disConferencing, a five-and-a-third-hour model

On Friday 23 March well over 100 people attended a “dis/Conference” (http://www.currenciesdisconference.info/) “to facilitate open, horizontal education through substantive knowledge sharing, inquiry, critique, and discussion.”  The specific topic was “Currencies… [and the ways that d]ebt, labor, commodification, ownership, and consumerism structure and characterize contemporary life and academia,” with commentary by special guest David Graeber.  This blog post suggests a way that participants’ interests and energies could have been engaged over the five hours of the “dis/Conference.”

Preparation by organizers (say 10 people)

  1. Make a selected reading (e.g., from Graeber) available via a conference website (and remind registrants to read this in advance).
  2. Copy 2-sided instructions handout for each participant.
  3. Initiate a listserv and have it ready on internet-connected laptops at registration for participants to subscribe to (if they choose).
  4. Familiarize yourselves with the session arrangements and divide up session coordinator and general organizer tasks for each session.
  5. Provide minimal refreshments (large water bottles for participants to decant into their own; snacks (carrots, nuts, crackers, fruit) that can be taken away in bags at any time.  Set out a donation box for monetary contributions.

Information on website

Learning goals—For participants to gain new insights about

  1. “Currencies… [and the ways that d]ebt, labor, commodification, ownership, and consumerism structure and characterize contemporary life and academia.”
  2. Tools and processes “to facilitate open, horizontal education through substantive knowledge sharing, inquiry, critique, and discussion.”  In particular, to learn about the 4Rs approach: “A well-facilitated collaborative process keeps us listening actively to each other, fostering mutual Respect that allows Risks to be taken, elicits more insights than any one person came in with (Revelation), and engages us in carrying out and carrying on the plans we develop (Re-engagement).  What we come out with is very likely to be larger and more durable than what any one person came in with; the more so, the more voices that are brought out by the process” (http://wp.me/p1gwfa-nC).

Experiential goals (how will the process affect your way of being)—Participants experience

  1. of gaining insights about the Currencies topic excites them about extending conversations about the topic beyond the dis/Conference (in time and in who participates).
  2. of engagement in the tools and processes using the 4Rs approach excites them to seek out and pursue other engagements in a similar manner, in particular, to “connect quickly with others who are almost ready… to foster participatory processes and, through the experience such processes provide their participants, contribute to enhancing the capacity of others to do likewise.” (Taylor 2005, Unruly Complexity, p. 225).

Please bring your own water bottle, notebook, and, if you have one, a web-connected smart phone or laptop.

Note that at registration you will be asked to specify one thing that you want help thinking about (e.g., how to get the word out about events at Lucy Parsons radical bookstore and community space, how to build an audience for my next book on …,).

(continued in next post)

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About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, http://bit.ly/NNN2014). On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012, http://bit.ly/TYS2012).

One Response to disConferencing, a five-and-a-third-hour model

  1. Pingback: One-day Connecting-Probing-Reflecting (CPR) workshop | Probe—Create Change—Reflect

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