The production of the CoCoCoDesign for Collaboration is at the cutting edge of the methodological field of practice-based research, as it plays itself out in the emerging forms of research-creation, artistic research, arts-based research, performance as research and more established qualitative traditions such as ethnography, autoethnography and performative writing.
The design is an institutional production; made with the specific context of the ERASMUS+ RASL project, its partners, students and collaborators in mind. The design is also an independent and dialogical work of research; an exploration of the convergences between the personal, poetic, performative and philosophical in transdisciplinary research and education. The IO2 team consisting of Dieuwke Boersma and Connie Svabo collectively work with playful mingles and mangles of research-creation; hanging out together in digital and conceptual sandboxes, playing with associative, desiring-productive schizzes, incorporating post it notes, bonobos, elven ears, antennae, digital choirs and virtual backgrounds.
The CoCoCo Methodology is practice-based research-creation; doing hybridized knowledge production across media and disciplines.
The IO2 team consisting of Diewke Boersma and Connie Svabo are prototyping a Code of Conduct. The CoCoCo Design for Collaboration includes specific examples of ‘codexes’ – highlighted from participating institutions, relates the RASL code of conduct to literature in the field of transdisciplinary studies and integrates approaches from posthumanist and new materialist philosophy and science and technology studies into this field.
The initial starting point of the project is that a code of conduct is a necessary and relevant way of navigating in complex, transdisciplinary learning situations – with many participants, many disciplinary and professional backgrounds and many institutional actors. The CoCoCo Design for Collaboration, however, also amplifies and distorts the code of conduct, so it also becomes a code of conflict and a code of care. How are conflicts handled? How is care taken?
At present the CoCoCo Design for Collaboration product is envisioned to consist of a booklet, design components for an immersive audiovisual environment, and two process designs, as well as a box: The magic box of bewilderment.
The magic box of bewilderment is a transdisciplinary apparatus that invites and enables one to study together with others. Its aim is to engender ethical cosmopolitical gestures that make alternative futures, worlds and relations happen from ones underbelly. In other words, the magic box of bewilderment can be seen as a new set or framework of coming together that sets a different time making machine into working.
Transdisciplinary research and education has an ideal of participation, non-hierarchy and co-creation. The idea is to involve those, who are affected by the research topic, and to do this in a way, where a non-hierarchical and collaborative learning space is created.
This implies working with citizens who bring situatedness and specifics to the transdisciplinary project – and makes it necessary to interrogate issues of ownership. For this reason, a hope is that a code of conduct can help establish non-hierarchy and co-creation:
“Non-hierarchy and co-creation are key aspects which need to be established in the code of conduct. Citizens participate with the intention to enrich the learning environment by becoming co-learners.” (ERASMUS+ project description)
Roskilde University (RUC) is based on problem based project learning (at RUC this is called ‘problem oriented project learning’. 50% of the students’ ECTS are achieved via project work in groups. The university promotes that students collaborate with companies, organizations and others in this project work. It is most common that this starts when the students are on their 4th semester of the bachelor’s programme and continues towards graduation. The basic idea is that the students engage with ‘real-world problems’ and that this provides beneficial learning experiences for them.
On the university intranet, there is a section devoted to student project work, carried out with an organisation / company. The page exists in both Danish and English (for international students), with approximately the same information in both languages. The intranet site includes an example of a project with an organisation as well as ‘how to’ resource pages and a suggested timeline.
The How to indicates that the students should start by discussing in the group which topic they would like to write about, then find a company to collaborate with, arrange the first meeting, agree on the framework for cooperation (a template for cooperation agreement is provided – called CO-OPERATION AGREEMENT ) and finally present their results for the company and remember to get feedback from the company (a template for feedback is provided – called FEEDBACK FORM).
Furthermore, the intranet page mentions that students in some special cases may need to make a special confidentiality agreement. Two templates are provided for this: a non-disclosure agreement and a cooperative agreement (another kind than the one mentioned above).
The CO-OPERATION AGREEMENT is a word document with a two column table. It includes 5 sections: Problem area – Empirical data – Co-operation – Results – Feedback.
Each section has guiding questions.
E.g for the section on Feedback: Agreement for how the organisation will give the students feedback. Will the organisation give a form of feedback to the students? (E.g. a recommendation on LinkedIn) – Will the organisation give oral or written feedback?
E..g for the section on Co-operation: How will the group and organisation work together and communicate? Where, when and how many times will the project group and organisation wish to meet? How will the parties communicate (e.g. written or verbal)? Who is contact person for the project group and the organisation?
Engaging life-world problems and doing participatory research and education creates new dynamics of power, knowledge and desire. What is desirable? What is good? What is relevant?
In an educational context, one implication is that students bridge their acquired skills, knowledge and competence to practices, networks, themes and topics that go beyond disciplinary orientations.
“Students are citizens […] with the ability to contribute to society. If they are able to ‘stay with the trouble’ they are also able to reposition their disciplinary perspective and establish an innovative perspective on learning and education.” (ERASMUS+ project description)
A motto-like reason for transdisciplinary education is that ‘real-world problems don’t know disciplinary boundaries’.
The Oxford Handbook of Transdisciplinary Research points to four core concerns of transdisciplinarity:
“First the focus on life-world problems; second the transcending and integrating og disciplinary paradigms; third participatory research; and fourth the search for unity of knowledge beyond disciplines.” (Frode 2010: 29)
Transdisciplinary modes of knowledge creation are all about questioning disciplines, creating communities, involving non-experts and disturbing sedimentary, institutional regimes.
Involving stakeholders into the learning environment may create new dynamics and conflicts. Multiple interests play themselves out at the same time. Student learning may be the primary raison d’etre of the collaboration seen from the educational institution, which yes, wants to engage with society, and also at the same time must ensure its own critical and independent position. At the same time, involved organizations invest time, effort and resources into the collaborations and may want to benefit directly from the collaboration, by receiving new concepts, models and insights – hence judging projects from the perspective of individual or organizational gain.
This melánge raises the question, how to ensure an open and safe learning environment, where participant’s interests coexist, where there is room for trial and error, and where all of the implicated parties experience value creation. A stakeholders code of conduct is one possible way of scaffolding situations of collaboration and navigating interpersonal and inter-institutional dynamics.
“Stakeholders Code of Conduct for Transdisciplinary processes” is the Intellectual Output 2 in the Erasmus+ project on Transdisciplinary Education in the Arts and Sciences.
The primary intention behind this intellectual output is to educationally scaffold how to involve stakeholders in collaborative projects. Transdisciplinary education seeks to engage (with) practice – in education and in research. Sometimes called a ‘modus 2 – new kind of knowledge production’, the idea is to involve external parties in research, either as ‘requirents’, (for example organizations working with a specific challenge), or as ‘involved parties’, for example by thinking of and involving the people who are affected by specific topics, issues and matters of concern. This kind of modus-2 knowing radically breaks with traditional disciplinary organization, in that “the context of application” is included in the validation and legitimization of knowledge.
From their specific expertise and position in society, the idea is that stakeholders contribute to research and education and in this way become part of the research and learning environment.
However, engaging life-world problems and doing participatory research and education creates new dynamics of power, knowledge and desire. What is desirable? What is good? What is relevant?