I am thrilled to be among a group of Social Scientists who are part of a Routledge shortform book titled Social Scientists Confronting Global Crisis, edited by Dr. Jean Bartunek. The book has just been released for pre-order, inspired by “a “rant” by Ed Schein in 2020 arguing that Social Scientists need to address global crises. That is, social scientists develop knowledge that is directly pertinent to global challenges and crises, and need to be included in initiatives taken to address them. They must present our knowledge in public forums and our voices need to be heard by others.” My chapter is titled: Gathering on the Bridge: Co-creating our Emerging Equity-Centered Future. Below are details for pre-ordering and a brief excerpt of my chapter.
How do we make the changes required of us?
How do we move past the overwhelm and crippling emotions to take action?
How do we include the marginalized without alienating the privileged?
How do we bridge the divides?
My starting point in response, is and will always be as Peter Block has written, that the answer to How is Yes (Block, 2003). Block writes:
“A major obstacle to acting on what matters is asking questions of methodology too quickly. I have symbolized this by obsessively focusing on the question How? It’s not that our pragmatic How? Questions are not valid. It’s just that when they define the debate we are deflected from considering our deeper values—plus asking How? Is our favorite defense against taking action…The alternative to asking How? Is saying Yes—not literally, but as a symbol of our stance towards the possibility of more meaningful change.” (Block, 2003, pp 11, 27)
I believe we are at a threshold which we must push through to get to our transformations. The only way through, using a biblical journey narrative, is to embark on the journey from the Red Sea to the River Jordan, to get to our promised land. It may not be a straight path and will take us a metaphorical 40 years, but it will be worth it to overturn the 400 to thousands of years it took us to get here.
I have begun to formulate a way of thinking about navigating the complexity of this work that I call The Bridge Framework. This title is inspired by the often-quoted words from Nelson Mandela’s 1994 inauguration speech: The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us.
It applies specifically in contexts where historical inequities persist and there is a will to work towards transformation. It is an application of my “Grey Zone Change” thinking to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion work. Grey Zone Change is the space between the current state and the emerging future that is undefined and unknowable (Gilpin-Jackson, 2020a). In the grey zone, we accept that there are many questions and no simple answers, and we navigate it by intentionally doing the tough work needed to transition, learn and develop together to the emerging future, focused on possibility and courage. I envision, in the Bridge Framework, that the emerging future is metaphorically at the Gathering Place at the center of the bridge…As a Black, African woman; with roots in Sierra Leone and Canada; from a lineage of Indigenous African Edgewalkers; who is married to a descendant of the freed and repatriated Black slaves to Africa; and who is a scholar-practitioner in these social sciences; my hope for the future, is that I will live to see our world achieve system wholeness at the Gathering Place on the Bridge, healing our fault lines and co-creating a global equity-centered future for the next generation…