About the HIVE

The System Change HIVE is a ‘creative engine room’ informed by a series of discussions between researchers, emerging artists and experienced artistic mentors.

Beginning in early 2019 in Brighton, UK, the HIVE seeks to harness the power of art and imagination to explore new solutions, and how changes in policy, economics, and culture could spur rapid transformations towards zero-carbon scenarios that prioritise wellbeing and more meaningful lives. The creative journey will also involve input from communications experts and result in a set of learnings and ideas about how to communicate the benefits and feasibility of ‘system change’ to wider audiences.

This ‘imagineering’ to open up multiple visions of the future, as well as the personal journeys of our participants, will result in a unique touring exhibition of visual and digital arts, sonic art and a Virtual Reality simulation.

Discussion events in late 2019 and 2020 will be used to reflect on the lessons from the HIVE and inspire new ideas among campaigners, artists and researchers working on system change.

Who's involved?

Financial support for the project is provided by  Arts Council England and Lush Charity Pot.

The HIVE brings a number of organisations together:

Swarm Dynamics

Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics, University of Brighton

ESRC STEPS Centre, Institute of Development Studies and SPRU, University of Sussex

Wired Sussex


as well as individual artists and practitioners in the arts sector who are contributing mentoring, creative input and time. For more details, see the list of Participants.

Our aims

The System Change HIVE aims to help researchers, artists, and digital technologists to learn from each other about the interactions between social science, alternative economics and visual cultures.

There is a clear need to act to address injustices and vulnerabilities linked to climate change, the uneven use of resources, perverse forms of growth and development, enduring poverty, and marginalisation. No single solution will be enough: systemic change is needed.

Despite this complexity, the responses on offer are often based around big solutions, ‘magic bullets’ or scalable tech fixes. Uncertainties are ignored or treated as if they were calculable risks. The importance of unpredictable, unruly, cultural movements for radical transformation is neglected. And socially or politically constructed ‘silences’ contribute to the crisis of imagination, by preventing deep reflection on root causes or shutting down discussion on alternative models.

In this context, spaces that explore uncertain and diverse visions of the future that prioritise well-being are highly valuable at the present moment. The HIVE is one such space among many.


Structured around weekly conversations, creative challenges, and making time between researchers, artists, mentors and experts in communication, the HIVE will explore different aspects of system change, including:

  •        The popular stories told about progress and how they can be reimagined
  •        Alternative economic theories and ideas around GDP growth, ecology and change
  •        How to design communications about climate change
  •        What it means to challenge and transform powerful structures and systems
  •        How to question the systems of money and work that we take for granted
  •        The potential for rapid change towards low-carbon futures
  •        Lessons from hacking, maker movements and open science for system change
  •        How resistance and environmental justice movements use art and culture
  •        Well-being and human identity in radically changed futures
  •        Lessons from urban change in megacities

Beyond the ‘course’ component  of the HIVE, artworks and insights created will provoke and inspire members of the public who interact with our events and exhibitions,  and be brought to advance wider discussions amongst campaigners, artists and researchers working towards systemic change.

Contact the HIVE

Send us an email: hello@systemchangehive.org

If you’re interested in working with the System Change HIVE, we’d love to hear from you.