Above: Early career researchers at the 2019 Detroit meeting of inVIVO Planetary Health
Our mission is to transform the health of individuals, communities, and the planet through deeper understanding of the interdependence of all systems and by promoting awareness, attitudes, and actions required for meaningful, collaborative change.
Who we are: The Nova Network is an initiative of the Nova Institute for Health and welcomes anyone trying to make a difference in the world—including researchers, creatives, advocates, community organizers, educators, clinicians, policymakers, and young people, across the arts and sciences—to co-create a culture of belonging for meaningful progress.
Our agenda: We seek to underscore the connections between personal, environmental, economic, social, and spiritual health—and awareness that our current global planetary health challenges are intertwined. We promote holistic and integrated perspectives for novel solutions and values that promote cultural change.
Through these diverse activities, we seek to promote awareness, identify solutions, and inspire creativity, connectivity, and purpose.
Challenges is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed, open access journal that welcomes contributions to any problem, or any aspect of the “grand challenges” facing our world and our societies today. It addresses the pressing need to accelerate integrated cross-sectoral discourse toward collaborative solutions to improve every aspect of life on our planet. It provides a key avenue for the Nova Network to share diverse and original research, perspectives, and viewpoints, including the “Nova Interview” with leading experts from different fields.
The Nova Network encourages a culture of mutualism, trust, and authenticity to generate new opportunities through collaboration, ingenuity, and creativity for meaningful growth and shared benefits across all scales—beginning at the grassroots. We seek to normalize and place greater value on wisdom, empathy, kindness, hope, love, creativity, and respect—the deeper values that unite, empower, and refocus priorities of individuals and groups towards shared solutions.
The Nova Network was created in 2022 and is a realization of the decades-long outreach efforts of both the Nova Institute for Health and inVIVO Planetary Health. Recognizing the importance of collective actions and an expanded reach based on values, wisdom, and relationships, inVIVO Planetary Health and the Nova Institute began working closely together in 2020. The inVIVO initiative sunset in November 2022 when it became part of the Nova Network, which is directed by Susan Prescott.
In 2012, Professor Susan Prescott, MD, PhD, of the University of Western Australia, founded a new initiative that called for creative, integrated, ecological solutions for the health of all systems at all scales as a transdisciplinary response to the Worldwide Universities Network’s Global Challenges. Known as inVIVO Planetary Health, its members were among the first to provide evidence that the ecology of the early environment—including microbial diversity, nutrition, toxins, nature relatedness, social interactions, and early life adversity—has life-long and transgenerational implications for all aspects of well-being and resilience.
Healing is facilitated through safety, persistence, and trust.
Resources support us as we heal. They include reframing, responsibility, and positivity. “Making connections enabled participants to acquire and refine resources and skills that were essential in their healing journey. People also brought their own personal strengths to the journey.”
“Connection to others was an essential part of all the healing journeys.” Humans are social creatures, and even the most introverted of us need close relationships. Friends and family add meaning and value to life and help support us, in good times and bad.
When we experience relational trauma, relationships can feel scary, but reestablishing safety and trust in relationships is where the healing happens. (To be clear, we do not mean reestablishing safety and trust with abusers, but rather finding other healing relationships.)
“When safety and trust had been established, people were able to connect with helpers. The nature of the behaviours of helpers that fostered healing ranged from small acts of kindness to unconditional love.”
Healing probably means different things to different people, but one definition that emerged from the study is: “The re-establishment of a sense of integrity and wholeness.”
Healing was an emergent property that resulted from each individuals’ complex healing journey, a result of bridged connections between resources and relationships. “…they gradually found relief from suffering and began to exhibit emergent characteristics: a sense of hope, self-acceptance, and a desire to help others—the immediate precursors to healing.”
In varying degrees, “they were able to transcend their suffering and in some sense to flourish.”
Suffering is the ongoing pain from wounding.
There is debate about whether or not one actually needs to experience suffering on the path to healing.
Wounding happens when we experience physical or emotional harm. It can stem from chronic illness or by physical or psychological trauma for which we do not have the tools to cope, or a combination of those factors.
“The degree and quality of suffering experienced by each individual is framed by contextual factors that include personal characteristics, timing of their initial or ongoing wounding in the developmental life cycle and prior and current relationships.”
Characteristics: How predisposed someone may be to wounding/how many tools and resources someone may have to deal with trauma/illness.
Lifestages: Developmental timing plays an important role in the impact of trauma — young children often do not have the same resources as older adults.
Relationships: Relationships can provide solace and support for those suffering, while lack of healthy relationships can prolong suffering.