Grounded In Evidence

What feels good is not necessarily always good for us. To quote our CEO, John, ‘my commitment to dark chocolate, Tim Tams with a cuppa, regularly indulging in a glass of wine with cheese before the nightly meal and staying up late to binge on the latest Netflix series, all feel wonderful, at least in the short term. But as my GP can testify, Netflix aside, the rest of it is better in moderation, if at all. It helps to pay attention to more than just the way we feel about things and that’s why anyone with half a brain, tends to pay attention to the science.

At ProActive we have decades long relationships with researchers, thinkers and writers in reputable institutions across the globe. Our work has been strongly informed by the social sciences and we’ve developed close relationships and been profoundly influenced by the work of some extraordinary thinkers. We include the following:

Clifford Shearing, who has and continues to challenge our understanding of the notions of security and safety, both in the institutions we typically look to for reassurance, and in emerging harmscapes being experienced through climate change and cybernetics as it relates to the digital world. Clifford has an exceptional ability to understand life from a unique perspective and is instrumental in helping us reframe the way we understand our work and the challenges our clients face. ProActive is currently working with Clifford and his colleague Benoît Dupont as part of our Evolving Securities Initiative by facilitating meetings of the Resilience Lab, a group of researchers from different parts of the world focussing on the new harms that accompany climate change and human centred cybersecurity.

  John Braithwaite, the author of the ground-breaking work Crime, Shame and Reintegration. John was influential in providing us with a sociological theoretical framework for how we understood and developed our conflict transformation work. He continues to contribute to our thinking around approaches to regulation and compliance in the community and the workplace.

  Heather Strang, is the Director of the Jerry Lee Centre of Experimental Criminology, the Director of Studies in the Cambridge Police Executive Programme at the Institute of Criminology, and was for ten years the Director of the Centre for Restorative Justice at the Australian National University. Heather is an Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland and in 2014 was appointed a Senior Fellow of the Cambridge Centre for Evidence-Based Policing. She is also the Academic Editor of the Cambridge Journal of Evidence-Based Policing and has for many years supported our interest in experimenting to make the world a better place.

Lawrence Sherman, the world’s foremost experimental criminologist, who together with Heather Strang, John Braithwaite and an exceptional team of researchers from different jurisdictions, led numerous Randomised Controlled Trials on our work in the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK and currently Denmark. The most notable for these projects being the 12 Randomised Controlled Trials across both Australia and the UK over a ten-year period, measuring the efficacy of our approach when compared to the traditional court approach. These results came down strongly in favour of our work.

  Sylvan Tomkins, is the architect of Affect Theory and Script Theory, that helped us appreciate the complexity of the human experience and the importance of affects, feelings, emotions and moods in motivating us to act. His two volume work Affect, Imagery, Consciousness is an extraordinary work and though complex is well worth exploring. We were introduced to Tomkins work by another academic and practitioner (next), Lauren Abramson.

  Lauren Abramson, who started Restorative Response Baltimore and has left an amazing legacy in that community and beyond. ProActive has not worked with Lauren for many years, yet she remains influential in how we go about our work.

  Dan Curran, Professor Emeritus, University of Dayton, Ohio. Dan was the President of  UoD for nearly two decades and has worked closely with ProActive since his days as the Vice-President Academic Affairs at St Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Dan has been a regular contributor to our thinking and practice. He introduced us to UoD’s China Institute in Suzhou where ProActive has associate status.

Dave Fushtey with his exceptional work on governance and his astonishing book, The Director and the Manager: Law and Governance in a Digital Age: Machiavelli had it Easy. Sadly Dave died in 2019 and here we quote from his obituary: ‘Dave believed that the how and why of governance systems link the human condition and the rule-of-law in the digital age and Machiavelli had it Easy is a celebration of years of thinking, researching, writing, editing and compilation’. Dave did a short stint as a member of the ProActive team in 2018/2019.

David Williamson, the most successful playwright in the history of Australian theatre, has for over fifty years written extraordinarily popular satirical comedies on the Australian experience. Not content with writing plays that covered every genre of playwriting, he invented his own genre with his Jack Manning Trilogy of Conferencing plays, based entirely on ProActive’s work, that break every rule of what is commonly accepted as the art of good playwriting. They start off at the climatic point and build down into a resolve, breaking all the rules, but with such powerful results (see link above). In her biography of David, Kristin Williamson notes that ‘… his conferencing trilogy, Face to Face, A Conversation and Charitable Intent, became his most critically admired work since the 1970s’. It’s perhaps unnecessary to point out that David and Kristin remain ProActive favourites and the plays and subsequent films have given us a deep and ongoing appreciation of the power of live theatre, film, and the arts generally.