There has been a recent proliferation of research and practice on the interior dimensions of sustainability, such as values, beliefs, worldviews and inner capacities. This nascent field of inner transformation is dynamic and emerging, with varied terminology, a breadth of applications, and intense debate about possible contributions as well as limitations and shortcomings. In this article, we aim to provide some orientation by systematising the core contributions of the emerging domain of inner transformation research via the acronym IMAGINE. We show that ontologically, inner transformation research highlights (i) the Interdependence of inner/outer and individual/collective/system phenomena, as well as (ii) the Multiple potential that is latent within each of us to enable transformative change. Correspondingly, it underscores the implications of inner phenomena for sustainability and related action-taking, particularly through: (iii) the Activation of inner dimensions across individual, collective and system levels, and (iv) the Generation of inner transformative capacities through intentional practices. Epistemologically, this necessitates the (v) INclusion of diverse perspectives, required for (vi) Expanding knowledge systems for sustainability. The presented heuristic offers a framework to systematically support and guide sustainability researchers, educators and practitioners to incorporate inner transformation into their work, which is a key requirement for sustainability outcomes and necessary to effectively formulate related policy frameworks.
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Ives, C. D., Schäpke, N., Woiwode, C., & Wamsler, C. (2023). IMAGINE sustainability: integrated inner-outer transformation in research, education and practice. Sustainability science. doi:10.1007/s11625-023-01368-3.
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