Perspectiva is a community of expert generalists working on an urgent one hundred year project to improve the relationships between systems, souls, and society in theory and practice.
Perspectiva emerged from conversations between its cofounders, Scottish Philosopher, climate campaigner and chess Grandmaster Dr. Jonathan Rowson and Swedish Social theorist, entrepreneur, and Club of Rome member Tomas Bjorkman in the second half of 2015.
Jonathan had recently published an RSA report, Spiritualise: revitalising Spirituality to address 21st century challenges, which surpassed expectations in terms of impact – many influential people seemed to be ‘coming out’ in terms of recognising that the inner life is hugely relevant politically. He was also completing a public engagement project on the seven dimensions of climate change (science, law, technology, money, democracy, culture, behaviour) and was looking for an institutional pathway to connect complex global challenges and human development.
Tomas had recently hosted a range of reflective social change retreats at his Eskäret Foundation. He observed a fascinating disparity between the relatively objective and conventional language in the formal meetings and the relatively subjective and spiritual language used in smaller informal groupings. Professionally, people wielded reason and evidence, but when they felt free to connect at a human level they were much more curious about the relevance of longing, ultimate ends and scope for meaningful personal change.
Tomas was finishing his book on ‘The Market Myth’. Both were beginning to wonder why ‘system change’ seemed so elusive. For instance both deeply admired the work of the New Economics Foundation, but their transformational ideas did not seem to be significantly influencing mainstream policy debates.
Jonathan and Tomas were beginning to home in the potential significance of the blind spot in many such social change organisations; there was often a nod to wellbeing, identity or behaviour change, but something resembling a fear of going further. In the desire to appear rigorous and serious, deeper existential concerns about meaning, transcendence and purpose were sidestepped. The question was how to make sense of the practical and policy relevance of these ideas. A picture of ‘life as such’ began to take shape that comprised the co-arising of objective (scientific, emergent) subjective (psychological, spiritual) and inter-subjective (cultural, political) features of the world. The importance of the relationship between these different kinds of phenomena has informed Perspectiva’s work ever since.
We are scholars, artists, activists, futurists and seekers who believe credible hope for the first truly planetary civilisation lies in forms of economic restraint and political cooperation that are beyond prevailing epistemic capacities and spiritual sensibilities.
Our charitable purpose is therefore to develop an applied philosophy of education for individual and collective realisation in the service of averting societal collapse; and in the spirit of serious play and ambitious humility, to cultivate the imaginative and emotional capacity required to usher in a world that is, at the very least, technologically wise and ecologically sound.
We believe the world’s major challenges stem from a crisis of perception and imagination, and the failure of political culture to honour the fullness of reality.
We are fascinated by the myriad ways in which our tacitly held worldviews shape our judgement, and how spiritual needs for security, meaning and purpose indirectly create political and economic outcomes.
In plain language: We think the world is in serious trouble, and not just because of climate change. We don’t like false positivity, but we are disinclined to despair.
We believe there is unchartered terrain worth exploring and developing, and most of it is inside and between us.
Over the next few years we will be pursuing four main thematic strands of work:
Perspectiva is a registered charity funded by grants from trusts and foundations. We thank The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, The Templeton Foundation, The JJ Trust, Friends Provident Foundation, The Edith Ellis Trust and The Schöpflin Foundation for helping Perspectiva grow from idea to birth to the adolescent it is today.
We are particularly grateful and excited about our Strategic Partnership with The Fetzer Institute and look forward to building other funding relationships over the next decade.
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Perspectiva is registered in England and Wales as: Perspectives on Systems, Souls and Society (1170492). Our charitable aims are: ‘To advance the education of the public in general, particularly amongst thought leaders in the public realm on the subject of the relationships between complex global challenges and the inner lives of human beings, and how these relationships play out in society; and to promote research, activities and discourse for the public benefit in these subjects and to publish useful results’. Aside from modest income from books and events, all our income comes from donations from philanthropic trusts and foundations and further donations are therefore welcome using the button below.