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Changing perception for system change

"As our new century unfolds, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the major problems of our time — whether economic, environmental, technological, social or political — are systemic problems that cannot be solved within the current fragmented and reductionist framework of our academic disciplines and social institutions. We need a radical shift in our perceptions, thinking, and values." — Fritjof Capra

"The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think" — Gregory Bateson

Global Vision Foundation is an international public interest non-profit tax-exempt organisation founded by the Irish information-artist Michael O'Callaghan in Geneva in 2012. The Foundation's accounts are independently audited, and our work is supervised by the Swiss Confederation.

We are interested in the politics of perception and the emergent global civil society consensus for system change, because as Confucius said, "when people share a common goal, their natural tendency is to co-operate in realising it."

We see the global crisis as a cognitive, cultural, artistic challenge. We imagine, design, develop and produce concepts, films, videos, sculptures, software applications, models, texts, workshops, seminars, conferences, campaigns and information-art products intended to catalyse the psycho-social process of world-view transformation. We conceive all our works as trans-disciplinary contexts of information or situations that focus attention on the pattern that connects global problems and solutions to each other and to our own ways of seeing them and discussing them.

This "outside the box" information-art strategy is informed by 43 years' engagement in major global issues, in participation and collaboration with a trans-disciplinary network of Nobel laureates, UN agencies, NGOs, universities, institutes, scientists, leading thinkers and artists around the world.

Note that we are not a grant-making organisation, so don't apply to us for funding. Please explore this website for more information about our past, present and future projects.

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The Politics of Perception

A multi-stakeholder conference for system change • Geneva 2016

Tower of Babel

The politics of perception is an international multi-stakeholder conference for system change which Global Vision Foundation is planning to organise for Geneva in 2016 or 2017. Co-chaired by Nora Bateson and Michael O'Callaghan, the event will take an in-depth look at the pattern that connects the global crisis and our ways of seeing it. It involves an artistic, cognitive design process to provide strategic global stakeholders from Geneva and the world (governments, UN agencies, NGOs, media organisations, academic institutions and TNCs including banks, hedge funds, and commodity traders) with an immersive experience of the emergent paradigm-shift beyond the obsolete ideas and conflicts of interest that block the system change for a sustainable future. We are inviting a world-class lineup of visionary speakers and are now looking for seed money to complete the design of the event prior to offering if for sponsorship.

Nora Bateson on the role of perception in governance

Keynote speech at the Rhone Economic Forum 2015

Nora Bateson gave this keynote speech on the theme of perception in governance at the Rhone Economic Forum 2015, which we co-sponsored and helped organise at the Graduate Institute Geneva in Sept 2015 (see below). Apart from the 1st minute (in French with English subtitles), the video is in English.

Governance in all its forms

A conference at the Graduate Institute Geneva

Maison de la Paix

In September 2015 we co-sponsored and helped organise the 15th annual Rhone Economic Forum (Forum Economique Rhodanien) in the Maison de la Paix at the Graduate Institute Geneva, for stakeholders from the Rhone river basin in France and Switzerland to discuss the topic of "Governance in all its forms". The conference was opened by the former President of the State Council of Geneva Dominique Föllmi, and included presentations by the former French Minister of Culture Luc Ferry; our Director Michael O'Callaghan; the President of our board of trustees Prof. Charles Méla (who is also the President of the European Centre of Culture); and two members of our board of advisers: Guillaume Chenevière (President of the Media and Society Foundation), and Nora Bateson (President of the International Bateson Institute), who gave a keynote speech on the role of perception in governance (see video), followed by a screening of her film An Ecology of Mind (see below). A follow-up video report on the conference is available here (in French)

An Ecology of Mind

Screening of the documentary film portrait of Gregory Bateson

An Ecology of Mind is a portrait of the late great anthropologist Gregory Bateson - one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century, who said "The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think", and who greatly inspired the Global Vision Project. We screened this award-winning documentary, produced and directed by his daughter Nora Bateson, at the Rhone Economic Forum on "Governance in all its forms" (see above) in Geneva in September 2015. We highly recommend this film! Watch the trailer above, and get the DVD.

Time for change

The Dalai Lama's message for the new millennium

We filmed this exclusive interview with Tenzin Gyatso, the IVth Dalai Lama, in New Delhi a few weeks before the dawn of the 21st century, to share his views on war, military budgets, non-violence, mutual trust, the environment, corporate social responsibility, religious pluralism, secular ethics, and our personal responsibility for the future.

Castle in Tuscany

A cultural centre for worldview transformation
Castle in Tuscany

This 1000-year old castle in Tuscany is the site we have selected to set up a world-class cultural centre for worldview transformation. It is spectacularly situated on an isolated hilltop surrounded by olive groves, vineyards and forest. The project involves the acquisition and sensitive architectural renovation and reconstruction of this gem of medieval vernacular architecture to create a convivial learning, culture and communication space for seminars, workshops, conferences, open space discussions and media production related to the process of system change.

Upon completion, the centre will have a capacity for 132 conference participants, accomodation for 65 guests, 6 staff homes, slow food gastronomy, gardens, and various charming indoor and outdoor spaces for concerts, artistic happenings and gatherings. Target audiences include students, policy makers and leaders from the private sector, governments, international agencies and global civil society organisations. We have completed a feasibility study including architectural design and business plan. We are now looking for a discrete philanthropic donor to empower us to make it happen.

Population Explosion

Electronic time sculpture

Population Explosion

Conceptual design: Population Explosion is a proposed scalable electronic time sculpture displaying the past 500 years of human population growth in a repeating 60 second cycle on a Dymaxion world map that accurately represents the relative sizes of the continents (unlike all other kinds of 2D maps). Starting with just a few points of light, the map will illuminate itself slowly at first, accelerating to a climax representing the population explosion now underway. The data display will make it easy to understand the significance of the fact that 4.5% of humankind lives in the USA, 10% in Europe, while the vast majority lives in Asia, Africa and South America. Bronze, LEDs, microchip, data, and one minute of your time.

Be the change!

A documentary film

Be the change!

Be the Change! is a documentary film shot by Michael O'Callaghan with 1,000 teenagers from 180 countries at the World Congress of Youth in Morocco in 2003. The event was hosted by King Mohammed VI and organised by Peace Child International, a youth-led network of 1,500 groups of teenagers around the world who take responsibility for peace, human rights and the environment through education, leadership development and direct participation in the events that shape their future. They are inspired by Gandhi's motto "You have to be the change you want to see in the world".

Half of humankind is now under the age of 20. These young people face a frightening legacy from the older half, including rapid climate change, social inequity, resource depletion, fundamentalism, mass migration and war. This film documents the optimism and bravery of young people who understand the situation and want to make a difference. It was shot on location during a week of conferencing about the role of youth in implementing the UN Millennium Development Goals, and a week of participation in 100 sustainable development action projects in various urban centres and rural locations including remote Berber villages in the Anti-Atlas mountains. We have completed a rough-cut which needs final editing for TV and online distribution.

International Institute of Astroarchaeology

A project proposal

Map of astronomical alignments in the Boyne Valley

The International Institute of Astroarchaeology is a proposed organisation that Global Vision Foundation would like to set up in Ireland. Its mission is to research, understand and inform the public about the astronomical, anthropological and artistic aspects of ancient megalithic artworks dating from the mesolithic and neolithic periods in Ireland and other locations around the world, so as to conserve and transmit this legacy for future generations.

Ireland's megalithic artworks and landscapes include the world's oldest known buildings and astronomical observatories - chambered passage mounds, dolmens, stone circles, standing stones and petroglyphs aligned to the sun, moon and stars on astronomically significant dates. Built by pre-Indoeuropean stone age indigenous people as far back as 4,800 BCE, these proto-scientific instruments seem to have first enabled humans to synchronise the sun and moon cycles - millennia before the great urban civilisations of Mesopotamia, Greece, India, China, Egypt and Central America - with revolutionary implications for accepted notions about the origins of the scientific method.

Many Irish megalithic sites from the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods - such as Newgrange and other monuments in the Boyne Valley UNESCO World Heritage site shown on our map above - include monuments, passages, petroglyphs, and gnomons aligned to locally visible positions of the sun, moon and stars at Solstices, Equinoxes and other astronomically significant dates. The oldest of them were built by the pre-Celtic Tuatha Dé Danaan - People of the Goddess Danu.

Having survived millennia, these Irish monuments are now being damaged for the sake of tourist dollars by archaeological experts who deny or downplay their astronomical design features and occasionally damage them during "renovation" work. The most famous example of such unintended vandalism occured in 2000 in the Boyne Valley complex at the 5,500 year-old great chambered passage mound at Knowth - Europe's most richly decorated and one of the largest chambered passage mounds surviving from Neolithic times, which the Guardian newspaper described as being of "immense historical significance." The "restoration" of this cairn included blocking its 36-meter Eastern passage with a slab of concrete, which not only sabotaged the architectural, artistic and astronomical integrity of the monument, but also precluded further scientific observation and research on the illumination of the passage by the sunbeam which would otherwise enter it at dawn around the Spring Equinox.

We have a detailed proposal for this project including a research agenda and methodology. More

Global civil society consensus 2002

A documentary film


We shot this film at Rio+10 - the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002. It features in-depth interviews with 25 international NGO leaders, constituting a historical snapshot of both the failure of the U.N. member mtates to implement the Rio agreements a decade after they were signed by 110 heads of state, and of the range of solutions that still wait to be implemented. The series documents one of the first expressions of the emerging global civil society consensus that (1) another world is possible, (2) most governments are failing to implement solutions before it is too late, (3) time is running out and (4) you have to be the change you want to see in the world! To be edited. See interview transcripts.

A plea for global education

Interview with Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Rigoberta Menchu

A plea for global education is an interview of Rigoberta Menchú Tum that we shot in New York in 1993, a year after she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She is a Quichι (Maya) human rights activist from Guatemala and the author of I, Rigoberta Menchϊ (London & New York: Verso, 1984). After fleeing the CIA-backed death squad atrocities of her native country, she became an eloquent defender of indigenous peoples and other victims of government oppression around the world. She was the official spokesperson for the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Peoples (1994-2003). In this eloquent interview, she said "Solutions will come when the world becomes educated about global values: the common values of its inhabitants and communities." Needs editing prior to release. Transcript

The GM-free Ireland campaign

A biosafety reserve for Europe

GM-free Ireland stamp

Global Vision founded the GM-free Ireland Network in 2004 as a multi-stakeholder coalition collaborating to keep the island of Ireland free of genetically modified seeds, crops, trees, fish, livestock, animal feed and food. This network quickly grew to include the largest number and diversity of stakeholders of any NGO on the island, with 130 institutional members and 19 local authorities representing over 1 million citizens. On Earth Day 2005 we declared 1,000 GMO-free zones on the island of Ireland. In 2006 we hosted the Green Ireland conference on GM-free branding for food, farming and eco-tourism, and also forced BASF to abandon its experimental release of 250,000 GMO potatoes on a farm in Co. Meath, after it received government approval for the field trial to go ahead, despite massive opposition from stakeholders. In 2007 we collaborated with Greenpeace International to shut down EU imports of US animal feed contaminated with unapproved GM maize entering the EU through Ireland, after we discovered a ship from the USA unloading tonnes of the illegal cargo in Dublin.

Michael O'Callaghan launched our initiative Ireland as GMO-free Biosafety Reserve for Europe at Food and Democracy (the 5th European Conference on GMO-Free Regions) in April 2009 in Lucern, Switzerland, to safeguard Europe's agricultural biodiversity, food safety and food security for future generations. In October 2009 we persuaded Ireland's newly-elected Fianna Fáil-Green party coalition government to agree our policy to (a) ban field trials and cultivation of all GM crops in the Republic, and (b) introduce a voluntary GM-free label for food (including animal produce) produced without the use of GMOs. We then held a press conference with Irish food and farm leaders on GM-free food production: a unique selling point for Ireland - the food island. However that government failed to implement the policy with legislation because the Fianna Fáil majority in the cabinet never had any intention of doing so. The subsequent government officially reversed the previous GM-free poiicy, and allowed a field trial of GMO potatoes in 2012.

We suspended the GM-free Ireland website in 2013 because of limited resources, but we continue this campaign with daily updates on FaceBook and occasional alerts on Twitter.

In 2015, the UK regions of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales joined 19 other EU member states which "opted out" of the cultivation of GM crops in their territories, but the Republic of Ireland failed to do so. Although the entire island of Ireland still remains free of the commercial cultivation of GMO crops, most of Ireland's non-organic cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and farmed fish are produced with imported GM animal feed laden with toxic pesticides and herbicides residues, including glyphosate which is classified by the WHO as a probable carcinogen.

Lawrence Durrell quote

Sustainability: the Best Investment

A multimedia curriculum for the global teenager


Sustainabillity: The Best Investment is a proposed film and multi-media package designed as the world's first global curriculum on solutions to world problems, aimed at the global teenager. We developed the project with funding from UNICEF, UNDP, UNEP, UNFPA, WHO and UNESCO in 2000. The package would include a 54-minute documentary film and 20 TV spots with a celebrity line-up of world leaders and stars from the movie, music and fashion industries; 13 x 12-min. videos; a DVD; a 240-page book and an interactive web site. A good idea in need of implementation!

Imagine Peace

A seminar and documentary film for young people in Israel and Palestine


Imagine Peace is a proposed trans-disciplinary learning experience for young people from Israel and Palestine to meet with leading thinkers for in-depth trans-disciplinary whole system exploration and creative thinking about bringing peace to this geo-strategic conflict zone. We intend to hold the event in a castle in Tuscany, and make it into a TV documentary. Now in development.

Science & The Sacred

A learning programme

starry night

Science & the Sacred is a trans-disciplinary learning programme designed to integrate the views of biology, neuroscience, consciousness research and spiritual traditions to foster the emergent global vision of the identity of Humankind, our perception of each other, and our place in the universe. The programme will include informal private meetings, expert workshops, seminars, conferences, graduate research, and faculty training. The target audience includeds influential individuals from the field of science and religion, corporate and government policy makers, academics and students. The principal aims are to heal the false epistemology which claims monopoly on truth, and to address the systemic causes of religious, scientific, economic and political fundamentalism in the context of psychology, history and globalisation.

Faculty will include world-class teachers in comparative religion and mythology, anthropology, cultural history, psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience, epistemology, biology, astronomy, quantum physics and international affairs. Funding proposal.

Sustainable City

Urban management software

Sustainable City

Conceptual design: Sustainable City is a proposed GIS (geographic information systems) software is designed for any town or city to see itself - and its surrounding environment - as a whole system, measure its ecological footprint, carry out scenario planning, build resilience for climate change, and manage its transition to sustainability. Nominated as a best corporate practice at the World Business Forum on Enterprise, the City, and Sustainable Development, Istanbul, 1996. Funding proposal.

Global Vision

A collective self-portrait of humankind and the biosphere

"I want to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race." – James Joyce

Global Vision Movie

Global Vision is an impressionistic musical feature film conceived as a collective self-portrait of Humankind and the biosphere ­ a concept without precedent in art or motion picture history. It will also be the first feature film to be collectively designed by its own audience on the web.

The content will form a mythopoeic sales pitch for a sustainable civilisation, and an artistic attempt to express our human identity at the dawn of the global age, in an inspiring way that is meaningful for the global public. Looking at the pattern that connects humankind, the biosphere, technology, and the collective unconscious, the film is also a metaphor about the connection between the world situation and one's own way of seeing. This film is thus an artistic attempt to focus the viewer's attention on the process of one's own perception, and evoke the pattern that connects the world situation to our way of seeing it. Now in development.

Image Resonance

Editing software for a new genre of cinema


Image Resonance is a revolutionary music-driven film- and video-editing system conceived by Michael O'Callaghan for his Global Vision feature film (see above). The aim is to create a new cinematic language that is isomorphic with the way the mind thinks. It will make possible a completely new kind of cinema - as different as impressionism was from renaissance painting or as classical music from jazz - and able to transmit very high information content without overloading the mind's eye. In development.

Origin of the Global Vision project

Nial Du's Grave

Michael O'Callaghan conceived the Global Vision project in Ireland during an astro-archaeological field trip to an ancient megalithic artwork on the summit of Tibradden in the Dublin Mountains, on the Summer Solstice 1972.

This ruined chambered passage cairn probably dates from the Neolithic period between 4000 and 3000 BCE. Thousands of years after its construction, the passage still remains aligned to the position of the sun's first appearance as it rises, beyond Dublin Bay, over the horizon of the Irish Sea.

The cairn is known locally as Niall Dubh's grave, and is mentioned by Robert Graves in his book The White Goddess, and by Samuel Beckett who often visited the site. Nial Du is also mentioned by James Joyce in his Finnegans Wake. According to Irish mythology, these kinds of megalithic monuments were built by the pre-Indoeuropean Tuatha Dé Danann - the people of the Goddess Danu, famed for their numerous astronomically designed artworks which adorn the Irish landscape.

Michael has described his visit to Tibradden in his forthcoming book, When the Dream Becomes Real: Visions of apocalypse in mythology, madness and the future. His experience of this neolithic sunrise inspired his concept of information-art and the idea of the Global Vision project as a "context of information" or situation that focusses the observer's attention in a particular way.

He sees only the twisting of the path
and the winding of the stream;

he doesn't know that he is already
in the Land of the Immortals.



The Global Vision Project has been funded and/or supported over the years by UNICEF • WHO • UNDP • UNEP • UNESCO • UNDPI • UNFPA • UNCHS • UNHCHR • The Club of Rome • MIT System Dynamics Group • WWF International • IUCN - World Conservation Union • IISD - International Institute for Sustainable Development • Earth Day International • Greenpeace International • Peace Child International • International Transpersonal Association • European Centre of Culture • International Bateson Institute • Media & Society Foundation • Biosynergy Foundation • European Broadcasting Union • European Network of GMO-free Regions • GM Watch • EcoNexus • GENET • Friends of the Earth Europe • Megacities Project • World Game Institute • European Parliament Independence / Democracy Group • Government of Ireland • Harvard University Cronkite Graduate Centre • Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School of International Studies • Columbia University Sustainable Development Initiative • University of British Columbia School of Community & Regional Planning • University of Virginia School of Architecture • New School University (NYC) • Schumacher College • Sustainable London Trust • An Taisce - the National Trust for Ireland • Irish Cattle & Sheepfarmers Association • Irish Doctors Environmental Association • Irish Organic Farmers & Growers Association • The Organic Trust • GM-free Ireland Network • Genetic ID • IMCOPA • Euro-Toques • Slow Food International • JOL Global Park Qatar • Mystic Fire Video • WETV • Television Trust for the Environment • Millbank, Tweed, Hadley & McLoy • Clifford Chance Plc • Sun Microsystems • Apple Computer • Michael O'Callaghan • Seαn Mac Bride • R. Buckminster Fuller • Robert A. Smith III • Hazel Henderson • Donnella Meadows • Medard Gabel • Danny Goldberg • R.D. Laing • Michael Shrieve • Hilary Harris • Sheldon Rochlin • Maxine Harris • Brian Kelly • Kim and Gloria Richarson • Alan Richardson • Tim Nimmo • Nick Frye • Osvaldo Righi • Alain Wuscher • John Weir Perry • Roshi Joan Halifax • Stan Grof • Margaret Lloyd • Marcello Palazzi • William A. McDonough • Pamela Lippe • Janice E. Perlman • Herbert Girardet • William E. Rees • Robert A.F. Thurman • David A. Woolcombe • Danny Schechter • Ariane Braillard • Mary and Richard Kaplan • Maurice and Hanna Strong • Achim Steiner • Jane Goodall • Vandana Shiva • Rigoberta Menchϊ Tum • Richard Falk • The Hon. Desmond Guinness • Gordon Campbell • The Hon. Garech a Brün • Serge Macia • Vanessa de Thorpe • Isabelle Derigo • Adine Gavazzi • Charles Méla • Guillaume Chenevière • Nora Bateson • Jakob von Uexkull • the IVth Dalai Lama • Robert Rauschenberg • Peter Gabriel • Bernardo Bertolucci • Martin Scorsese.