Lively Worlds is a global initiative that aims to empower socially and ecologically regenerative systems change.
Our approach is to activate a global network of spaces for “praxis”, where diverse communities come together to bridge theory with practice.
Why Lively Worlds?
Lively Worlds was formed by university students in the critical social science and humanities disciplines who are deeply passionate but also deeply concerned about the world we have inherited.
We are passionate about social justice and environmental sustainability;
We are concerned by the lack of jobs in institutions beyond academia that sufficiently align with our personal values, while the most lucrative job opportunities continue to reinforce the status quo;
We are passionate about bringing people together to co-create just and thriving futures;
We are concerned by the lack of reflexivity and historical awareness embedded into mainstream institutional responses to challenges such as climate change and inequality.
Thus, we have channeled our energies into creating a counter-institution that brings us closer to the lively worlds toward which we aspire. Lively because we believe that humans, animals, ecosystems should flourish together; Worlds because we encourage creativity and multiple imaginations of the future and reject dominating, monopolizing responses to the world’s challenges.
What do we mean by regenerative?
Regenerating refers to designing systems and practices that take a holistic systems approach to solving environmental, social and economic problems—aiming to restore, rejuvenate and liberate.
In other words, beyond reducing or preventing future harm to people or planet, we proactively focus on reviving a better tomorrow—one that is more sustainable, flourishing and just. The mindset is one of openness and abundance rather than retreat and scarcity.
We conceptualize regenerating as interlocked—viewing “social” and “ecological” regenerating as intrinsic to one another, operating at the individual, collective and systemic scales. Read more about regenerating here.
What are we proposing to do?
Our strategy for catalyzing regenerative change is to foster the “middle space” between theory and practice.
On the ground, our initiative currently takes life in the form of University Praxis Labs. These are spaces for diverse communities to come together to enable virtuous circles between theory and practice.
We have started our work on university campuses because we believe they are a powerful place for catalyzing regenerative systems change. Many students are exploring their identities and their professional passions, while also being exposed to powerful ideas and knowledge in these spaces. One of our long-term impact aims is to empower students to lead regenerative lives and engage in regenerative work post-graduation.Read more about University Praxis Labs here.
Who are we?
As a team, we reflect the diversity and liveliness of the worlds we aspire toward. We are young, energetic, critical, and very passionate about social and environmental change.
Lauren Xie is Co-Founder & Executive Director of Lively Worlds. She has over 10 years of academic and work experience in sustainability and systems change. She holds a Master of Business Administration and MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance from the University of Oxford, where she was a Pershing Square Scholar. She also holds a BA in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard University and was a postgraduate Michael C. Rockefeller Fellow. She has experience in the international development sector in Indonesia, specifically in agricultural innovation systems, impact measurement, multi-stakeholder collaboration, and deforestation and indigenous issues.
Simone Askew is Co-Founder & Operations Director of Lively Worlds, and President of Oxford Praxis Lab. She is a Rhodes Scholar and Masters in Public Policy student at the University of Oxford, where she also completed a MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. She is the first African American female to serve as the Brigade Commander of the U.S. Corps of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point). She co-founded the Joint Service Academy Mass Atrocity Prevention Symposium and was President of the Cultural Affairs Seminar at West Point. She holds a BS in International History with a minor in Environmental Engineering.
Will Conroy is the Research Director of Lively Worlds. He is a PhD student in Urban Planning at Harvard University, where his research focuses on urban political ecology, the commons, and racial capitalism. Will holds an MPhil in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance with Distinction from the University of Oxford, and an undergraduate degree (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Northwestern University. He has previously worked for RECOFTC (The Center for People and Forests) in Bangkok as a Princeton in Asia Fellow, at the Foundation for Ecological Security in Udaipur, India, and at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, DC.
Shanley McConnell is Head Editor of Lively Worlds. She is studying towards an MSt in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford, having previously completed an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Dundee. Her research interests lie in examining the relationships between humility, creativity, humanity and language, and she hopes to pursue a greater understanding of literature and its musicology—the ways its finds something new in the familiar. She often finds inspiration for her poetry in this beautiful tension of belonging to more than one country. Beyond her studies, Shanley enjoys the violin and travelling.
Professor Marc Ventresca is an economic sociologist in the Strategy, Innovation and Marketing Faculty at Saïd Business School and a Governing Body Fellow of Wolfson College. Marc's areas of expertise include market and network formation, entrepreneurship, governance, and innovation and technology strategy. His research and teaching focus on the formation of markets and networks in business and social settings. Specifically, he researches how markets are built and the actors who build them. He is also an expert in the areas of governance, innovation and technology and how they interact with markets and networks.
Dr. Ariell Ahearn is the Course Director of Oxford’s MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance. Since 2004, Ariell has worked extensively in rural Mongolia with mobile pastoralist communities around land use and rural development issues. She engages with a broad range of individuals and groups, from government officials to business owners and NGOs to rural households. Ariell's current research aims to understand the relationship between social systems, resource distribution and governance frameworks in regions undergoing economic transformation. She specializes in qualitative research, using methods such as ethnographic participant observation, interviewing, mapping and immersive field work to document and analyze the conditions that inform human decision-making and organization.
Dr. Samuel Hampton works for the Local Enterprise Partnership in Oxfordshire (OxLEP), where he supports low carbon businesses across the region. In addition to this work, he is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment, having completed his DPhil there in 2018. His academic research examines the ways in which environmental impact relates to everyday life. It begins with the idea that energy and resource consumption are bound up in social practices such as travelling to work, cooking and eating, and achieving comfort. This perspective tells us that policies designed to reduce environmental impact require an understanding of how and why social norms and behaviours become established.
Charmian Love is the Co-Founder and Chair of B Lab UK, where she supports the growth of B Corps across the UK (and beyond). She is Co-Chair of B Lab’s Global Climate Taskforce and deeply engaged in helping accelerate the transition to a more regenerative, circular and inclusive economy. She is also Entrepreneur in Residence at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and sits on the Investment Committee of the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB). Charmian is actively engaged in how we might mobilise a ‘Movement of Movements’ – connecting people and organisations who share a goal relating to the need for deep and systemic levels of change in our economy.
Chris Winchester is Chief Executive Officer of Oxford PharmaGenesis, an independent HealthScience communications consultancy and a two-time winner of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Oxford PharmaGenesis employs over 250 communications professionals in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. Chris is Chair of ISMPP, a founder of Open Pharma, and has been involved in collaborative research on the value of professional medical writing support. He has a doctorate in Biochemistry, has co-authored articles in the fields of cardiology, gastroenterology and respiratory medicine, and is an Associate Member of Green Templeton College at the University of Oxford.
Lively Worlds Network
Below are the names of just a few of our supporters and advocates who have helped us build this movement.