Transformative change: unlocking institutional imagination

Thursday, April 4, 2024 - 09:30 to 17:00
Maynooth University

The Department  of Sociology and Maynooth University Social Science Institute are delighted, under the auspices of Future Forum,  to host this conference on Transformative change: unlocking institutional imagination.
This conference provides a space for rethinking the role of institutions in enabling deeper, more systematic and speedier transformation.  It is an opportunity to reflect on the nature of the transformative state, new forms of democracy, and the lessons that can be learned from international experience in re-imagining institutions.  The focus is on reimagining institutions and on how institutional imagination might best be enabled.  The conference is particularly relevant to policy makers, NGOs, academics, legislators, public representatives, journalists and those with responsibility for and interest in institutional change. 

This conference is organised under the auspices of the Futures Forum, a network of interested people established after a successful event held at TCD and UCD in November 2022 on the theme of Futures Thinking. This involved a range of speakers from Ireland and other countries and focused on the need for and role of foresight and futures capabilities to address longer-term issues in Irish and European economies and societies.
History shows that states are capable of radical transformation and creative innovation.  In the 1920s and 1930s, Ireland pioneered the concept of semi-state organisations,  while it subsequently created a range of institutions that were central to the country’s economic development.  Internationally, we can point to many examples of positive radical imaginaries from Roosevelt’s New Deal, to the UK’s welfare state, to the eradication of polio, to the US’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, all of which illustrate what a capable state can achieve
link to a summary report of the Futures Thinking Conference held in October 2022. 

Date and location:  April 4th 2024, in Maynooth University Library Conference Room (9:30 am - 5:00 pm). 
Cost: €50 (waged) €20 (unwaged).  Light lunch provided.



9:30 - 10:00  Registration
10:00-10:30  Introduction; How we get stuck. participative table session
Facilitators: Martin Hawkes & Chris Chapman (Burren College of Art).
10:30 – 11:15 am Radical change requires radical imagination (online sessions).
Speaker: Kim Stanley Robinson (author) - Chair: Mary Murphy (Maynooth University)
11:15 - 11:30 Coffee
11:30 - 12:30 Institutional change, creativity versus inertia
Speaker: Wolfgang Polt (Joanneum Research, Austria)  – Chair Ian Hughes 
Response by Maggie O’Neill (UCC) &  Seán Ó Riain (Maynooth University).
12:30 – 1:00 Enabling institutional imagination: participative table session  
3 Participative Table Sessions  
Facilitators: Martin Hawkes & Chris Chapman (Burren College of Art).
1:00 – 2:00 Lunch.  Lisa McGreevy Art Exhibition - I Am Woman
2:00 – 3:15  Case studies of institutional imagination and transformation
Sign up to one theme for small group discussion on some institutionally transformative examples, considering application to an Irish context.
Universities:  Speakers: Trevor Vaugh (MU); Martin Parker (University of Bristol); Chair:  Linda Doyle (TCD)
Cities:  Speakers: Brian Ó Gallachóir (UCC) ; Wolfgang Polt (JRI, Austria);  Chair: Rob Kitchin (Maynooth University). 
Public goods & services: Speakers: Orla O Connor (NWC)  Ray Griffin (SETU); Chair: Larry O’Connell  (Director NESC)
3.45 – 4.30 Plenary - Active Hope;   Chair: Joanna O Riordan (IPA)
Panel discussion and Q&A taking learning from round tables reflecting on various institutional experiments and building on what Irish state/society/market needs to do to become ‘unstuck’.  Panel of speakers plus chairs from previous session.  
Larry O’Connell (Director NESC); Linda Doyle (Provost TCD); Rob Kitchin (MU);  Donncha Kavanagh (UCD), Dermot O’Doherty (Futures Forum).  
4.30 - 5:00 Reflecting on working with institutional imagination  –  Participative Table Session 
Facilitators: Martin Hawkes & Chris Chapman (Burren College of Art).
Close 5:00 pm Post conference drinks in The Roost Bar