Inner transformation to sustainability as a deep leverage point: fostering new avenues for change through dialogue and reflection
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2021

This article provides a rationale for inner transformation as a key and hitherto underresearched dimension of sustainability transformations. Inner transformation relates to various aspects of human existence and interactions such as consciousness, mindsets, values, worldviews, beliefs, spirituality and human-nature connectedness. The article draws on Meadows' leverage points approach, as places to intervene in a system, to reveal the relevance of inner transformation for system change towards sustainability. Based on insights from a series of dialogue and reflection workshops and a literature review, this article provides three important contributions to sustainability transformations research: first, it increases our conceptual understanding of inner transformation and its relevance for sustainability; second, it outlines concrete elements of the inner transformation-sustainability nexus in relation to leverage points; and third, it presents practical examples illustrating how to work with leverage points for supporting inner transformation. In sum, the paper develops a systematized and structured approach to understanding inner transformation, including the identification of deep, i.e., highly influential, leverage points. In addition, it critically discusses the often contentious and divergent perspectives on inner transformation and shows related practical challenges. Finally, current developments in inner transformation research as well as further research needs are identified.



Inner transformation

Paradigm shift




Human development

Inner capacities

Personal spheres of transformation

Deep leverage points

Personal sustainability


Christoph Woiwode

RWTH Aachen University

IIT Madras

Niko Alexander Schäpke

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

Chalmers, Rymd-, geo- och miljövetenskap, Fysisk resursteori

Olivia Bina

Universidade de Lisboa

Stella Veciana

Leuphana Universitat Lüneburg

Global Ecovillage Network (GEN)

Iris Kunze

Universität für Bodenkultur

Oliver Parodi

Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

Petra Schweizer-Ries

Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Christine Wamsler

Lunds universitet

Sustainability Science

1862-4065 (ISSN) 1862-4057 (eISSN)

Vol. 16 3 841-858


Tvärvetenskapliga studier


Systemvetenskap, informationssystem och informatik med samhällsvetenskaplig inriktning



Mer information

Senast uppdaterat