The Passion and Politics Lab
Shaping society and policy without losing passion and ideals
Despite many differences among the countries of the Arab world, many of their institutions and their leaders face similar challenges: The conditions and opportunities for shaping policy and society have been changing since the Arab Spring.
The Passion and Politics Lab provided a space to explore how change agents in different positions and sectors can deal with dynamic systems and address the topics for which they have been demonstrating in the street.
"You could sense that Amr had changed after he participated in the Lab. I saw it in the way in which he talked to people."
Yasser Gamal, a friend of Lab participant Amr El-Fass
Among the 25 change agents (44 % female, 56 % male) were, for example, a professor from the Arab American University of Jenin, representatives of the Finance Ministry of Morroco, and the founding team of the transparency NGO IWatch in Tunisia.
Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, the West Bank, Yemen.
The aim of the one-year Lab process was to build participants’ individual leadership skills, using a value-centred approach that particularly focuses on their methodological skills, and on building their capacity to facilitate systemic change. The process also aimed at developing participants’ broader understanding of change processes in social groups, organisations and systems, thus enabling them to apply their newly acquired knowledge to their own change projects.
Building on the Deep Democracy methodology, the Lab introduced concepts and practical interventions based on modern physics, the science of complexity, and cutting-edge psychology. It included a new approach to awareness training on rank and privileges, and trained leaders and change agents not only to manage diversity and power processes, but also to harness and develop their potential. Participants learned to facilitate large, diverse groups, and to uncover their enormous potential. One of the main aspects was dealing with different opinions and roles.
In the course of the Lab, the participants addressed questions such as: How can leaders from politics and society come to terms with the fact that the processes of change may be very slow or lead to contradictions? And how can this have an impact on their own commitment, passion, and ideals?
During the first two Lab meetings in Rabat, Morocco, and Tunis, Tunisia, the focus was on leadership issues such as how to create alliances and partnerships, and how to tackle conflict situations of the kind that frequently arise in countries undergoing transformation as well as volatility in one’s stakeholder landscape. Personal learning about leadership was linked to the development of participants’ individual change projects.
The third Lab meeting in Otranto, Italy focused on the participants’ change projects and their ongoing implementation in the home country context. Leadership themes covered in the first two modules were revisited, with participants reflecting on their personal learning processes and applying them to their projects.
The fourth and final Lab meeting, once again in Rabat, Morocco, brought to full circle the year long dialogue process. It focused on addressing the individual challenges of the participants especially in the context of sometimes unstable situations in their home countries, and setting further ground for coaching participants with their change projects.
Sali Mohsen M. Hafez co-founded the Arab States' Youth Coalition on Population and Development. She made it her aim to empower women and girls to be able to autonomously access health services and information about reproductive health.
“It takes a lot of practice to really change your attitude toward opinions that make you angry at first, and to make yourself ready to really listen to the others and understand their viewpoint. It was the first time we really learned how this can work and had space to practise it and reflect upon how to implement it in our work.”
Sali Mohsen M. Hafez, The Arab States’ Youth Coalition for Population and Development