And So It Begins

Being in this course came as somewhat of a surprise. I had already enrolled in another course, was happily thinking about spending a semester whiling away hours with creative writing when I received an email saying that I had been accepted into UGRD3001, Unravelling Complexity. The opportunity to fling myself out into the depths of things I know nothing about and meet students and ideas from other faculties seemed a little to good to resist so I gave up the stories and here I am. The introduction to the course by Lawrence Cram revealed a little of the philosophy behind why we are all here. The seed for the course seemingly came from the What Are Universities For? report. One answer seems to be “Universities serve to make students think: to resolve problems by argument supported by evidence, not to be dismayed by complexity, but bold in unravelling it”. And so we begin a thirteen week journey on Unravelling Complexity, juxtaposing case studies of collapse to pick out the commonalities to better equip us to problem solve.

Cram said in his lecture that "emotionality, rhetoric and politics are all time-tested techniques for resolving arguments". My initial reaction is that all of these things are essential and good to problem solving but the more I think about it, it seems that they are as much a hinderance. I will be interested over the coming weeks to see how they come into play within the case studies and in the dynamic of the students debating against each other from the view points of their different disciplines.

Donald Rumsfeld's (in)famous quote was resurrected by Cram " Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are “known knowns”; there are things we know we know. We also know there are “known unknowns”; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also “unknown unknowns”—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”. I can only hope that by the end of semester a series of unknown unknowns become things that I know, or at the very least, things I know that I don't know....