70 years of the Tavistock Institute

This is now a record of events that took place as part of ‘Reimagining Human Relations in Our Time’, a festival celebrating 70 years of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, which took place in October 2017. At the heart of the festival was the opening up of the Institute’s archive as it had been intricately and delicately catalogued at the Wellcome Library. These two things coinciding were the cause for celebration in particular their role in tackling the many societal challenges we face today: an environment at tipping point, ageing and social care, displaced people and populations, crises in faith, identity and leadership, our wellbeing at work.

We have found ourselves energised by the four days, by our interactions with a global community, by braving and experimenting much further with the integration of the arts with social science. In temporarily reorganising ourselves in service of that community we have also learned a huge amount about ourselves and the place the Tavistock Institute has in going forward to address some of the questions we set out for ourselves going forward in the next 70 years.

A subconscious and timely journey meant that our work to catalogue the Tavistock Institute’s archive ended up coinciding with the significant milestone of 70 years since the Institute’s formation.

We decided to make the archive central to the celebrations. The primary task of the festival was twofold:

  • To explore the stories of the Tavistock Institute, its forefathers and mothers and sister organisations, as well as;
  • To provide opportunities for contemporary conversations around the continued relevance and innovation of its unique approach to societal challenges today.

The festival explored these in the Tavistock spirit and tradition including inviting contributions from all over the world in the creation of a dynamic and open space.

The overriding theme for the festival was ‘Reimaging Human Relations in our Time’ and each day took on an exploratory sub-theme and an-easy-to-identify tag. The festival took place over over four days.

Day oneLetters from the new social ecology or NOW. This theme was about the world we live in. It was about research that informs emerging and evolving inter-disciplinary practice. Festival contributions under this theme looked into boundaries, culture; environment; knowledge; ecology and the relationship amongst them.

Day two Evolving practice in our informed society or HERE. This theme was about how we practise in the ‘Now’. Under this theme you will find explorations and new approaches to working in an uncertain world; our changing relations with data; what it means to evaluate in a complex world; the new cases of socio technical practice.

ThursdayIn the Shadow and Light of the Archive or THERE. This theme took a historical lens to reflect on the meaning of the Tavistock Institute’s work including the ways in which our archive contributes to organisational development practice; moving from the seminal work as shadows towards standing on the shoulders of giants.

FridayTransacting with the Future or THEN. This theme was about ongoing practice; what we give forward and who we will be working with. Here we imagined we will stepping out of the past; envisaging the future; new organisational forms and work design.

We offered a wide range of activities in exploration of the festival’s theme and sub-themes delivered across a multitude of disciplines. Included in the programme were workshops, panel discussions, performances, talks, artworks, exhibitions, films and a four day Group Relations conference.
Now that the festival is over the Arch-Live will be become a resource for the festival and Tavistock Institute community. This is where we will post recordings and other material associated with each activity. We invite you to enjoy and engage in its multitude of resources.

Juliet Scott, Festival Creative Director
Dr Eliat Aram, CEO, TIHR 

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