In a few decades society has been transformed by digital technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and algorithmic organisation which can store, share, search and increasingly reformulate knowledge at a pace and scale unimaginable by those who created our systems and institutions for science and education.
Now that we are online, the physical walls and distances that once kept many of us apart are lifting. Resources and ideas and perspectives from different disciplines, professions and spaces can be just a click or two apart…
Big Questions and real-world opportunities and problems are in some ways, widely experienced by all of us, but in other ways, are often experienced in ways that are unique to every person, community, discipline and society. By collaborating and co-creating solutions to questions that draw us together, and by setting time to work on those that are distinctive to who we individually are, we can take a wide view of what knowledge is through a diversity of projects that are designed to be understood and work together.
Our proposed initiative will co-create new practices in our educational and scholarly institutions aimed at transforming barriers that block epistemic insight and flourishing into opportunities and boundaries that are understood and skilfully negotiated.
The barriers include disciplinary silos, the fragmentation of knowledge and our enthusiasm for the ease, speed and benefits of modelling and working with the knowledge we already have. By bridging boundaries between students, scientists, philosophers, theologians, historians, artists, librarians, journalists, teachers and more … we will find and strengthen ways to teach and cultivate epistemic curiosity, creativity and critical thinking – in other words, epistemic insight.
This proposal is also motivated by an enthusiasm to work with puzzles that are created when apparently incongruent and conflicting ideas come together. It matters because some conflicts can disappear once the contexts are better understood.
It also matters because in a virtual space, the boundaries between scholarship, journalism, misleading content and deliberate misinformation are easily blurred. Public encounters with sensationalism can reinforce uncritical scientism, thus limiting the wisdom and compassion that a multidisciplinary perspective can provide. By working across multiple spaces, this Initiative can help to galvanise changes that ask about the big picture in tandem with the details. We are convinced that these enquiries will equip our knowledge producing institutions to provide a necessary enrichment of society’s capacities for epistemic insight and human flourishing.
Across the six projects, three themes emerge and are embedded. Their consistency of language across the project descriptions from the first will help us to generate big ideas that reach across the projects as well as analysis and explanations of individual differences.
These themes are:
What does it mean to be a wise and compassionate epistemic agent in an increasingly digital age?
How can schools and academic institutions cultivate and teach epistemic curiosity, creativity and criticality – in other words – epistemic insight.
To what extent can strategies and tools like the ‘Discipline Wheel’, ‘bridging questions’, ‘research co-creation’ and the ‘bubble tool’ motivate changes to practices in systems where barriers to flourishing are deeply entrenched.