Breda University & Interreg: Future learning through a ritual

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A seven generations ritual with researchers and entrepreneurs from the circular economy

IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad gave current CEO Jesper Brodin this assignment before he passed away: ‘The future of IKEA? Think long term, two hundred years ahead.” How do you combine such foresight with short-term trading?

This anecdote illustrates the request we received to guide a ritual tasting for researchers and entrepreneurs from the circular economy on 25/11/2022 at the Breda University of Applied Sciences.

Breda University of Applied Sciences, Centexbel and Interreg Vlaanderen-Nederland organized an inspiring conference for companies and academics from the circular economy. ‘Future learning’ as an essential competence was central. Corporate Rituals turned out to be the perfect partner to help the participants experience the central theme of this conference: ‘How can companies learn in the face of some of the most significant issues and challenges of our time?

Contributing to a better world, also for all life that comes after us

From this central question, we offered conference participants a ritual experience in 7th-generation thinking. The 7th-generation ritual invites participants to reflect on: ‘What is your legacy?’ Today we live in times when future generations will say: which of our ancestors helped make a difference back then? Therefore, we must ask ourselves: ‘How can we contribute to a better world, also for all life that will come after us? How do we want to be remembered “as ancestors who lived in this crucial era of change” in about 150 years?

In the 7th generation ritual, we took scientists and researchers into ‘Deep Time.’ We travelled to the future generations to dream and bring to life our legacy for a new world from that information. Through time travel to the ‘world of the 7th generation’, we put the issues of the day on hold and created a broader awareness of how our actions today have an impact beyond time and space. A ritual space allows for a broader understanding of time. We let go of the short-term thinking that keeps us stuck (after all, the Earth has been around for 4.5 billion years).

” The 7th generation ritual was a highlight of the conference for me. It was a well-guided, very personal, and impressive experience that I still think about on a regular basis. It makes you feel part of the times. It nurtures a sense of responsibility, stimulates action, and simultaneously was a beautiful, quiet moment that gave a deep sense of calm.”

Prof.Dr. Lars Moratis
Chair in Management Education for Sustainability & Professor of Sustainable Business, Antwerp Management School & Breda University of Applied Sciences

Ritual meeting with those who come after us

By taking the participants to the world of the 7th generation after us and staging an encounter between them and ‘we as their ancestors,’ they could experience life in a more lived way, reflect on our legacy for generations to come, and how we can be good ancestors to them. We came back with motivating images, new messages, and enlightening insights about what steps we can take today so that future generations can benefit from our choices here and now. We sharpened our own role in transition challenges and planted seeds. From the experience of this ritual, we dream the desired world ‘into being.’

Finding your deeper purpose by connecting with your legacy

Researchers and entrepreneurs experienced how a broader understanding of time opens us to new insights, allies, and sources of strength. For example, a textile entrepreneur (4th generation of a large family business) could better connect with his previous generations from the ritual and see his task for the generations after him.

Thanks to the embodiment through a ritual, participants can directly experience how everything is related to everything, also across time and space. Consequently, 7th generation thinking creates more ownership of the ‘why’ of what we have to do. It increases the ‘can do feeling,’ which is invaluable in ESG issues and the challenges of our time.