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Covid-19 as a watershed in how we run the world. Important reflection from Rutger Bregman

October 15, 2020
I’ve been catching up with my reading this week, and really enjoyed this essay (from May – sorry for the delay!). Bregman (a Dutch historian who became an overnight global sensation with this fine outburston taxes at Davos) is brilliant on the role of ideas in driving paradigm shifts. He uses my favourite quote from Milton Friedman ‘“Only a crisis

Covid as Critical Juncture – please comment on this draft paper/join us on Zoom

April 3, 2020
My LSE students are a challenging lot (not as in ‘problem’; as in ‘challenging’) and their questions got me thinking about Covid-19 as a critical juncture. The result is this short-ish (12 page) paper (much improved by the students’ comments on earlier drafts). Please send comments. We will also be discussing it on Zoom next Wednesday (8th April) 2.30-3.30pm UK

Two top authors compared: Hossain on Bangladesh and Ang on China

September 21, 2017
OK, so this week I’ve reviewed the two important new books on the rise of China and Bangladesh. Now for the tricky bit – the comparison. The books are very different in their approach. Where Yuen Yuen Ang focuses on the ‘how’ in China, Naomi Hossain is more interested in the ‘why’ in Bangladesh. Hossain traces the ‘why’ to the

On theories of change, what are the differences between playing offence and defence?

December 13, 2016
Unsurprisingly, in this year of Brexit and US elections, I’ve been thinking about how to stop bad stuff happening. While they are doubtless desperately looking for silver linings in a year of defeats, progressive movements are likely to spend a good part of the next few years defending good things from political assault. So what is the same/different about defence

Why systems thinking changes everything for activists and reformers

November 4, 2016
This week, the Guardian ran a very nicely edited ‘long read’ extract from How Change Happens covering some of the book’s central arguments, under the title Radical Thinking Reveals the Secrets of Making Change Happen. Here it is: Political and economic earthquakes are often sudden and unforeseeable, despite the false pundits who pop up later to claim they predicted them

Where are the gaps in the way we campaign?

August 11, 2016
The summer is a time for relaxed chats in my Brixton office. This week it was with a seasoned NGO campaigner who’s been on a break, and wondering about re-entry into the UK/global development and environment campaign scene at the research-y end. Where are the gaps and potential niches that a bright, reflective, experienced campaigner-turned-researcher could help to fill? Here’s a