Knowledge Labs: Developing Epistemic Insight through interdisciplinary collaboration

Higher Education is a pivotal time for students to develop their capacities to contribute to human flourishing in their life and work. The multidisciplinary environment of universities represents an unprecedent opportunity for building the epistemic insight needed for this.

A vision for a multidisciplinary education

It is well established that creativity, thinking critically and problem-solving are some of the most ‘in demand’ skills – both for the jobs market and in projects that aim to increase human flourishing. These skills call for expertise and skills in multidisciplinary reasoning. Students and society will benefit if graduates are ready to question, work with and apply different types of knowledge. However, creative dialogue across disciplinary perspectives can be hindered by course and subject silos. ‘Knowledge Labs’ are spaces for encouraging dialogues between disciplines that don’t often come together – like Dance and Computer Science. These spaces mean that students can gain insight into how disciplines work, learn about another discipline and reflect anew about their own discipline – seen in a new perspective. Students then work together on a collaborative project with the aim of producing products that can make the world a better place. And with the parallel aim of becoming wise and compassionate epistemic agents, better equipped to co-create holistic solutions to global and local opportunities and challenges.

We are seeking funding to develop ‘knowledge labs’ in 10 partner Higher Education Institutions across 5 nations. Alongside guidebooks, websites, scholarly papers and books, this proposed project will produce a portfolio of videos and other media by students published and shared online. Encouragement to participate will be provided through competitions and virtual spaces to join up with others and share ideas and expertise.

Meanwhile models of what this future might look like are being developed at Canterbury Christ Church University, with a particular focus on the opportunities and challenges created by the arrival of GenAI.

Working with a GenAI chatbot to do scholarly or educational work is new for many students, teachers, tutors and scholars. To find ways to get it to work well for you it helps to know a bit about what it’s doing and why. It is also useful to explore case studies of how it is supporting and challenging colleagues and peers so far.

Working Paper on why we are introducing ‘AI Times’

– A New Inter-Disciplinary Journal Exploring the Future of Knowledge in Higher Education in the Age of GenAI

What is GenAI?

GenAI – or more fully, Generative AI – refers to AIs that generate a new response for each user’s request. The GenAI application that is engaging everyone’s attention is a new AI chatbot which can create a conversation – by ‘chatting’ with the user – in what is argued to be natural (humanlike) language. In this conversation the user ‘prompts’ the chatbot with questions, instructions and chitchat. The AI’s response addresses the question and it also mirrors the style of the user – which makes this kind of interaction different to interacting with a search engine.

Fast track to Prompt Engineering: An Online Seminar for Brunel University

In this talk at Brunel University I discussed prompt engineering which is the art of crafting questions and instructions to get the best output from a generative AI system.

Online Seminar Summary.

There are many ways to investigate a technology – especially one that can ‘talk’. In this session you will have my pick of interesting, quirky and useful things you can do with Bing/Bard and ChatGPT – though the mindset of a playful scientist.
Interspersed with experiments we can try as we go, we’ll address some FAQs that can come up in a typical university – what works when it comes to new ways to motivate, challenge and assess students now that we have GenAI? What’s the point of being on campus if you’re not studying a practical subject like biology, music or dance? And do we still need a library building – if we can find and organise knowledge so much faster when we’re doing research online?
From ‘nuts and bolts’ explanations in computer science to use-cases in astronomy, biology, education, epistemology, politics, theology and the arts – what’s remarkable about GenAI is that every discipline can have something to say. Which is why I would very much like to know – what was the first prompt or question you put into a GenAI chatbot – and what did the bot reply? I will succeed if I can spark your sense of curiosity and show you some unexpected reasons and ways to work across disciplinary divides.

Title: A fast track to prompt engineering

An Educative Approach to GenAI

Canterbury Christ Church University is taking an ‘educative’ approach when it comes to guiding/regulating staff and student use of GenAI.

Staff guidance on GenAI was shared at an open event called, ‘Discover the AI in your life. The day ended with a debate and open lecture.

AI open lecture at CCCU on 14th Sep 23