Kairos is a new London space exploring ideas for radical social and cultural change in response to the climate and nature crises.
At Kairos all discussion begins with the assumption that humanity is entering a period of unprecedented transformation, whether we’re shaping it or merely responding.
All our events are in-person at 84 Tottenham Court Road W1T 4TG.
Events coming up
Kairos Book Club: “Combining” by Nora Bateson
Friday December 1st
Screening of “Village of Lovers”
Tuesday December 5th
kairos (kī¦räs, ancient greek): a period of transformation that is both a great challenge and a fleeting moment of opportunity.
We are about to enter a period of rapid social and cultural change as a consequence of climate and ecological breakdown.
Global systems, political institutions, the role of individuals in community, our relationship to the future and even the stories we tell about what it means to be human – everything is heading into flux.
Yet mainstream intellectual discourse is failing to embrace the new reality.
We need to take an imaginative leap, to step outside our long-held certainties and think again.
“It’s time to change the course of human history. We appear to be heading into what the ancient Greeks called Kairos, a window of opportunity when our capacity for change is put to the test.” – David Wengrow, co-Author “The Dawn of Everything”
“Targeting a climate resilient, sustainable world involves fundamental changes to how society functions, including changes to underlying values, worldviews, ideologies, social structures, political and economic systems, and power relationships.” – The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Sixth Assessment Report
Some people who have already appeared at Kairos
Carmody Grey, theologian, Assistant Professor of Catholic Theology at Durham University; Graeme Hayes, sociologist, Reader in Political Sociology at Aston University; Nafeez Ahmed, journalist, Special Investigations and Global Trends, Reporter at Byline Times, Director of Global Research at RethinkX; Nick Anim, activist, Director of Transition Town Brixton; Caroline Hickman, climate psychologist and psychotherapist, Lecturer at the University of Bath and Board Member of the Climate Psychology Alliance; Carne Ross, former diplomat, Founder of Independent Diplomat, Author of The Leaderless Revolution; Jonathan Rowson, philosopher, Co-Founder and Director of Perspectiva; Josh Appignanesi, film-maker, Director of “My Extinction”; Rupert Read, writer and researcher, Reader in Philosophy, University of East Anglia; Peter Sutoris, environmental anthropologist, Assistant Professor at the University of York, and Author of “Educating for the Anthropocene”; Emmanuel Cappellin, filmmaker, Director of “Once You Know”, France; Asad Rehman, director of War on Want; Steve Keen, economist, Author of Debunking Economics; Indra Adnan, psycho-social therapist, Founder and Co-Initiator of The Alternative UK; Sarah Stein Lubrano, academic and writer, Researcher at the University of Oxford; Noortje Marres, sociologist, Professor in Science, Technology and Society at the University of Warwick; Vanessa Chamberlin, artist and theologian; Ruth Padel, poet, Author of “Watershed”; Mark Vernon, psychotherapist and writer, Author of “Spiritual Intelligence in Seven Steps”; Anouchka Grose, writer and psychoanalyst, Author of “A Guide to Eco-anxiety”; Anthea Lawson, writer and campaigner, Author of “The Entangled Activist”; Paul Powlesland, barrister, Lawyers for Nature; Liz Jensen, novelist, founder-member of XR Writers Rebel; Raj Chada, protest lawyer, solicitor at Hodge Jones and Allen; Roger Hallam, social movement theorist, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion; César Rodríguez-Garavito, Colombian lawyer and environmental justice scholar, professor at New York University; Güney Yildiz, journalist, researcher and specialist on the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria; Rowan Tilly, activist and nonviolence advocate; Hilary Wainwright, sociologist, activist, Author and co-editor of Red Pepper magazine; John Fass, artist, designer, Senior Lecturer in User Experience Design at London College of Communication; Toby Litt, writer, Lecturer in Creative Writing at Southampton University and Author of “How to Tell a Story to Save the World”; Jessie Maryon Davies, musical facilitator, composer and storyteller; A.C. Grayling, philosopher, Master of the New College of the Humanities at Oxford and Author of “For the Good of the World’; Charlotte Du Cann, writer, editor and co-director of the Dark Mountain Project; Bill Moyer, musician and activist, Co-founder of the Backbone Campaign; Guy Standing, economist, Professorial Research Associate at SOAS and Author of “Plunder of the Commons”; Justine Huxley, co-founder of Kincentric Leadership; Andrew Boyd, activist, Author of “Beautiful Trouble”; Sandra Niessen, anthropologist, Member of Fashion Act Now; Sophie Scott-Brown, philosopher and intellectual historian, Author of Colin Ward and the Art of Everyday Anarchy; Josh Cohen, psychoanalyst, writer and academic, Author of “Not Working”; Jem Bendell, strategist and educator on social change, Author of “Deep Adaptation” and “Breaking Together”; Sicelo Mbatha, South African wilderness guide and story-teller, Author of “Black Lion”; Tim Waterman, professor of landscape at the Bartlett and author of The Landscape of Utopia; Ruth Kinna, professor of political theory at Loughborough University and author of The Government of No One: The Theory and Practice of Anarchism; Natasha Walter, writer, campaigner and author of Before the Light Fades: A Memoir of Grief and Resistance; Gail Bradbrook, climate activist, Co-founder of Extinction Rebellion; Nika Dubrovsky, artist, Founding Director of The David Graeber Institute; Michael Hrebeniak, Founder and Co-convenor of the New School of the Anthropocene; Gessie Houghton, gallerist, Director of the October Gallery and Secretary to the Institute of Ecotechnics; Rob Percival, writer and campaigner,uthor of The Meat Paradox: Eating, Empathy and the Future of Meat; Phoebe Tickell, former scientist and social entrepreneur, Founding CEO of Moral Imaginations; Sandra Laville, journalist, Environment Correspondent at the Guardian; Cathy Eastburn, mother, musician and activist with Extinction Rebellion, Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil; Roger Harrabin, journalist, formerly Environment specialist at the BBC.
Some of the people we hope will appear
UK: David Wengrow, archaeologist, Professor of Comparative Archaeology at UCL; Jason Hickel, economic anthropologist, Professor at the Autonomous University in Barcelona, and Visiting Senior Fellow at the LSE; Kate Raworth, economist, author of Doughnut Economics; Adam Elliot-Cooper, social scientist, Researcher at Greenwich University; George Monbiot, journalist, author of “Regenesis”; David Olusoga, historian, Professor of Public History, University of Manchester; Carolyn Steel, architect and writer, Author of “Sitopia: How Food Can Save the World”; Tim Benton, Director, Environment and Society Programme at Chatham House; Aled Jones, Director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Cambridge University; Clive Lewis, politician, Labour MP and Shadow Minister for Sustainable Economics; Owen Sheers, author, Professor of Creativity at Swansea University and co-founder Black Mountains College; Wolfgang Blau, former media executive, Co-Founder of Oxford Climate Journalism Network; Caroline Lucas, politician, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion; Roman Krznaric, public philosopher, Author of “The Good Ancestor”; Farhana Yamin, international lawyer and activist, Associate Fellow at Chatham House; Tim Crosland, lawyer and legal campaigner, Director of Plan B; Jojo Mehta, legal campaigner, Director of Stop Ecocide International; Sally Weintrobe, psychoanalyst, Chair of the International Psychoanalytic Association’s Climate Committee and Author of “Psychology of Roots of the Climate Crisis”; David King, scientist, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government; Rob Hopkins, writer and activist, Founder of Transition Towns; James Thornton, lawyer, CEO of Client Earth; Sophie Howe, political advisor, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales; Vinay Gupta, technologist and entrepreneur, Founder of Mattereum; Isabella Tree, writer and conservationist, Co-creater of Knepp Wildland and Editor of “Granta 153: Second Nature”; Paul Kingsnorth, writer, Co-Founder of Dark Mountain Project, Founder of the Wyrd School and Author of “Beast”; Alastair McIntosh, writer, activist, land reformer, Founder of GalGael; Charlie Gardener, scientist, Researcher at the University of Kent; Iain McGilchrist, neuroscience researcher, philosopher and literary scholar, Author of “The Master and His Emissary”; Gail Bradbrook, activist, Co-founder Extinction Rebellion; Fehinti Balogun, writer and activist, creater of “Can I Live?”; Simon Schama, historian, Professor of History at Columbia University and writer/presenter of “The History of Now”; Paddy Loughman, strategist, Co-founder of Stories For Life; Ash Sarkar, journalist and activist, Senior Editor at Novara Media; Jolyon Maughan, barrister, Founding Director of The Good Law Project; Predrag Slijepčević, philosopher of biology, Senior Lecturer at Brunel University and Author of “Biocivilisations: A New Look at the Science of Life”.
INTERNATIONAL: Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher and social critic, USA; Margaret Atwood, writer, Author of “Oryx and Crake” and “Burning Questions”, Canada; Anasuya Sengupta, poet, Co-founder of Whose Knowledge?, India; Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University and author of “Merchants of Doubt”, USA; Naomi Klein, writer and activist, Author of “This Changes Everything”, Canada; Amitav Ghosh, writer, Author of “The Great Derangement”, India; Arundhati Roy, writer and activist, India; Andreas Malm, human ecologist, Associate Professor of Human Ecology at Lund University, Sweden; Peter Godfrey-Smith, philosopher, writer, Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney, Australia; Ian Haney-Lopez, political scientist, Professor of Public Law at the University of California, Berkeley, USA; Bill McKibben, writer and activist, USA; Saleemul Huq, scientist, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Bangladesh; Daniel Christian Wahl, systems designer, Spain; Srdja Popovic, activist, co-founder of Otpor, Serbia; Kim Stanley Robinson, writer, Author of “Ministry for the Future”, USA; Vanessa Nakate, activist, Founder Youth for Future Africa, Uganda; Jonathan Franzen, writer, Author of “The End of the End of the Earth”, USA; Rutger Bergman, historian and writer, Author of “Human Kind: A Hopeful History”, Netherlands; Pablo Servigne, writer and collapsologist, Author of “How Everything Can Collapse” and “Another End of the World is Possible”, France; Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, writer, film-maker and art historian, founder of ANO Institute, Ghana; Mark and Paul Engler, writers, Co-Authors of “This is an Uprising”, USA; Mary Robinson, politician, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Founder of the Mary Robinson Foundation, Ireland; Timothy Snyder, historian, Professor of History at Yale University and Author of “On Tyranny”, USA; Charles Eisenstein, writer, Author of “Climate – A New Story”, USA; Yuval Noah Harari, historian, Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; Paccha Turner Chuji, artists and activist, Ecuadorian Amazon; Julia Steinberger, scientist, Professor of Ecological Economics at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland; Jenny Odell, artist and writer, Author of “Saving Time”, USA; Minna Salami, journalist, blogger at MsAfropolitan, Finland; Michael Kagan, rabbi, writer and entrepreneur, Co-Founder of the Jewish Climate Initiative, Israel.
Some of the questions we’re asking
Human societies have been through periods of rapid change before – what can we learn from them about how to navigate the transformations to come?; What would an alternative economic system look like that was based on human values and put people and planet first?; With the effects of climate change set to disproportionately affect those nations who have done least to cause it, what would be fair compensation for the low-lying island nations and other states in the Global South?; How can we understand the epic failure of the media to communicate the crises? How are the “rules” of journalism failing us? Can we get vested interests out of our press, or do we need to start again?; Is the drive towards authoritarianism across the globe a response to imminent climate breakdown and the start of civilisation collapse?; How can neurology and psychology explain our collective failure to act? Do we believe we aren’t worth saving? Or does blame lie with the hard-wiring of our brains?; As resources (land, energy, food, commodities) become scarcer, can the notion of the commons help us rethink how to share?; How can we drive a shift away from seeing ourselves as consumers towards understanding ourselves as citizens?; How can we halt and reverse the increasing concentration of power in the agricultural system? How do we re-introduce complexity into a dangerously simplified system? How can we reduce the land we use for agriculture and still feed everyone?; Why do we allow 0.01% of the population to cause 2000 times more pollution than the average world citizen? Is it possible to act on climate without first putting a cap on wealth and solving the corrupt money problem?; How does intentional social change come about? What tools are there to help us map the levers of influence and learn how to apply pressure?; How can we build an anti-racist climate coalition to counter the forces that divide us?; As we seek to build more resilient communities, do we need to rethink the relationship between individual freedom and social responsibility? What would we lose and what would we stand to gain?; Which technologies are exacerbating the problem, which are simply distracting fantasies and which offer vital solutions for the future?; Have we created a political system in which only psychopaths can rise to the top? How can we find and nurture better leaders?; How will future generations identify and hold accountable those impeding action today? What do we need to put in place now to record culpability and ensure justice is done?; What are the particular risks for women of social breakdown and how to reduce them? Women are also key to mitigation and adaptation, so how to empower them?; How do we identify and counter the disinformation that is corrupting debate? How do we discover and expose who is behind it? What lessons can we learn from our adversaries about messaging and how can we apply them for the good?; Would a rapid retreat from the fossil fuel economy worsen the cost of living crisis or help to alleviate it? How can we support the most vulnerable through the transition?; Why as individuals do we find it so hard to break the rules of our system, even though we know it is killing us?; How can the Global South mitigate and adapt while still shackled by debt to the North? Do we need a debt jubilee and how would it work?; Is the short-term thinking that got us into this mess a human problem or a male one? How might things change from here on in if women took control?; What questions should we be asking about what constitutes a good life and how might they help us respond to the crisis? How do we start reflecting again on what it means to be human?; How different would mainstream analysis of the shifting global order look if it took into account imminent climate breakdown and the threat of social collapse? With the military in the business of risk assessment, what do their predictions tell us about the dangers ahead and what difference geopolitical arrangement will make? Have our existing international organisations proved they can’t solve the crisis and if so what needs to take their place?; What lessons can we learn from past revolutions about our present moment and the role of grassroots social movements in bringing about lasting change?; What is the art world for and why is it failing to speak to us at a time of existential crisis? Has art ever tried to communicate the essence of human life or has it always been in service to the privileged few?; How is democracy falling short and how to reboot or redesign it? Anarchism, citizens’ assemblies, neighbourhood parliaments – how can we rethink our politics?; What kinds of social re-organisation could help us live better together and how does our current physical infrastructure help and hinder? How should architecture and planning be responding, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation? How can we radically up the ante so buildings are not just sustainable but regenerative?; If human civilisation is heading for collapse, what do we want to keep and what are we happy to let go?; Is the obsession with celebrity in our culture inherently problematic, or a useful tool to accelerate change?; How is speciesism causing the nature crisis? Where did our sense of superiority over the rest of nature come from and how do we challenge it? How do we stop viewing other species as commodities to be used, and start treating them as fellow sentient beings to be respected?; What skills should we be teaching today’s children to prepare them for the years ahead? What will they need to know in order to navigate the future? What jobs will be needed and how can we create them?; How can we redefine our relationship to the future? How do we build long-term thinking into our politics? Should we give children the right to vote?; What new forms of climate activism might emerge as the crisis worsens? Are we likely to see an escalation into sabotage, violence and even terrorism?; Why have modern western societies fetishized the material expression of status to such an extent that it threatens our existence? Is consumption inherently wrong or are commodities as much about love as hedonism?; How can we use the legal system to remove the social licence from companies damaging the planet, as well as exert legal pressure?; If the climate crisis is as much a failure of imagination as a failure of leadership, how can we tell new stories that help us to think differently?; With the many competing demands on our land set to increase drastically, how do we balance them? Do we need to rethink land ownership?