Autumn garden with an artificial urban lake

An increasingly influential stream of research demonstrates the integration of cognition and emotion in political decision-making, indicating the importance of narratives in building shared visions. Therefore, a key pillar of the work of Re-Imagine Europa is focused on developing stories and images that can engage people and posit old problems in a new light, to build much-needed shared visions. This is the basis of Re-Imagine Europa’s narrative approach to understanding and building consensus on polarised issues.

Re-Imagine Europa aims to de-polarise issues of strategic importance to Europe and build inclusive and constructive visions for the future.  Informed by insights from leading researchers working in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, cognitive science and the social sciences, we perform critical analysis of assumptions underlying attitudes towards divisive issues. This is the basis of Re-Imagine Europa’s narrative approach to understanding and building consensus on key topics.

For each of our three thematic areas, we build task forces by engaging a committee of experts from academia, think tanks, industry, NGOs, CSOs, and other stakeholders. Activities include research, high-level expert roundtables, conferences, advocacy, engagement campaigns and publications. You can learn more about our task forces by following visiting our Areas section.


Narratives approach

Facts matter. The scientific process can be described as the quest to establish facts and uncover the how and why of reality, independent of the beliefs and values of human beings. But the simple truth is that facts do not speak for themselves.

There is too much information in the world to process all at once. Humans have always used symbols, metaphors, and stories to help communicate ideas and navigate reality, focusing on details that we think are relevant to us.

Shared symbols and stories foster shared identity and guide shared action.  Similar stories can be woven together to form a broad narrative that usually represents an ongoing process.

Narratives are convenient as they render a complex issue more accessible. They do this by combining certain facts in a process known as ‘framing’, using structures familiar to us like purpose and intent. What’s more, they contain implicit arguments that appeal to important human values as a motivation for action (or inaction) on a given issue.

Understanding narratives is thus the key to both understanding ourselves and others and building shared solutions to our problems.

Re-Imagine Europa’s narrative approach to problems generally involves

  1. mapping the various ways in which contentious issues are framed
  2. identifying the common features (structures, symbols, iconography, community) used to build broader narratives
  3. deconstructing narratives along the axes of identity and structural frame to determine the values to which they appeal
  4. determining underlying concerns shared across narratives
  5. reformulating issues along more inclusive and evidence-informed lines