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University of Bath

The Art of Organising Hope

This project examines ideas, collaborations, practices and structures, to identify those that bear hope for structural and durable societal change in Europe.

Ana C Dinerstein on stage being interviewed at the Alternative Summit
Sharing reasons to hope

The aim of the project is to investigate ideas, collaborations, practices and structures that are fostering a different societal order in Europe. Such an order is bringing people closer to a more just and sustainable world. The project is not seeking a ready-made blueprint but looks to explore and connect emerging islands of hope, in order to trigger societal change. We will reflect and work on what discourses and practices bear the hope for structural and durable change.

View project website.

Research field work

A fellowship of volunteers, journalists, artists, academics and activists from Ghent visited and thoroughly documented sixty grassroots and civil society organisations during research trips all over Europe, in search of hopeful discourses, methods and practices to counter the present-day upsurge of Euroscepticism and defeatist perceptions of crisis.

We searched Europe for people and practices that embody alternatives for the existing world order. These organisations are consciously participating in the process of establishing more equal and righteous relationships on the level of democracy, ecology, economy, society and/or culture.

Between early March and late October 2017 ten groups of researchers, consisting of a mix of civilians, students, academics, activists and artists, researched the projects selected in their region of destination:

  • Belgium (1)
  • Brazil (1)
  • Catalonia (2)
  • Croatia (6)
  • France (2)
  • Germany (3)
  • Greece (7)
  • Hungary (4)
  • Ireland (3)
  • Kosovo (2)
  • Mozambique (1)
  • Poland (3)
  • Portugal (3)
  • Reviews (2)
  • Scotland (1)
  • Serbia (7)
  • Slovenia (1)
  • Spain (6)

These working trips were thoroughly documented: audio-visual recordings of the conversations, inventory of existing text and other material, websites and blogs, photo reports are available on the project website.

The Alternative Summit: 8 to 11 November 2018

Europe is bursting with activist and hopeful citizens, but their actions too often remain under the radar. In November 2018, on the occasion of the commemoration of the end of the First World War, we held an Alternative European Summit in Ghent.

This Alternative European Summit was comprised of 90 selected participants over four days, with 3 sessions open to the public. During the summit, every participant was invited to contribute to all working and public sessions. The concept, focus and working method of the sessions was worked out by various organising partners who invited inspiring guests to make strong contributions and provide starting points for further debate.

On Sunday 11 November 2018 all the Summit participants took to the stage, in front of an audience of 300 members of the public, who attended to hear about the future of Europe (and the world). The thought-provoking, critical and hopeful perspectives presented are a 'must-see' and 'must-hear' for anyone interested in the project 'The Art of Organising Hope'.

Performance art and multimedia production on tour in Europe

Following the summit, the organisations will continue to develop their partnerships by creating a multimedia stage performance using the content and participants of the summit. The working title of this production will be ‘A future for Europe’.

By early July 2019, we hope to develop a theatre concept that will have some fifteen young Europeans reflect on stage upon the ways in which Europe can turn into a more hopeful project and continent. The search for fairer and more democratic social, ecological and economic balances will be at the very core of this production.

This show will be performed in Belgium and several other European countries. We aim to create a stage production that combines the content (the methods and motives to organise hope) and the form (the art of organisation itself) with our search for ways in which to integrate the isolated islands of hope that are spread all over Europe into a continent with a future.