The Navigation System, The Planetary Gardener, and the Prism:

Metaphors for Bringing the Future into Being


  • Sohail Inayatullah Professor at the Graduate Institute of Futures Studies at Tamkang University in Taipei, Taiwan and UNESCO Chair in Futures Studies at the Sejahtera Centre for Sustainability and Humanity
  • Emma Paine Editorial Coordinator at the Presencing Institute and a Program Officer with the Institute’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Leadership Labs. She recently completed her MSc in Sociology and Human Rights at the London School of Economics.
  • Otto Scharmer Senior Lecturer in the MIT Sloan School of Management and Founding Chair of the Presencing Institute and the u-school for Transformation



awareness based systems change, Futuring, polycrisis, Transformation, Education


Thirty-three years ago, futurist Sohail Inayatullah and MIT Senior Lecturer Otto Scharmer participated in a seminar focused on macrohistory at the University of Hawaii at Manoa held by peace activist and futurist Johan Galtung. In the years that followed, each developed a body of work that provides an integrated theory and method that supports individuals, groups and organizations to sense, vision and co-create the future. Dr. Inayatullah’s Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) draws on and integrates empiricist, interpretive, critical, and action learning modes of knowing at inner and outer levels to cultivate transformative spaces for the creation of alternative futures. Dr. Scharmer’s Theory U provides a framework and process for building essential leadership capacities needed to address the root causes of today’s social, environmental, and spiritual challenges by shifting individual and collective consciousness from ego-system to eco-system awareness. Recently the two came together in dialogue, joined by the Presencing Institute’s Emma D. Paine, Editorial Coordinator and recent graduate from the London School of Economics, to explore the role of futuring in societal transformation. In the context of our current polycrisis, and drawing from a wealth of personal and professional experience, the three engage in a multi-generational conversation about bringing the future into being.


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How to Cite

Inayatullah, S., Paine, E., & Scharmer, O. (2022). The Navigation System, The Planetary Gardener, and the Prism: : Metaphors for Bringing the Future into Being . Journal of Awareness-Based Systems Change, 2(2), 183–201.