ICS Seminar Series - Romand Coles

Date: Thursday 12 October 2017
Time: 11.30am–1pm
Venue: EB.G.02, Western Sydney University, Parramatta South campus

Romand Coles

(Institute for Social Justice, Australian Catholic University)

Visionary Pragmatism: the Powers of Receptivity, Action Research, and the Publicness of Higher Education in the Dark Times


While radical politics is often depicted with the image of a person shouting into a bullhorn, Coles argues that our receptivity to other humans and nonhuman beings is not only ethically vital but politically one of the most powerful political arts for radical transformation. This presentation theorizes political receptivity through several lenses that Coles and others have employed in an extensive action research movement for radical and ecological democracy in Northern Arizona. How we might we receptively resonate with each other from the level of mirror neurons through social media? How might we cultivate receptive circulations of people, beings, and material goods to reconstitute the world? How might we employ complex system dynamics to enhance receptivity? How might we re-conceive of large-scale political actions so they become dramatic enactments of powerful receptivity? Moving back and forth between theory and action research initiatives involving thousands of people, Coles suggests that higher education can become a pivotal space for generating publics that can revitalize radical democracy and planetary ecological resilience.


Romand Coles is a Research Professor of Political Theory and Practice at the Institute for Social Justice at Australian Catholic University in Sydney. He is the author many books and essays, including Visionary Pragmatism: Radical and Ecological Democracy in Neoliberal Times; Beyond Gated Politics: Reflections for the Possibility of Democracy; Radical Future Pasts: Untimely Political Theory (co-edited with Mark Reinhardt and George Shulman); Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary: Conversations between a Radical Democrat and a Christian (with Stanley Hauerwas); Rethinking Generosity: Critical Theory and the Politics of Caritas; and Self/Power/Other: Political Theory and Dialogical Ethics. He is currently completing two book manuscripts: This Machine Fights Fascism (with Lia Haro) and Revolutionary Salvage Amidst the Ruins of Higher Education (with Blase Scarnati).