Ir. Geesje Kuit: Synergies and tensions

Inclusive Economy27 Aug 2009Geesje Kuit

The wrap-up chair from day one of the Conference, Mr Roel in ‘t Veld, gave the impression that the first day really was a serious one. The transition from a knowledge ECONOMY towards a knowledge DEMOCRACY means that the society should change the tolerating attitude into a change attitude. Transdisciplinary research therefore is a 21th century engineering.

The introduction of the second day given by Mr Koos van Steenhoven took over the opening session with his view of the content of these changes: ‘knowledge is inmeasurable… it happens’. We will have to dedicate ourselves to ‘the art of connecting’ where it happens. It will be expensive, he said, to generate this revolutionary interface, because the knowledge has to be validated. It has to be applied adequately. This work started in the Netherlands with top-institutes, knowledge chambers and a knowledge directory. He stated that a ‘democracy cannot do without evidence’. And evidence is not evident, as he illustrated by the clash of the vaccination campaign for girls against uterus cancer: where distrust had spread upon the public by unvalidated stories on the internet. Society is unpredictable. Therefore the connection between citizens and science should be a cautious one: ‘an open, flexible relationship’.

Dr Chris Peterson went on to explain Transdisciplinary Scholarship. He uses the term scholarship instead of research. Just to stress the idea of co-creation of new knowledge is so different from ‘research’. It implies system innovation and action! Peterson states we should engage the stakeholders as our peers. And that wicked problems, such as those we have to face with sustainability issues, are not to be SOLVED, but MANAGED. Therefore we need knowledge, which is ‘true and actionable’.

In fact, here we still have synergy with the former speaker about the level of unpredictability of the society, but the tension can be seen at the horizon of application of the knowledge. How clear can you make it as the knowledge structure is replaced by knowledge action?

Peterson stresses the making of new knowledge… by converting explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge, embedded in experiences. New knowledge… adding value by experience..! This engagement with the other stakeholders makes true transparency.

Is this naïve? Faculties must give attention to this process. But will they? Peterson also says that incentives that limit co-creation should be avoided. Will this be? I hope so.