Interdisciplanary studies

I can't help but feel that this lecture might have been more help at the beginning of the course, perhaps coupled with Steve Cork's lecture on complexity and systems.

However, the talk was helpful in relation to our China policy briefs.

Hopefully we will be able to use Bammer's six steps to help us when we're working together
1.Taking a systems view
3.Boundary setting
4.Problem framing
5.Taking values into account
6.Harnessing and managing differences

I think that her point about problem framing is very relevant to the way in which we have been and can approach complexity. It reminds me of the point that Scott MacWilliam made about our approached to The Pacific that we need to be deeply mindful of our own context. I think that Bammer's point about trying to reframe the problems ourselves (hopefully positively, and without too much spin) is useful but I feel that often so much is framed for us and often so effectively that many people don't notice. I think thought that this course will have strengthened our ability to look beyond the spin and try to analyse the component parts of problems.

The article on Enhancing Research Collaboration offered sound advice for group work. Particularly in relation to ways in which to harness differences to best advantage and ways in which to overcome problem-differences. Our China policy group is specialising on the environmental aspects of the China/Australia relationship and our group consists of a mathematician/physicist, a social/environmental scientist and me (spanish and art history). I am especially in a position to benefit from the knowledge of my team members. I am very conscious about inevitable restrictions, particularly time. It is nearing the end of semester and everyone is dealing with competing interests from their other subjects as well as a certain amount of exhaustion. In contrast to worrying about the two weeks that we do have I am trying to keep in mind that policy briefs are often formulated in a matter of hours.

I found Michael Smithson's talk refreshing. After eleven weeks treating black swans and unknowns as an element of fear and key player in collapse it was good to be reminded that unknowns are vita to freedom, hope, privacy, trust and curiosity. It sort of feels like the course went through all the ills released from Pandora's box and now we're just searching around for the dregs of hope.

I found the Nature of Uncertainty reading to be a bit frustrating, which in a way I guess was the point. The conclusion sort of sums up my frustration:

"This chapter has focused on the nature of uncertainty. The differences between

the essays highlight not only the wide range of perspectives that need to be

accommodated, but also that there is currently no accepted structure within

which to discuss uncertainty.... this chapter demonstrates that, while uncertainty

is relevant to every discipline and practice area, the attention and resources devoted

to conceptualizing it are very uneven."