This post is written by Minou Schillings, a Dutch participant from Malta.
For me professions, cultures and even passions, are like languages. Every profession has its own way of communicating, its own behavioural rules and jargon. To be able to communicate effectively in any industry, one has to become familiar with “the lingo”.
This is why I attended the SciCulture course: to learn and discover more about the language of science and transdisciplinarity. Afterall, to flourish in my passion for innovation, I need to be able to speak multiple languages. A couple years ago I started participating in hackathons, innovation weeks and think tanks. The more out of my comfort zone, the better. I love meeting people I would normally not meet and having conversations I would normally not have. When I received the acceptance email from the SciCulture team, I was immediately excited for the cross sectoral working, combining industries and problem solving all in one programme. This is what I had been looking for, but what I got was unexpected. I learned how to communicate with people from different disciplines and backgrounds, and met several wonderful people I would not have come across otherwise.
The overall aim of the course was to envision the future of education. As someone who is used to a structured programme with aims, objectives and a clear end product, this experience was an adventure. I could tell immediately that such an approach wasn’t adopted. Instead, I found myself in a team with starkly different ways of observing, talking and thinking, including a post-humanistic philosophical approach to life. This was the start of one mind blowing week. We immersed ourselves in a week-long intense discussion about education, the future, normative boundaries and open spaces alongside varied activities.
During the week we also discussed the limitations of language and the problems of accepting the status quo. We explored the difficulties of discarding the normative approach to education and the courage and strength needed to look further than we can imagine. We often disagreed on many subjects, and it became clear how difficult it can be to arrive at a mutually agreed upon understanding of a given situation, let alone agreeing on a way to deal with it.
By Thursday, we had a lot of loose ideas — and a creative presentation on Friday. We decided that producing a rigid end product would annul all the discussions we had during the week and instead, mixed multiple elements: a combination of drawings, sculptures, poems, performance videos and most importantly, silence. Our art exhibition and videos were presented in complete silence. That was perhaps my biggest takeaway from this experience. Sometimes to make progress we have to be silent, and stand still, to arrive at a new understanding of one another.