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27 JUNE 2016

The Materiality of Research: 'Woven into the Fabric of the Text: Subversive Material Metaphors in Academic Writing'

"In the social sciences, though, often we write about our research as if theories and arguments are buildings. Theories have frameworks and foundations and they need support. Arguments can be constructed, shored up by facts and buttressed with a solid line of reasoning. Sometimes they can be shaky and even fall down. But as well as communicating what we mean, metaphors structure our thinking. Or, at least, the metaphors we choose when we write can reveal a great deal about underlying assumptions. The theories-as-buildings metaphor always makes me imagine an enormous wall made of rectangular bricks, orderly and straight, progressing upwards and onwards. The researcher's job is to climb the scaffolding, find a gap near the top and make a brick to fill it, or to knock a few crumbling bricks out and replace them with others, strong and freshly fired. Or rarely, to grab a spade and start digging a new foundation, because this metaphor doesn't work like Minecraft: bricks can't float, unsupported.

Why does this way of thinking about knowledge hold such sway over us? For one thing, it offers a comforting sense of progress and control. Buildings have blueprints; their construction appears to proceed in a predictable fashion; engineers can calculate precisely where the load bearing walls and lintels need to be; construction workers know how to mix the mortar so it won't crumble. Making buildings is also something that happens in the public sphere; even with houses, the insides only become private when the work is finished and people move in. And though we all know full well that knowledge creation doesn't actually happen in the controlled and predictable way the metaphor implies, this is the structure that it imposes on our writing: an activity that is orderly, involves rationality over emotion and inhabits the public sphere not the private."

(Katie Collins, 27 May 2016)

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TAGS

2016academic writingaffordances • building metaphors • conceptual metaphorcreative practicecultural practicesfeminine voice • generative practice • integrative practices • Katie Collins • material metaphors • metaphors structure our thinking • needlecraft metaphors • piecing together • predictable fashion • progress narrativesresearch activitiesresearchersewingsocial sciencestitching • theories-as-buildings metaphor • theory building • thinking about knowledge • underlying assumptions

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 APRIL 2014

State of Design: How Design Education Must Change

"But design faces an uncertain future. The traditional design fields create artifacts. But new societal challenges, cultural values, and technological opportunities require new skills. Design today is more human–centered and more social, more rooted in technology and science than ever before. Moreover, there is need for services and processes that do not require the great craft skills that are the primary outcome of a design education.

Although design can sometimes bring creative insight to new problems, this ability is more of an art than a science, limited to a few especially talented individuals and design firms. In order to expand beyond chance successes, design needs better tools and methods, more theory, more analytical techniques, and more understanding of how art and science, technology and people, theory and practice can commingle effectively and productively. ...

Design is still mainly taught as a craft. There are remarkably few fundamental principles, almost no science. If design is to live up to its promise it must create new, enduring curricula for design education that merge science and technology, art and business, and indeed, all the knowledge of the university. Design is an all–encompassing field that integrates together business and engineering, the social sciences and the arts. We see a tremendous opportunity for students that learn design in this integrated way. ...

For design to succeed, grow, achieve its potential, and train future leaders, we envision a new curriculum. In our vision, these new programs combine learning the art and craft of beautiful, pleasurable well–crafted design with substantive courses in the social and biological sciences, in technology, mathematics and statistics, and in the understanding of experimental methods and rigorous reasoning. Programming and mechatronics are essential skills in today's product world. Not only will this training make for better practitioners, but it will also equip future generations of designers to be better at developing the hard, rigorous theory design requires.

Design is an exciting powerful field, filled with promise. To meet the challenges of the 21st century, design and design education must change. So too must universities."

(Don Norman and Scott Klemmer, 25 March 2014)

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TAGS

2014 • analytical techniques • analytical thinkingart and design education • behavioural sciences • call to actioncomplex phenomenacraft and materialscraft skills • creative insight • creative leaders • deductive reasoning • design academics • design and visual culturedesign artefactsdesign craftdesign curriculadesign curriculumdesign educationdesign education must changedesign facultydesign methodsdesign pedagogydesign studio educationdesign theory • design theory and practice • design thinkingdisciplinary specialisationDonald Normanexperimental methodsexperimental type design • finding and solving problems • formal design methodsfundamental principlesinductive reasoningintegrative practicesinterdisciplinary knowledge • LinkedIn Influencers (series) • material practicesmateriality of artefacts • mechatronics • people and society • people and technology • practical theory • practice and theorypractitioner wisdomquestioning traditionsScott Klemmersynthetic thinkingsystematic approachsystems thinking • technology and people • technology designtheory and practicetheory of designthinking toolsuncertain future • well-crafted design

CONTRIBUTOR

Linda Carroli
06 OCTOBER 2013

Modern medicine evokes a Cartesian mind-body dualism

"If we look at the history of medicine, we can see that it became what it is today because of a sweeping social transformation that modernized Europe centuries ago. Urbanization and commerce, along with Protestantism and the Catholic Counter–Reformation, encouraged new ways of conceiving and interacting with nature. It was within this context that 'scientific medicine' was invented and elaborated. The particular scientific model that became predominant in Europe in the seventeenth century accepted the mind–body dualism of René Descartes, for whom the human body is a self–contained, entirely material machine. His contemporary, Baruch Spinoza, on the other hand, elaborated a more relational view, stemming from a Jewish tradition that regards the body as essential to a complex and ultimately spiritual being, and all beings as mutually dependent.

Spinoza's perspective is no less compatible with scientific medicine than the Cartesian view. For science has two complementary ways of explaining: by taking apart–as atomic physics mainly does–and by bringing into relation–as Einstein's relativity theory does. Spinoza was quite aware of the power of the first approach, as elaborated by Descartes and advanced by technologies such as the newly invented microscope. Spinoza acknowledges that the human body is composed of parts, and those parts of smaller parts still. But he recognizes also that bodies are encompassed by, and can be adequately understood only in relation to, unities larger than themselves, until we reach the widest system of all, which is 'the whole of nature.' Spinoza was an early exponent of what is known today as 'systems theory.'

Medicine in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries could have taken a more integrative path, in keeping with Spinoza's insight that we are guardians not only of our bodies, taken individually, but of the entire domain of nature with which they are continuous. Instead–for reasons that this essay will explore – mainstream medicine adopted the Cartesian machine model."

(Raymond Barglow, Tikkun Magazine, March 2002)

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TAGS

16th century17th centuryAlbert Einstein • atomic physics • atomisticBaruch Spinozabodybringing into relation • Cartesian machine model • Cartesian view • Catholiccomplexitycomposed of partscontingencydualismhealth carehistory of medicinehuman bodyintegrative practices • Jewish tradition • Judaism • mainstream medicine • man and nature • material machine • medicinemicroscopemind-body dualismnatureProtestantismrelational aestheticsrelational viewRene Descartessciencescientific medicine • scientific model • self-contained • social transformation • spiritual being • systems theorytaking apart • theory of relativity • urbansation

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
23 NOVEMBER 2005

Disruptive Innovators: connecting the dots of breakthrough possibilities

"Disruptive innovators – or as strategy guru Gary Hamel calls them, the 'revolutionaries' – are people who developed talents in multiple disciplines and use them for disrupting wasteful practices in business and society. They prefer working with organisations that learned how to keep them interested and engaged. They are better poised to see and connect the dots of breakthrough possibilities, than those with a narrower professional horizon who see fewer dots.To up its capability for radical and disruptive innovation, the organisation needs to have more people with cross–functional talents and aspirations. Hence, the importance of the question, where to find them.A recent study of people managing the supply chain in a large American electronics company has shown 'how compensation, positive performance evaluations, promotions, and good ideas were disproportionately in the hands of managers rich in the social capital of bridging structural holes... Ways of thinking and behaving are more homogeneous within than between groups, so people connected to otherwise segregated groups are more likely to be familiar with alternative ways of thinking and behaving, which gives them the option of selecting and synthesizing alternatives."
(George Por and Erik van Bekkum)

TAGS

breakthrough • connect dots • cross-disciplinary • cross-functional • disruptive innovation • disruptive innovators • Erik van Bekkum • Gary Hamel • George Por • integrative practicesknowledge integration • multiple disciplines • revolutionaries
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