Observations from Sandra Boni, part of the 2022 TIP Conference organising team on the ‘live reflection and learning’ spaces at the conference followed by brief reflections from three participants at the event working in research and policy roles.
Let me start this short reflection by saying that the TIP Conference in January 2022 was the most fantastic effort I have seen in a virtual conference to promote interaction and learning among participants. We had interactive panels, a daily learning space, small rooms to talk, a specific channel on slack, online boards, a set of recorded sessions, and more.
I personally enjoyed the lively discussions we had during panels. It helped me to reflect on the importance of how actors (including me) understand spaces in our engagements, and on the relevance of ‘material’ conditions that affect participants in transformative pathways. These are just two examples of insightful learning raised during my involvement in panels, where we had meaningful debates.
Another relevant space to enact learning among participants was the daily learning space itself: if I look at the Miro boards produced by participants collectively, there are fascinating quotes about what they have reflected on during the Conference: transdisciplinarity, transformative language, the relevance of diversity of contexts, the importance of attitudes as humility, and so on.
However, despite the efforts of the organising team, the level of attendance to the dedicated learning space did not meet my expectations.
I’ve considered potential reasons: being an unusual space in a conference, we should have considered more promotion and explanation of the purpose, or a different allocation in the programme.
But I also have a more profound thought on the relatively low engagement: I still perceive that spaces to interact, exchange, and discuss are unfamiliar and uncomfortable for the TIP community. For the most established, perhaps because it is a different context, compared to traditional academic or policy spaces; for the newcomers, early career participants and non-English native speakers, perhaps because they encounter power imbalances that prevent them from speaking up.
Nevertheless, what we saw during the interactions in the learning space is a real example that those barriers can be overcome if we have the will and attitude to do it. Deep learning is critical for transformation; it is the way to challenge established routines. In that sense, all the efforts made during the TIP conference have been worthwhile: they can serve as an example of how virtual spaces can be transformed into learning arenas.
Participatory research and experimentation, Spain
I turn my attention to the TIP conference 2022 with the first thoughts of Johan Schot in mind: ‘the world needs system change’ and ‘there is no time to waste’.
These spaces, where researchers, civil society and the public sector worked together to share academic and empirical experiences across multiple sectors and topics were fantastic!
Besides learning to use and apply Transformative Innovation Policy, the sessions also stressed for me the importance of mobilising and involving citizens in participatory processes with different methodologies that help to legitimise the process and solve social and ecological problems. Above all, to promote systemic transformations in our societies.
A highlight for me was thinking about transformative outcomes for developing knowledge, as in order to transform the socio-technical configurations of our research, empirical spaces need to change – for instance, it is important that we legitimise tacit knowledge within the system.
Diego Hernández Flores
Research on sustainability transitions and living labs, Brazil
The TIP conference was an extraordinary experience in terms of the conference format, with different forms of online participation made available for the attendees.
The conference switched smoothly between live-stream, Zoom (plenary) and Zoom break-out sessions.
There was also an extra ‘live reflection and learning‘ session on Zoom, where diverse and very equal interactions between seniors and juniors and participants from all countries and backgrounds could happen.
It was the most equal interaction I’ve ever experienced at a conference. For example, interaction between the head of the conference committee and a bachelor student was made possible by this format.
Policy-making and multi-level dialogue, Austria
I was happily surprised about the very dynamic conferencing platform, as it allowed for a Net Zero space with many different formats of interaction among participants from all over the world! This made the conference very stimulating in terms of engaging with others… It makes it an excellent repository of contacts, knowledge, resources and materials for continuing the learning process and allows everybody to stay connected with other colleagues.
Going back to the platform, I noticed that people stopped interacting after the conference, something I hope changes. I would like to be able to see it as a day-to day-space for everybody. I noticed that the Networking Tables were still functioning, making it a great space to continue or start conversations or ideate joint projects.
In the 23 sessions in which I participated, I found that participants were from many diverse fields and were very engaged and participative, willing to learn and share. Dialogues allowed for the sharing of alternative narratives, so they were very rich and inspirational for the mobilization of ideas.
I believe that societies need to learn new ways of living without creating destruction. Challenges for these transitions are significant, so I also believe that the Transformative Innovation Policy and transitions community of learning can be of great impact for the world and needs to keep expanding to achieve those incremental changes that can eventually be transformative.
Teresa de León Zamora
Research, policy-making and funding, Mexico
Boni, S., Hernández Flores, D., De Leon Zamora, T., Rabfogel-Scheer, J. (2022) Reflections from participants on relational learning at the TIP conference. Available at https://tipresourcelab.net/resource/reflections-from-participants-on-relational-learning-at-the-tip-conference/