Scholar + Practitioner + Observers
Colloquies for Transgenerational Collaboration (CTC) consist of a sequence of 45-minute conversations that centre on a single organising principle: proceed from the younger participants’ starting points, worldviews, and values and create new framing and language through collaboration across generations, projects, disciplines, and practices. The public conversations are designed to discover compatibilities and develop a plan for continued, structured exchanges. They are the basis for ongoing design and co-creation—a living repository that will evolve with global collaboration and be documented and widely shared to benefit future researchers.
Until recently, knowledge would be adjacent: the wisdom and practices of prior generations would be available and comprehensible and a mix of generations could converse fluently and collaborate. This is no longer the case. Prior work, disciplinary foundations, and scholarly practices no longer ground conversations across generations. The number of connections and interactions has exploded with communication platforms and devices, social networks and media creation. Cognitive overload, massive dissonance, loss of solitude and sense of self, misinformation and disinformation. In groups with interdisciplinary tendencies, there is some intermixing of viewpoints, but the fullness of transgenerational collaboration is rare. However, there is no greater passion for confronting wicked problems than with graduate students and early-career researchers—and long-career practitioners bring the explanatory value of concepts, models, and case studies.
Wicked challenges of the present day are foremost on our minds, from climate change and population growth, totalitarian regimes and terrorism, economic insecurity and systemic inequities. The challenges are many and recursive: to fathom complicated situations, define scope, evolve our thinking, and build prototypes—all while fending off blocks to progress and discouragement to passion—leading us to question:
How do I see the world? What do I desire? What do I want to change?
Contributions to this topic that explore the fullness of transdisciplinary collaboration could be framed within the following concepts; however, different approaches are welcomed and encouraged.
Effective action must emerge from framing and argumentation rather than analysis and problem-solving. Problem-finding and problem-definition must arise in conversation with all stakeholders. All must share the intention and hope of dampening harm rather than the illusion of erasing it.
Today’s world demands that designers share an understanding of complex adaptive systems. Their design challenges exist in the nested complexity of systems within systems within systems. We must see today’s world differently —presumptions about knowability and predictability no longer apply. At the same time, the domain of design is no longer that of products and services but of the consequential experiences of living beings embedded in the physical and social environments that sustain them.
This 21st-century context demands a systems viewpoint and the discipline of cybernetics, which offers a unifying epistemology and rigour for engaging with the intersection of purposeful living systems and taciturn non-living systems. As designing is an intentional system, cybernetics has much to say about 21st-century design methods, which in turn must influence how designers train and practise. Creating conditions for designing that are participatory and inclusive requires a focus on designing for conversations in order to respond equitably and effectively to global challenges.
The Colloquies are the design outcome of the Carnegie Mellon University project-based special topics seminar, Collaborations for Wicked Challenges, open to Grads and Undergrads in Spring 2023 and taught by Paul Pangaro, Visiting Scholar, School of Architecture & School of Design.
Colloquies for Transgenerational Collaboration Participants
Agnes Fury Cameron
Siti Balkish Roslan