struggle. Next we will turn to Hannah Arendt’s critique of Plato’s philosophy and the western political tradition, specifically addressing her concepts of plurality, ‘the fact that men, and not Man live on the earth and inhabit the world;’ natality, our unique ability to begin new processes; and the pre-socratic polis, the political space which emerges through people acting in consort (HC, 7). Arendt’s concepts of action and natality offer us hope that we can always embark on a new course.
The Anthropocene imposes its existential question on all people at once, demanding each person to ask, why exist? What does it mean to be a human being in this context? The Anthropocene has awakened our awareness to the fact that not only humans inhabit the earth, but also millions of other species. Plurality seems to be a law of the planet and the foundation of the resilience of entire ecosystems. For human beings, it is also the foundation and condition of politics. To act with others, we must engage people from a spectrum of viewpoints to build a common world that is symbiotic rather than antithetical to our environment, the earth, and the other people and creatures who inhabit it. The reflections of this thesis provide guidance on how the concepts of Jaspers and Arendt can inform and support us in our efforts to move beyond the disturbed human relationships that have contributed significantly to the emergence of the Anthropocene and its existential threats to human and non-human life.

An Integral Theory of Consciousness

“Abstract: An extensive data search among various types of developmental and evolutionary sequences yielded a `four quadrant’ model of consciousness and its development (the four quadrants being intentional, behavioural, cultural, and social). Each of these dimensions was found to unfold in a sequence of at least a dozen major stages or levels. Combining the four quadrants with the dozen or so major levels in each quadrant yields an integral theory of consciousness that is quite comprehensive in its nature and scope. This model is used to indicate how a general synthesis and integration of twelve of the most influential schools of consciousness studies can be effected, and to highlight some of the most significant areas of future research. The conclusion is that an `all-quadrant, all-level’ approach is the minimum degree of sophistication that we need into order to secure anything resembling a genuinely integral theory of consciousness.”

Spiritual Ecology – A Quiet Revolution

“This book is a tour de force. No one has attempted to bring together such a wide range of people and movements under the rubric of Spiritual Ecology. The result is deeply engaging for scholars and activists alike. Sponsel has given us a gem.” Mary Evelyn Tucker, Forum on Religion and Ecology,Yale University

Netzwerk Ethik Heute

Ethik ist Herzenssache

Wir leben in Zeiten globaler Herausforderungen. Das hat auch Auswirkungen auf den Einzelnen. Doch wie lässt sich ein sozialer und ökologischer Wandel erreichen? Das Netzwerk Ethik heute verbindet die persönliche und gesellschaftliche Ebene: die Arbeit an sich selbst mit solidarischem Handeln.

Stiftung Weltethos für interkulturelle und interreligiöse Forschung, Bildung und Begegnung

WEBSITE: “Damit ein gutes und konstruktives Zusammenleben möglich ist, benötigen alle menschlichen Gemeinschaften eine Basis an Grundwerten, die sie teilen. Das gilt für die Familie, die Schule oder das Wirtschaftsunternehmen genauso wie für die Gesellschaft im Allgemeinen. Heute, in Zeiten des Internets, einer global agierenden Politik und Wirtschaft und zunehmend multikultureller Gesellschaften, braucht es einen Grundkonsens über Werte und Normen, der unabhängig von Kultur, Religion oder Nationalität gilt.

Die Idee eines Weltethos geht zurück auf den katholischen Theologen Hans Küng. Bei seinen empirischen Forschungen rund um den Globus stellte er fest, dass allen Weltreligionen und philosophisch-humanistischen Ansätzen bereits grundlegende Werte- und Moralvorstellungen gemeinsam sind. Die Goldene Regel beispielsweise, nach der man sich seinen Mitmenschen gegenüber so verhalten soll, wie man selbst behandelt werden möchte, findet sich in allen Traditionen wieder. Ebenso die Forderung, dass alle Menschen menschlich behandelt werden müssen und Werte wie Gewaltlosigkeit, Gerechtigkeit, Wahrhaftigkeit sowie Partnerschaft von Mann und Frau. Für unsere globale Gesellschaft muss ein solcher gemeinsamer Wertekanon also nicht erst entwickelt werden, denn er existiert bereits: Wir nennen ihn „Weltethos“. Jedoch muss dieser Wertekanon immer wieder neu bewusst gemacht, gelebt und weitergegeben werden.”