Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] How to enable collaboration between science/engineering and art and design

Dear Roger,

You ask for: " discussions on the problems that we face when we try to establish collaboration between science/engineering with arts/design/humanities= with recommendations on how to overcome these problems. But also how to take advantage of the new opportunities."

During my time teaching within the Honoursprogramme Art and Research of The University of Amsterdam and The Gerrit Rietveld Academie the biggest problem was language and misunderstandings of methods. To have the students become aware of this, in the curriculum we would
begin with sending the students for a week to a Socratic Dialogue Boot
Camp to learn how to discuss issues in a situation where they leave
their disciplines behind. 

Our students reported that even though they came from the same background the differences between disciplines after 2 years of education amazed them. Students have the same starting point questions, but it is the way we are taught to formulate questions and seek answers for them that creates a gap, that before you know it, can become so wide, that collaboration becomes difficult due to the different understandings of definitions. We must not underestimate the human frustration that comes with miss
communication and how it effects the success of collaboration.

To elaborate on the programme: We would have +/- 20 students from as many diverse backgrounds as possible. The group would know each other on a level that comes from living and working with each other for a week, this brings a very nice balance to collaboration. When they came back from the boot camp, we would ask the students to find a common topic as a departure point, this would be for instance 'the nature of reality' or 'language and communication'. It is important to let them ask the biggest questions, be free. From there the students were asked to formulate sub topics. This would be for instance 'the social'. From there sub-groups of 4 students were made (2 from the university and 2 from the art academy). In the curricula we would teach the differences between academic and artistic methods and show them the common ground that is within the basics of research. Formulating a question, understanding what methods are, positioning oneself in a field
etc.  They would begin the process of formulating a research question from their common interests using the main topic and the sub topic. To catalyze this process we would insert a common method on top of their process. For instance by having them creates 'rules' that would be imposed on each others research process. Such a rule would be 'there always have to be a sheep involved' or 'it must always be 60 x 40 x 60. The way the students would interpret and use these rules would produce very original methods and outcomes.

We can take advantage of such opportunities as it opens up paradigms and new forms of collaboration. Paradigms are crucial to move forward in a discipline, but it is also important to be
aware of how they limit us, to be aware of the questions we are not
asking ourselves and what type of knowledge is being lost when methods are limited. There is a very basic human need to think in language as well as image language, there are people who hold the ability to think with both on a high level, if we do not learn how to integrate the languages and provide a platform on which these languages may develop, we lose these forms of knowledge production.

Hope this helps to spark some discussion.


Jennifer Kanary
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