Dealing With Difference

The tutorial for the GFC topic was the playing ground for the first instance of differing disciplines/personalities being at loggerheads with each other. A discussion on the sub-prime mortgage crisis became quite emotional and heated and was split between an economists/lawyers point of view that 'people should have been more careful with the contracts that they were signing' and my touchy-feely humanities point of view that the people were victims of the greater machinations of a complex system. At the end of the discussion I don't believe that we had reached any compromise and were perhaps even more convinced of our own opinions. It possibly only highlights our personal stubbornness that may be worn down across the course but also one of the problems of interdisciplinary studies with high-achieving students: That they're all very used to getting their own way and being right.

The second tutorial didn't develop much past the first in respect to dealing with differences we ended up discussing the initial posts from the wattle exercise and then ended up choosing one to talk about in depth. It happened to be the article that I posted on the criminalisation of HIV. We split into small groups to discuss the problem. I felt that we spent so much time dancing around semantics that we didn't end up discussing any problems of politics, education, culture, history, corporate interests, research and development that contribute to the complexity of the problem.

One group declared that as we know what the answer is (find a cure for the disease) then the problem just isn't that complex. This makes me wonder about the frequency of this attitude on a wider scale. Clearly the parameters of the problem need to be defined but often it seems to happen that stakeholders define the parameters in such a way as to negate their responsibility.