In this interview, meet Irmin Durand, Head of Impact at AIME and Edward Stevenette, Education Programme Manager at the Learning Planet Institute.

Irmin, can you share with us the history of AIME, how and where it all started?

AIME is a global network of unlikely connections for a healthier, more joyful, kinder, fairer world. 

In 2004, AIME founder Jack Manning Bancroft sketched an idea of a social network for good, one that connected university students as mentors with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students in Australia, to lead to educational equity, exchanges of worth and value, and for the mentors a deeper connection to a different lived experience.

In 2005, it commenced and scaled at pace around Australia, engaging over 25,000 Indigenous high school students who closed a 40% education outcome gap, with over 5,000 university students volunteering their time and energy to make AIME the largest ongoing volunteer movement of university students in Australian history.

As our work grew around Australia, we realised the largest challenge to inequity was not limited by national borders; it was all interlinked, it was how we saw each other, how we saw people outside the margins, how we valued exchange and the amount of the pie there was to go around globally.

In 2016, we expanded our work across the globe, and in 2020, created our own TV network, radio show and a free online university–all based around imagination and unlikely connections.

Through these pathways, we work on building bridges between young people and the people in control of many of the friction points where change has not yet occurred but is possible–in mass cultural storytelling, in employment, in boardrooms, in the shape of the economy.

We are in the process of bringing all of this work into an online world called IMAGI-NATION, a digital nation where everyone has a seat at the table, and where we are all invited to make an unlikely connection and help build a fairer world.

Irmin, how is ‘imagination’ central to everything you do at AIME?

Imagination is key to how we as humans build new and unlikely connections to start rewiring relationships around the world to build a fairer world. Imagination is central to everything we do: from IMAGI-NATION {University} where we train people to use imagination to drive meaningful change in their community; to our IMAGI-NATION {Factory} where imagination and mentoring help shift mindsets and unlock agency; to IMAGI-NATION {TV} where we curate unlikely connections between people from all walks of life to generate thinking for solving the challenges of tomorrow; to the Imagination Circle we’ve launched with LearningPlanet to centre imagination in every classroom.

Fun fact: one of our Professors at IMAGI-NATION {University} has written a cookbook with 14 ingredients that go into bringing imagination to life with tips for training our imagination muscle to make it stronger. And Professor Hope wants to know what other ingredients people around the world would put into imagination. So please do get in touch with him.

Edward, AIME and LearningPlanet have co-designed sessions for the LearningPlanet Festival. Can you share some details with us?

After a co-design phase we are excited to have IMAGI-NATION {TV} specials on 4 days of the LearningPlanet Festival to hear from communities around the world using imagination to rethink the challenges of our time. 

Wednesday 25 January  09:00 CET

IMAGI-NATION {TV} – Education at the Margins 

In this first Imagination TV episode of the Festival, you may hear how despite the many barriers put up, inspiring initiatives are imagining solutions to provide access to learning, notably  for refugees. 

Thursday 26 Jan, 09:00 CET

IMAGI-NATION {TV} : Nonviolence, Peacebuilding
Join a selection of inspiring voices, who, in the middle of conflict, seek imaginative educational solutions. Hear their ideas and testimonies of using such imaginative thinking to strive for peace as individuals, and in their communities.

Friday 27 Jan, 09:00 CET

IMAGI-NATION {TV}: Bringing together Wisdom traditions & Science in the IMAGI-NATION 

We will discuss wisdom and indigenious systems, creating meaningful connections between them to explore the approaches on different branches of science for change in the community.

Saturday 28 Jan, 09:00 CET

IMAGI-NATION {TV} : Imagination in the Classroom

Our closing session will take place on the day dedicated to ‘Planetizens take the stage’:teachers will share tools, resources and curriculums for building imagination in the classroom.

See all events on the LearningPlanet Festival website soon!

Edward, what are you hoping to achieve in the next 5 years in the Imagination project?

AIME and Learning Planet Institute are on a mission to raise $10m to centre imagination in every classroom. We want to see the intelligence of our young people activated with their imaginative best. Over the next 5-10 years, we’ll gather knowledge from individuals and organisations actively using imagination to transform education in order to create a fairer world. Through programmes, media and research, we’ll focus on knowledge, intelligence and imagination practice from in and outside the education systems. Click here to discover more.

Irmin, any other news you would like to share with us?

Yes! We have just released the first round of 100+ MentorClass lessons that have been curated onto our YouTube channel. Everyone can access the lessons for free now!

Meet Ed Stevenette

Aime Imagination TV Ed

Ed Stevenette, Education Programme Manager, Learning Planet Institute
Ed is part of the LearningPlanet team which seeks to unite organisations worldwide around the transformation of Education. He coordinates LearningPlanet Circles, which bring together like-minded community members around a shared cause, to collaborate towards for social impact.

Aime Imagination TV Irma

Irmin Durand, Head of Impact, AIME

Irmin is a communication strategist and writer working with people and organisations focused on social change, equality and fairness.

Whether they work within communities or across regions, her goal is to help them build relationships, share ideas, exchange knowledge, and create opportunities for greater impact.

Irmin is Head of Impact at AIME and has a multi-disciplinary role involving strategy, impact, partnering, communication, design and knowledge/research.