Friday, March 30, 2007

ideas, evidence, & questions

Purpose of this assignment is 1) to begin your exploration into potential research topics and 2) publish the results of this first look to facilitate choosing research groups.

In the seminar we use the film submission as our sample case study that introduces a contemporary social issue (the film and subsequent murder) through the lens of pragmatic tolerance. Your task is to explore Amsterdam for issues, places, contexts, or other aspects of people doing or refusing to do things together. Once you find a candidate topic or phenomenon of interest you will organize it in terms of ideas, evidence, and questions..

You can expect your research topic to evolve as you learn more about the topic and the components of the research design. Your goals are to begin your exploration and to present your initial findings for the purpose of finding common interests among your classmates.

There are a number of points of entry to begin this task. The obvious ones are Google and Wikipedia. You can also look at the kinds of research being done at VKS:

VKS projects
VKS publications

Another possibility to consider is a project that Paul Wouters is organizing for us. Paul is in conversation with the Westergasfabriek Culture Park for for creativity, art and enterprise, a unique space that can be viewed as a microcosm of Amsterdam. Paul poses the following macro level question: “Can the Westergasfabriek terrain be converted into an integrated research environment for cultural and social research and design?" Paul is putting together some materials to introduce this project and will include some smaller sample questions that address different ways of approaching the larger question.

What to do: Find a general topic area of interest and break down into the three components of our research framework: ideas, evidence, and questions.

: is this of issue you know something about? If so, what are your initial thoughts? If not, what are others saying about it?

: What sort of research questions might be asked? What do you want to know? What problem needs to be solved?

: Where is the field location? Where would you find evidence in your efforts to answer the research question(s).

Here’s the definition of research question we introduced in class. Use it as a guide rather than law:

For our purposes a research question is one that guides examination of a societal phenomenon, through a dialog involving ideas, evidence and the re-formulation of our questions. By society we mean people doing (or refusing to do) things together.

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