Capabilities for life - Design for Life - The RSA - RSA

Capabilities for life

Capabilities for life

A framework to nurture life-centric capabilities

Enabling individuals and collectives around the world to cultivate a worldview and capabilities that centre the wellbeing of people, places and our planet.

Education is the root of all the more specific crises such as climate change, governance breakdowns, impending war and social unrest.

Writer, educator, futurist Zachary Stein

Introducing the Capabilities for Life framework

Capabilities extend beyond our skills and knowledge. They include our inner drive to take positive action and make decisions that align with our purpose, especially as we navigate complexity. The way we see the world (through our perspectives) and the values we stand for shape our behaviours. Industries and collectives across the world are recognising these life-centric perspectives and values as more important markers of our growth than just transient role- or task-specific skills.

A life-centric curriculum and capabilities framework

Life-centric curriculum tree

The Capabilities for Life framework builds on Sir Ken Robinson’s 8Cs for human flourishing to propose the capabilities for Life flourishing. Across a spectrum from individualistic, to human-centric to life-centric, each 'C' or capability shows up in unique ways to shape an individual or collective mindset, then behaviour, then action. The intrinsic abilities of a learner are as important as the learning environment they are currently in.

So, it is not only important to strive to build capabilities like collaboration, curiosity, and courage but also to create the space and cultures to unlock reciprocity, wonder, and selflessness.

10Cs image
The Capabilities for Life framework is available to download here, under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike licence.

Explore the framework

Download a PDF of our framework to further explore the worldview shifts and capabilities.

To find out how you can get involved in shaping and growing this framework, please email: [email protected]

Why capabilities for life?

Navigating through a period of global challenges and opportunities, we need to reinstate a healthier relationship across our economy, communities and environment. We refer to this as the shift towards a ‘regenerative economy’.

To rebuild these connections, we need to move away from egocentric and individualistic thinking that focuses only on heroism, self-confidence and resilience against external forces. Instead, we must adopt mindsets and skills that prioritise the wellbeing both of humans and non-humans, fostering a more inclusive and interconnected approach to life.

In a rapidly changing landscape marked by labour market shifts, automation risks and shorter skills lifecycles, individuals across current and future generations must undergo a radical shift by unlearning and relearning a way of nurturing capabilities. Equipping ourselves to adapt to uncertainty is crucial as we innovate towards greater impact for people, places and the planet.

How the framework was developed

Throughout 2023, we convened a group of over 50 businesses, educators and thought leaders pushing the boundaries of next practice in regenerative capabilities. We also reviewed the existing literature and frameworks on the shifting landscape of skills. With our findings and through a series of co-design sessions and conversations, we shaped, iterated and tested the Capabilities for Life framework. We thank all our colleagues, Fellows and our critical friends who have contributed generously to this work.

From capabilities to curriculum

Our next step is to take this work forward, and we look to convene and collaborate with a Capabilities for life faculty comprised of our expert Fellows. Together, we will review the learning journeys the RSA has been hosting and the wealth of open-source learning resources already out in the world. We will be prototyping and piloting three engaging and inclusive life-centric learning journeys rooted in our capabilities to test on the RSA’s Design for Life Awards.

Shape our evolving curriculum

Are you a Fellow eager to transform the way capabilities are taught? Do you want to emphasise aligning individuals with the needs of people and the planet? Join our Capabilities for Life faculty in 2024.

Share your knowledge

Have you crafted or do you know of any open-source learning tools, games, workshops, videos or other resources that could help learners nurture Capabilities for Life? Help us curate a collection of learning content that will shape our evolving curriculum. All contributions will be credited.

Join the Fellowship

The collaborative faculty is open to all Fellows. Not yet an FRSA? Be part of our inspiring global community.

Help us build capabilities for life

We can only identify the capabilities to regenerate the economy with the help of our Fellowship. Contribute to a future vision of the business workforce by joining our dedicated community on Circle.

Read blogs and articles relating to our Capabilities for life intervention

  • Capability building in the age of polycrisis

    Blog

    Andy Thornton

    Our Regenerative capabilities coalition is a key intervention of our Design for Life mission. Andy Thornton, our Head of Regenerative Design, says we need to invest in capabilities to support the transition to a regenerative economy.

  • Shifting towards a life-centric business

    Blog

    Jahnvi Singh Alessandra Tombazzi

    In the second of a two-part series, we highlight how the RSA is exploring what it means to bend the arc of workforce capabilities towards a regenerative economy.

  • Enabling business regeneration

    Blog

    Andy Thornton Jahnvi Singh

    Nurturing the right workforce capabilities is critical for businesses to build their capacity to purposefully transform, adapt and respond positively to a complex world.

  • Six perspectives towards a life-centric mindset

    Blog

    Joanna Choukeir Roberta Iley

    Joanna Choukeir and Roberta Iley present the six Design for Life perspectives that define the life-centric approach to our mission-led work.

Related Capabilities of life content

  • Capability building in the age of polycrisis

    Blog

    Andy Thornton

    Our Regenerative capabilities coalition is a key intervention of our Design for Life mission. Andy Thornton, our Head of Regenerative Design, says we need to invest in capabilities to support the transition to a regenerative economy.

  • Good stewards

    Comment

    Andy Thornton

    Andy Thornton discusses how we can see the forest for the trees when it comes to nurturing regenerative business.