Rebecca Freeth

Rebecca Freeth

Affiliate Scholar

Prior to joining IASS as a fellow, I completed my doctoral research at Leuphana University, Germany, where I conducted formative accompanying research (FAR) in a collaborative interdisciplinary research team. My research aim was to learn more about experiences of collaborative interdisciplinary research while also progressing the FAR methodology. During this time, I focused on positionality and relationality aspects of being a member of a team while studying the team, as well as on questions of collaborative capacity. In my articles, I write about learning to collaborate while collaborating, about using different forms of dialogue to address the inevitable paradoxes and tensions that arise in interdisciplinary research teams, and about how to leverage meaningful change in how we do sustainability research.

Before embarking on my PhD, I worked for 12 years in my home country of South Africa as a dialogue facilitator, organisational development practitioner and writer. As a senior consultant with Reos Partners, I facilitated multiple collaborations between civil society, business, academia and government to tackle national issues demanding their collective attention and action. This included long-term work on the future of the food system and land reform in South Africa. The facilitation methodologies I draw on include the U Process, Social Labs, Transformative Scenario Processes and Deep Democracy.

I teach courses on facilitation, deep democracy, systems thinking for social change, and scenario planning. At Leuphana University, I also taught Bachelors and Masters courses in participatory research and narrative methods.

I bring a developmental approach to facilitation, teaching and research, specialising in experiential learning and process work. Attention to power and the dynamics of change are intrinsic to this work.

  • 2016-2019: Doctoral research, Leuphana University, Germany
  • 2009-2015: Facilitation and design of multi-stakeholder collaborations, Reos Partners (
  • 2003-2009: Facilitation of organisational development processes among NGOs and grant-makers, including monitoring and evaluation, training and strategy work (self-employed)
  • 2001-2003: Social worker / care manager (UK)
  • 1998-2001: Provincial co-ordinator, Western Cape Network on Violence Against Women
  • 1996-1998: Bursary advisor, Catholic Educational Aid Programme
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Experiential learning
  • Dialogue
  • Power and privilege
  • Sustainable futures
  • Deep democracy

Publikationen vor der Tätigkeit am IASS

  • Freeth R (2019) Burning to be understood. In: Dark Mountain Issue 15 - In the age of fire. Southwold, Suffolk: Dark Mountain Project, pp. 131-138.
  • Freeth R and Caniglia G (2019) Learning to collaborate while collaborating : advancing interdisciplinary sustainability research. Sustainability Science. Springer Japan. DOI: 10.1007/s11625-019-00701-z.
  • Freeth R, Clarke EA and Fam D (2019) Engaging creatively with tension in collaborative research: Harnessing the "I" and "we" through dialogue. In: Brown VA, Harris JA, and Waltner-Toews D (eds.) Independent thinking in an uncertain world: A mind of one's own. London: Routledge.
  • Ives CD, Freeth R and Fischer J (2019) Inside-out sustainability: The neglect of inner worlds. Ambio. Springer Netherlands. DOI: 10.1007/s13280-019-01187-w.
  • Freeth R and Drimie S (2016) Participatory Scenario Planning: From Scenario 'Stakeholders' to Scenario 'Owners.' Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 58(4): 32-43. DOI: 10.1080/00139157.2016.1186441.
  • Freeth R and Annecke E (2016) Facilitating Social Change. In: Swilling M, Kaviti Musango J, and Wakeford J (eds.) Greening the South African Economy: Scoping the issues, challenges and opportunities. Cape Town: UCT Press, pp. 381-393. Available at: