Confronting the Second Deep Transition through the historical imagination

Estimated Time
45 minutes
Resource Type

In this Leonardo da Vinci Medal address, Johan Schot argues that the imagination – specifically, the historical imagination – is crucially important for actors in the world confronting the next Deep Transition – the coordinated change of many sociotechnical systems in a similar direction.

Johan explains how the historical imagination reveals path-dependencies which shape who we are today, roads not taken, and hidden alternatives, which still might have a future, calling for historians of technology to challenge the view that there are no real alternatives to unsustainable systems for energy, mobility, food, water, healthcare, and other needs.

The address shows us how stories are valuable tools for transformative policy approaches, opening up new possibilities and helping us to unlearn the rules of a dominant system. 





Schot, J. (2016) ‘Confronting the Second Deep Transition through the Historical Imagination’, Technology and Culture, Volume 57 (Number 2) pp. 445-456. Available at

Reflections on TIPC use

‘Using the historical imagination, we can help the world to understand the current situation; we can challenge the way various actors think about the past, and the way they think about path-dependencies and alternative scenarios, and by doing so open up a new understanding of the present and the future.’ – Johan Schot

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