Andrew Haldane and Joanna Choukeir discuss that “to make the most of the current energy and consensus for action on social, political, and environmental issues we must reinvest in long-term thinking and creativity.”

Regenerating our systems

Their article for the Joseph Roundtree Foundation highlights that we are living in a system and model that focuses on short-term changes, on the individual and on the extraction of resources rather than ecological regeneration. We need to change our modus operandi to focus on collective action to regenerate the people and the planet long-term.

Haldane and Choukeir state that we need a “leap of imagination” to solve the issues that our society is facing. As “Albert Einstein put it, ‘we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”. 

However, our educational model does not teach children creativity, wonder, and wishful systems thinking. Instead, it focuses on what can be measured, researched and proven.

How might we strengthen our collective imagination?

Psychologist Thomas Suddendorf described how two key things make humans unique from other animals. Humans’ ability to “undertake open-ended acts of imagination” and to “link our minds together to generate collective imagination”. However, spaces for imagination over time have become constrained and de-prioritised. 

What should we invest in to strengthen our collective imagination?

  • Creativity in the curriculum – processes for Creative Problem Solving and space for creativity in the syllabus. 
  • Nurturing the long-term – “For example, by government setting themselves multi-generational targets or missions which bridge electoral cycles, such as the commitment to net zero by 2050”.
  • Regenerative imagination – circular systems that ensure there is no loss through waste or extraction.
  • ‘Glocal’ imagination – starting locally with imagination practises taking into account people, culture and context and then finding the link to the global whole.


To address the environmental, social and political challenges that lie ahead we should equip the next generation with the ability and space to practise collective imagination.