Existential intelligence is the ability to use intuition, thought and meta-cognition to ask (and answer) deep questions about human existence (…) An element of existential intelligence, is recognizing and understand our interconnectedness with the world around us and the universe at large (…) being able to perceive the bigger picture or in other words, to conceive our lives and every-day actions in the context of the grand cosmic arena (…) It involves acknowledging our place in the cosmos and stepping back and contemplating our purpose in the grand scheme of things (…)
One of the most important components of effective 21st-century teaching, is recognizing the different forms of intelligences and catering to the unique abilities of all students. Howard Gardner, a pioneer of this perspective, differentiates intelligence into distinct ‘modalities’, as opposed to a single general ability. These include: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Based on two decades of brain research, the theory suggests that we all have all these intelligences in varying degrees (…) not many students are empowered to realize that their above-average athletic (bodily-kinesthetic) or social abilities (interpersonal), are an extension of their intelligence. In recent years, Gardner has introduced a ninth, and possibly most significant, form of “smarts” referred to as “existential” intelligence. It is also referred to by others as “cosmic” or “spiritual” intelligence.
when we demonstrate that we can have an influence on the world by observing it, what are the implications of it on our “objective” reality?
- His early work had done more than that of any other living thinker to unsettle the traditional understanding of how we acquire knowledge of what’s real
- In a series of controversial books in the 1970s and 1980s, he argued that scientific facts should instead be seen as a product of scientific inquiry. Facts, Latour said, were “networked”; they stood or fell not on the strength of their inherent veracity but on the strength of the institutions and practices that produced them and made them intelligible. If this network broke down, the facts would go with them.
- Founder of the new academic discipline of science and technology studies
- The mid-1990s were the years of the so-called science wars, a series of heated public debates between “realists,” who held that facts were objective and free-standing, and “social constructionists,” like Latour. If scientific knowledge was socially produced — and thus partial, fallible, contingent — how could that not weaken its claims on reality? Lately, however, these debates have begun to look more like a prelude to the post-truth era in which society as a whole is presently condemned to live.
- By showing that scientific facts are the product of all-too-human procedures, these critics charge, Latour — whether he intended to or not — gave license to a pernicious anything-goes relativism that cynical conservatives were only too happy to appropriate for their own ends (…) But Latour believes that if the climate skeptics and other junk scientists have made anything clear, it’s that the traditional image of facts was never sustainable to begin with.
- With the rise of alternative facts, it has become clear that whether or not a statement is believed depends far less on its veracity than on the conditions of its “construction” — that is, who is making it, to whom it’s being addressed and from which institutions it emerges and is made visible.
- In Abidjan, Latour began to wonder what it would look like to study scientific knowledge not as a cognitive process but as an embodied cultural practice enabled by instruments, machinery and specific historical conditions.
- Day-to-day research — what he termed science in the making — appeared not so much as a stepwise progression toward rational truth as a disorderly mass of stray observations, inconclusive results and fledgling explanations (…) During the process of arguing over uncertain data, scientists foregrounded the reality that they were, in some essential sense, always speaking for the facts; and yet, as soon as their propositions were turned into indisputable statements and peer-reviewed papers — what Latour called ready-made science — they claimed that such facts had always spoken for themselves.
- In the 1980s, Latour helped to develop and advocate for a new approach to sociological research called Actor-Network Theory (…) Latour had seen how an apparently weak and isolated item — a scientific instrument, a scrap of paper, a photograph, a bacterial culture — could acquire enormous power because of the complicated network of other items, known as actors, that were mobilized around it. The more socially “networked” a fact was (the more people and things involved in its production), the more effectively it could refute its less-plausible alternatives.
- Latour believes that if scientists were transparent about how science really functions — as a process in which people, politics, institutions, peer review and so forth all play their parts — they would be in a stronger position to convince people of their claims
- Whether they are conscious of this epistemological shift, it is becoming increasingly common to hear scientists characterize their discipline as a “social enterprise” and to point to the strength of their scientific track record, their labors of consensus building and the credible reputations of their researchers.
Excerpts from: Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher, Mounts a Defense of Science, By Ava Kofman published in New York Times, full article available here
Image available here
Critical Pedagogy is an approach to teaching and learning predicated on fostering agency and empowering learners (implicitly and explicitly critiquing oppressive power structures). The word “critical” in Critical Pedagogy functions in several registers:
- Critical, as in mission-critical, essential;
- Critical, as in literary criticism and critique, providing definitions and interpretation;
- Critical, as in reflective and nuanced thinking about a subject;
- Critical, as in criticizing institutional, corporate, or societal impediments to learning;
- Critical Pedagogy, as a disciplinary approach, which inflects (and is inflected by) each of these other meanings.
Our work, the writers say, has wondered at the extent to which Critical Pedagogy translates into digital space.
In short, Critical Digital Pedagogy:
- centers its practice on community and collaboration;
- must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to re-imagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries;
- will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather together a cacophony of voices;
- must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education.
Preface by Audrey Watters. Book available for online reading here
the skills of listening to others becomes as important as making clear statements/ the good listener has to respond to intent, to suggestion, for the conversation to keep moving forward/ the difference between the two terms is not a matter of either/or. the heart of it all lies in picking up on concrete details, on specifics, to drive a conversation forward. Bad listeners bounce back in generalities when they respond; they are not attending to those small phrases, facial gestures or silences which open up a discussion.
Dialectic: the verbal play of opposites should gradually build up to a synthesis (…) the Aristotelian notion that although we use the same words, we cannot say we are speaking of the same things (..) the aim is to come to a mutual understanding (…) the listener elaborates the assumption by putting it into words (…) in the Socratic notion, the echo is actually a displacement
Dialogic: first coined by Mikhail Bakhtin to name a discussion which does not resolve itself by finding a common ground (…) though no shared agreements may be reached, through the process of exchange people may become more aware of their own views and expand their understanding of one another (..) knitted together but divergent exchange (…) a dialogic conversation can be ruined by too much identification with the other person.
Excerpts from Richard Sennett’s book, Together: The Rituals & Politics of Cooperation, 2012, London: Penguin Books (pages 18-20)
Image available here
PLACES TO INTERVENE IN A SYSTEM (in increasing order of effectiveness)
12. Constants, parameters, numbers (such as subsidies, taxes, standards): even though they rarely change behavior
11. The sizes of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their flows: they are usually physical entities, not easy to change
10. The structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport networks, population age structures): they only way to fix a system is to rebuild it, but physical rebuilding is the slowest and most expensive kind of change
9. The lengths of delays, relative to the rate of system change: a system just can’t respond to short-term changes when it has long-term delays,a delay in feedback is critical relative to rates of change in the stocks that the feedback loop is trying to control. it;s easier to slow down the change rate
8. The strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the impacts they are trying to correct against: one of the biggest mistakes is that we drastically narrow the range of conditions over which the system can survive, the strength of a negative loop is important relative to the impact it is designed to correct (self-correcting)
7. The gain around driving positive feedback loops: a system with an unchecked positive loop ultimately will destroy itself (self-reinforcing). reducing the gain around a positive loop -slowing the growth- is usually a more powerful leverage point
6. The structure of information flows (who does and does not have access to information): missing feedback is one of the most common causes of system malfunction. adding or restoring information can be a powerful intervention, usually much easier and cheaper than rebuilding physical infrastructure
5. The rules of the system (such as incentives, punishments, constraints): as we try to imagine restructured rules like that and what our behavior would be under them, we come to understand the power of rules. power over the rules is real power
4. The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure: Self-organization means changing any aspect of a system lower on this list — adding completely new physical structures, such as brains or wings or computers — adding new negative or positive loops, or new rules. the ability to self-organize is the strongest form of system resilience.
3. The goals of the system: the goal of a system is a leverage point superior to the self-organizing ability of a system. even people within systems don’t often recognize what whole-system goal they are serving
2. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system — its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters — arises: the shared idea in the minds of society, the great big unstated assumptions — unstated because unnecessary to state; everyone already knows them — constitute that society’s paradigm, or deepest set of beliefs about how the world works (Kuhn: keep pointing at the anomalies and failures in the old paradigm, you keep coming yourself, and loudly and with assurance from the new one, you insert people with the new paradigm in places of public visibility and power. You don’t waste time with reactionaries; rather you work with active change agents and with the vast middle ground of people who are open-minded.)
1. The power to transcend paradigms: that is to keep oneself unattached in the arena of paradigms, to stay flexible, to realize that NO paradigm is “true,” that every one, including the one that sweetly shapes your own worldview, is a tremendously limited understanding of an immense and amazing universe that is far beyond human comprehension
This was perhaps one of the most interesting conferences I have ever attended. I followed the track of education since day 01 and I was amazed by the high levels of participation and engagement until the end. I met a lot of interesting people and I am very pleased to have worked with them, shared my thoughts with them and discussed with them on the future of urban planning education.
I was very excited to have been able to gain some relevance compared to what we have been doing, especially on transdisciplinary learning. The Round table on Friday was a great experience for me. I think that all of us present agreed on being advocates of collaborative practices, social inclusion and cultural empathy as basic prerequisites for co-creation in urban planning and planning education.