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More than a list: The Grand Challenges Approach and legitimate agents of social change
  • Efrosyni Konstantinou,
  • Ralf Müller
Efrosyni Konstantinou
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Ralf Müller
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In this paper we ask who is a legitimate agent of social change for Grand Challenges. To answer this question, we build on the philosophies of Hannah Arendt, Friedrich Nietzsche, Maurice Blanchot and Emmanuel Levinas on the human condition. This is important in sensitizing the project management community to the political responsibility of the project manager at times of crises and Grand Challenges, when new social orders, such as the Grand Challenges Approach (GCA), emerge and are delivered through projects. We introduce philosophers who have spoken about the human condition a) to escape definitions of legitimacy which have arisen from the very social processes and institutions which contribute to social injustices; and, b) because we all share the human condition irrespective of origin, religion, race, gender, education and life experiences, and as such it carries significant democratic potential. The philosophers tell us that an agent of social change is s/he who acts with the Other as the end goal in mind, and that legitimate is the social agent who appears in front of the watchful eye of society and fully discloses past, present and future intentions (Arendt); who can embody meaning and make decisions based on their humanity (Nietzsche); who can echo ideals which extend thought, intelligence, decisions and actions from what is already known to the creation of new spaces of action (Blanchot); and, finally, who can stand upright and engage with fellow-world-citizens in defining what is to be known, the reality of tomorrow (Levinas).