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Who wants a transcending perspective?

This essay was written as a proposal for the 15th Invitational Seminar on Environmental Education Research:“Challenges for environmental and sustainability education research in times of climate crisis”, organised by the Centre for Sustainable Development of Ghent University in collaboration with partners of the SEDwise network.

The central theme of the seminar “Challenges for environmental and sustainability education research in times of climate crisis” asks for a new way to look at the whole problem and the whole system of people trying to solve the problem of climate crisis. To see what is required to solve the climate crisis our premise is that we need to look at the problem from a transcending perspective. The education required to get to a transcending perspective we call transformative learning. The research to develop this type of learning requires of course a transcending perspective too. Or to put it even in stronger terms, we need transformative learning to be able to see that we need transformative learning in the way we have defined it; learning from a transcending perspective.

The questions in relation to sub-themes which are meant to serve as an inspiration can easily be answered from a transcending perspective but cannot be understood from one’s own perspective or paradigm. It is like telling that the earth is round while still everybody believes that the earth is flat. Any discussion will die together with the messenger from the transcending perspective. Donella Meadows who was part of the first climate research group that published the famous report in 1972 has discussed this matter in an article* she wrote in 1999 on leverage points. About people with a transcending perspective she says “It is in this space of mastery over paradigms that people throw off addictions, live in constant joy, bring down empires, get locked up or burned at the stake or crucified or shot, and have impacts that last for millennia.”.


Columbus was someone who challenged the paradigm of the earth being flat. Now it is obvious that the earth is round. In the same way we expect that transformative learning will be obvious in the (near) future to use for solving problems and to do research. To get there we have started a showcase project just like the journey of Columbus was. We therefore call this showcase project the Columbus project.

In this Columbus project students from all over the world make use of a practical form of transformative learning, called Next Level Learning, to solve the very complex problems of this world. We will publish these results when we have sufficient body of students from different parts of the world. We aim at two to three hundred students participating.

Our starting question “Who wants a transcending perspective?” brings the starting point of solving the problem of the climate crisis back to ourselves. And not only for this problem but for all complex problems new solutions become visible with transformative learning, or in practical terms with Next Level Learning. The solutions are still unimaginable and unthinkable without a transcending perspective. The sooner we have sufficient students in our project the sooner you and the rest of the world will get a transcending perspective.

Questions for discussion: Do you want to have a transcending perspective? Do you want to make an effort to pursue a transcending perspective for all? Do you want to enhance your research project by using transformative learning, or practically speaking Next Level Learning? 

You can read all about Next Level Learning and the Columbus project in the description of the blueprint for a new university, the foundation for a transition to a better world in the 21st century on 


* see link to article on

You can read about the outcome of the call and the reaction to our proposal on

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