Ideas about stability and change determine our capacity to engage in sustainable development, and the possibility of continued economic growth in affluent societies divides social scientists. From our own lives we know of both linear and circular time, but during recent decades, everything appears to accelerate. The dominant time regime has become exponential. The Sustainable Development Goals form a collective guideline for radical global transformation. But the imaginaries that we have of how societal change takes place may form a critical precondition for actually transforming the world. Historically, the idea of change has differed according to two conceptual dualities. First, time can be seen as either linear or circular, that is either continuously producing something new or returning to some initial position. Second, transformation can take place incrementally or abruptly. Changes in both nature and society have traditionally been considered linear and incremental. In 1704, German scientist Gottfried Leibniz famously claimed that nature never makes leaps. But today we know that sudden disturbances occasionally do affect most ecosystems. The development of the SDGs refers to change for the better, to improvement. But the idea that everything should be expected to become ever better along a linear process is quite recent. In a Western context, the most prevalent understanding of history until about the 18th century was that we're moving farther and farther away from an ideal golden age in the distant past. Christianity further combined this narrative of fall and retrogression with apocalyptic prospects of the Day of Judgment. This gloomy forecast appear to entail the impending end of history, but in reality, apocalyptic ideas not only presupposed an end, but also a new beginning following some kind of catharsis, of cleansing. In recent debates about anthropogenic climate change, we also frequently find a yearning for extrication. The provision of some kind of a clean slate. In many religions, some kind of spiritual progress is a key goal and demand. Improving yourself through some inner journey that might even find expression in outer pilgrimage. Within the Christian tradition, this quest for improvement form the groundwork of John Bunyan's extremely popular and widely distributed Pilgrim's Progress from 1678. But whereas personal religiously inspired progress often targets returning to some original serenity before God, Western culture has since the enlightenment in the 18th century been absorbed by reaching out for a better future. In 1795, French philosopher Marquis de Condorcet called a book "Sketch for Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind" in which he projected hopes and aspirations on a promising future. And the multiform processes of modernization that characterized the following century more or less all implied an attempt to form a more prosperous future, even when the resulting prosperity was limited to a few. No ideas, however, seem to be able to exist without their opposites. And the 19th and 20th centuries' rich fiction writing about the future, much of it so-called science fiction can roughly be divided into two: Utopian dreams of endless economic, technological, and mental progress versus dystopian nightmares of conflict and human overreach. In the practical planning of the 20th century of modern mass societies with increasing demand for economic prosperity and social justice, the former gained hegemony and in parliamentary political systems promises of a brighter future clearly appealed to most voters, so modern democracies were grounded on the idea of continued improvement. As part of the post-World War II decolonization process, social and economic development became a universal human right. In his inaugural address on January 20th, 1949, American President Harry S. Truman promised that the technological and social progress of the Western world would be shared with as he said: "All peace loving nations" - that is non-communist states. We must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas. More than half the people of the world are living in conditions approaching misery. Their food is inadequate. They are victims of disease. Their economic life is primitive and stagnant. Their poverty is a handicap and a threat, both to them and to more prosperous areas. For the first time in history, humanity possesses the knowledge and skill to relieve the suffering of these people. United States is preeminent among the nations in the development of industrial and scientific techniques. The material resources which we can afford to use for assistance of other peoples are limited. But our imponderable resources in technical knowledge are constantly growing and are inexhaustible. I believe that we should make available to peace loving peoples, the benefits of our store of technical knowledge in order to help them realize their aspirations for a better life. In cooperation with other nations, we should foster capital investment in areas needing development. Our aim should be to help the free peoples of the world through their own efforts to produce more food, more clothing, more materials for housing, and moral mechanical power to lighten their burdens. Under the double influence of decolonization and cold war polarization, Social Sciences produced a variety of so-called modernity theories, aiming to provide development to less developed parts of the world. The basic idea was that former colonies in the Global South were to take a path largely identical to that historically taken by the industrialized North. Consequently, modernization theories aiming at economic development focussed narrowly on growth in GDP. One of the most renowned examples of such theories was Walt Whitman Rostow's book "Stages of Economic Growth. A Non- Communist Manifesto" from 1960. With use of aviation metaphors, it predicted the future of never-ending global economic growth, comparable with the universal progress through pre-formatted historical stages anticipated by the Communist Manifesto in 1848. About the same time, increasing Western aid programs to the decolonized Global South became a prominent application of this development idea. The aid came in various forms, and it was explained and understood in different ways by both donors and recipients. Gradually, the UN that was formed in 1945 practically adopted the pledge for global development. In 1966, all such endeavors were collected in the UN Development Program, the UNDP. In the 1960s, Western development seemed fairly easy, at least for a while. Basic concepts and even main strategy was shared between OECD countries. And the basic idea was to combine increased investment in the developing countries with the transfer of knowledge. All this was supposed to take place through development projects. A development project was an exemplary activity. Ideally, for every foreign experts, there should be a local counterpart, and the task of that counterpart after the project itself had been finished, was to transmit the new skills and the new knowledge to other people. Also after the ending of the project and after some time, the idea was that local savings should provide means for the investments that we're going to follow up on the first injection of capital provided by the donor nations. There were fairly strong reasons for the belief in this imagined procedure. Because during the industrial revolution in the 19th century, there had, in fact, been a process of an ongoing cooperation between investment in terms of money and transfer of skills in the form of technical assistance from especially England to the nations on the continents who had begun the process of industrialization. Well, that was the 19th century. But even in the 20th century, that notion became popularized by an American economist called Walt Rostow, who launched the theory that all modernization processes would follow the same path. That is, there would be an increased rate of investment. That was, so to speak, a law-like phenomenon. It was bound to happen everywhere. There was another supplementary figure by another economist called Alexander Gerschenkron, that backward countries could advance rapidly in that way. Because as Gerschenkron stated, they could rely on experience from more advanced nations, and by skipping the phases of trial and error, they would proceed on the road of development more quickly than it had been done previously. There was a general era of optimism about development projects and the whole development process in the first phase of the 1960s. But it turned out during that decade that there was a huge difference between the industrialization of Europe in the 19th century and the post-colonial situations in the 1960s. Because there was a much wider gap between the countries or the areas that delivered the means for the new development, that is, primarily the know-how and the skills, and the recipient countries than there had been in the 19th century between, say, especially England and the recipient countries in Europe. These circumstances depended on the lack of certain resources. They were material resources, of course, in the form of infrastructure and supporting culture and so on. But there was also real and serious problems with leadership and commitment and political and social mentality in the developing countries, especially among the leadership in that period. When we reach 1970, we find a situation where things are becoming aggravated. We have the lack of success for traditional development projects, and we also have a situation where there is a new wave of resentment against colonialism and against the former colonial powers, a new wave of criticism against the development effort which is being done. And the results of these combined pressures on the development strategy was in fact a new strategy. Instead of traditional economic investment, experts came up with the idea that it would be more important rather than invest in, say, big factories to invest in infrastructure that could help people directly. That could be, for instance, electricity, it could be clean water, it could be physical planning, it could be elementary health service. The underlying philosophy of that idea was that if ordinary people's lives were improved, then they would gain more resources for performing economic activities, such as creating businesses or supplying labor for the labor market. That would in and by itself stimulate development. There was no reason to believe that this wasn't a very sound idea. From a logical perspective, it certainly was. The only problem is that the actual effort in development was bound to be small compared to the enormous problems and tasks that were lying ahead. Donors began to feel disappointed about not being able to discern from their effort a clear increase in economic growth rates in the developing countries. At the same time, they saw that while they provided at least some capital for developing these backward areas, the national framework of the same areas, that is the states, the new formed developing states, was entering into more and more debt. Well, there were multiple reasons for Danmark to engage in development aid. It started already in the 1950s after the establishment of the United Nations and after the problems with isolation during the depression and during the war had been more or less terminated. Denmark in that situation found that it would be an advantage to project its own image onto the world in order to be heard, simply, and to gain opportunities. And for that purpose, they considered that active participation in the United Nations development programs would be a good idea. A good way to make Denmark heard, make Denmark seen, and also to gain some international prestige. I believe that the decision-makers found that it worked fairly well. But nevertheless, they decided to try and expand the program by establishing a bilateral dimension as well. This means that instead of only supporting the United Nations effort, they would also establish direct relations or connections with recipient countries. As we all know, Tanzania has been one of the most important ones throughout 60 years by now. That's a remarkable example. Why did they do it? Well, of course, there was an intention of providing development for the sake of humankind for altruistic reasons, but there was also the notion lying underneath it all, that if problems of poverty weren't handled and solved then in the longer term, it might pose a destabilizing factor in the world and then possibly also a security risk. But then again, there were also other motives that were less idealistic because a good deal of the Danish aid to these individual countries was tied for purchases made in Denmark, and that was typically for Danish industrial products. In that way, you can say that the development aid, and especially the bilateral part, became a showcase for the Danish industry and for Danish projects, but also for Danish methods of doing things and Danish ideas like folk high schools and other remarkable or notable features of the way we do things in Denmark. And then there were perhaps other motives that were not outspoken, like the other ones that I have described before, but it had to do with gaining experience, I believe. I believe that it became clear for authorities that when Denmark sent out experts and volunteers for development projects, we did, of course, spent a good deal of money on those projects, but we gain something as well in the form of experience from what conditions were like in those countries. That was again, with an eye for future opportunities that it will be nice in a world where globalization was beginning to take off. To know something about how to behave and how to react and how to communicate with other nations that were far from Denmark and had been completely out of scope, so to say, from Danish activity formerly. That was one important motive. You might also say that the activities by young development activists, was as a way of integrating young critical elements in further points of their personal development and their careers in the mainstream Danish way of organizing business, performing administrative procedures, and so on. So it also become not only a showcase, but also in the integrative process of development for Denmark itself. You might sadly say at the end that perhaps after all these impressions and all these movements, that perhaps the idea, the problem or whether the development effort was actually useful and was beneficial for the creation of economic growth and development in the Third World. Well, that was an issue that was easily forgotten, while all the other things were being done.