The Oxford Protocol : Modules


The call poses the possibility of “new nodes of knowledge” and “new modes of circulating” to be built onto a new platform.   Both it, and some of the modules, cast this as an alternative to disciplinarity.

Disciplines have long served as platforms, but there is considerable variation to consider

  1. some disciplines have strong methodologies, tightly defined protocols for investigation that can migrate across fields (i.e. the economics of education, the history of science)—they center on the “how” of knowledge production/curation/accreditation.  They sometimes form sub-disciplines that can, over time, become new ones.
  2. others have topics, or fields that define their territory (English literature) on which somewhat different methodological tools can be brought to bear—they center more on the “what.”
  3. Some have less center, and wider areas—they loosely collect different disciplines and faculty lines, often in schools rather than departments (business, education) with experts, courses, and resources bringing in disciplines at a smaller scale (one economist, one historian, etc.)
  4. Still others produce knowledge and scholars within areas, but rarely have a disciplinary or a departmental home.  Organizational studies, or environmental studies, for example, may create new scholars in programs but scatter them out across different kinds of departments and schools (some org to business, to education, to health sciences; some environmental studies now to English departments?)

As people in these variously sited spaces consider stuckness, they may push against the constricting and constraining structures of strong disciplines, or try to pull in some of the stabilizing structures and resources that departmental or disciplinary status offer.  We either have too much of that stability, or too little.

The Re:Enlightenment project has centered around neither methodology nor field.  It doesn’t fit within any one discipline; it does not (as far as I know) have aspirations to become one.  It does not rest on an assumption of the value of interdisciplinary; it raises the question of dedisciplinary.  It has articulated a small (tiny) set of “touchstones” in which people have found common interest, and from which they have been able to develop new kinds of work:

These touchstones are different in nature from the traditional tools and protocols and methodologies of disciplinarity.  They are, in fundamental ways, less disciplining; they are less confined to or owned by any particular field.  Are they new nodes? They have, over the past few years, demonstrated their potential for collegial exchange and collaborative work.  Are these new modes of circulating that we have experimented with adequate to the task?  They served, and served well, the purpose of sparking conversation, exchange, and connections.  Can they now be Re:purposed to anchoring the structure of a platform?

Oxford Group, January 2014: Academy Turned Inside Out | Apotheosis | Core Technology | The Dedisciplinary Environment | Explanatory/Descriptive? | Fiction | Good Explanation | Mediation | Platform | Polemic | Portal | Problems | Protocol | Protocol (II) | Search*/Know* | Sciences/Humanities | Stuckness | Threshold Effects | Topology | Touchstones