Design thinking and the arts for social change
Tavistock Institute staff Dr Kerstin Junge and Juliet Scott recently shared insights and findings from their current work at two symposia for Bowling Green State University’s (BGSU) Doctoral Programme in Organization Development and Change (OD&C).
The programme will bring 15 doctoral students in the final dissertation phase to visit the Tavistock Institute in May of 2022. BGSU has a long history in the field of Organization Development, with the first master’s degree offered in 1975. In May of 2022, they will bring their first doctoral cohort from this new programme to visit London as part of an international study tour. The students will focus on the historical roots of the social and behavioural sciences and share their action and applied research dissertations, collaborate with doctoral students in London, Amsterdam, and Paris, and work on a social impact project.
This collaboration began with two symposia given by Juliet Scott and Kerstin Junge. Having met students from the doctoral programme, Juliet and Kerstin are now looking forward to working with Steve Cady and his colleague Douglas Bellah to bring design and creative approaches to developing a rich, challenging and learningful programme when the doctoral cohort visit the Tavistock Institute in 2022.
At symposia, Juliet used her own artwork and other images to share her experience of developing as both an artist and an organisational consultant. She showed how these have fused into her identity as a practitioner and support her in curating arts-led organisational change as a consultant, artist and educator. Her talk sparked interest and discussion in using arts and poetry in developing pathos for the beneficiaries or subjects in the change system. She spoke of the idea of simultaneously integrating different identities and how this embodies working with paradox — bringing with it the tendency to split off the creative self performer, poet, musician, often as a defence against working with chaos and complexity. Juliet’s talk is now available to watch below.
Several of the doctoral students are using creative approaches as part of their social change work. One student enjoyed the way Juliet spoke of use and play with artistic terminology, curation, residencies, exhibiting in the Deepening Creative Practice with organisations program. She spoke of a similar thread in her own work, using musical language in change initiatives, for example, the lamentational meaning of the Blues signifying loss and history.
Kerstin’s talk was about using evaluation to better understand how design thinking is used to address major challenges: from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic to the question of climate change and its various environmental, social, and economic consequence on everyone’s lives. Against this background, the European Union has invested several million euros in a four-year-long initiative called Designscapes to experiment with seed funding such initiatives at various stages of innovation development (feasibility study, prototype, and scaling) and develop a capacity-building program to support them. Kerstin’s work as an evaluator supports learning by programme actors, generating evidence on user-driven innovation’s relative merits in the urban context. The talk provided some further background on the Designscapes initiative, including how it has integrated evaluation in its programme of work, sharing some key evaluation findings and offered some reflections on the benefits challenges of systematic and evaluative data collection in emergent public policy programmes.
Dr. Steve H. Cady, Director of the BGSU Doctoral Program, says, “collaborating with the Tavistock Institute’s faculty and students is a pillar of the learning experience we are designing. I’m grateful and excited to connect our students to the important historical roots of the field with an eye toward the future.”
The two talks did just that by speaking to the Institute’s tradition of rigorous, action-oriented, applied research and consultancy, illustrating ways in which both practitioners are innovating in the present day. These were also the aspirations of the excavational work that Juliet led with the TIHR archive to enable the Tavistock Institute to look forward and backwards simultaneously and to continue to work dynamically within the context of our times.
Juliet Scott: Art Supporting Organizational Development and Learning
Juliet has also been nominated for the Distinguished Educator Award (Organization Development and Change Division). The Organization Development and Change Division Distinguished Educator Award is used to honour an individual who has made exceptional contributions to organization development and change education scholarship and/or education practice.