From the Good Ideas File: A Conference on What Went Wrong

I’ve seen an occasional conference session popping up here and there lately, but never a whole conference on how our great ideas, big projects and good intentions blew up all over us. So it looks to me like the Urban Research Network has done something pretty interesting here.  This social-sciences-researchers-with-an-activist-bent network is looking for dignified professionals who want to get together with their peers and discuss all the ways their work has gone wrong:

Members of the Twin Cities metropolitan area (Minneapolis & St. Paul, MN) in conjunction with the University of Minnesota are convening the first ever “What Went Wrong?” conference from July 11-12, 2014, dedicated to understanding and enhancing community-engaged research practices.

The “What Went Wrong?” conference will provide a space for those working for social justice to come together in active dialogue about what it means for communities and universities to practice deeply engaged research that is reflexive, questions power dynamics, and works toward shifts in practice.

One of the themes that runs through the book has to do with the power of unintended consequences, and one of the chapters actually calls on urban planning and economic development academics to get into the work of evaluating whether our long-term plans and strategies actually ever do any good.

So if they can do it, why can’t we?



chicken head
Photo source: eurleif, Flickr, Creative Commons.

2 thoughts on “From the Good Ideas File: A Conference on What Went Wrong

  1. Bob Long

    In a previous job, one of the well-meaning nfp community development corporations “bellied up.” After a few months, I suggested that we gather all the local community development corporations and the core people from the failed cdc to conduct a “post mortem.” This idea was no0t well-received since it was perceived as focusing on the negative. And so, the lessons to be learned about what not to do were lost. What a waste.

  2. XSC--Crockett, Mary

    LOL! This sounds pretty amazing. We have to learn from our mistakes…


    Mary H. Crockett, Community Development and Downtown Coordinator
    City of Xenia, Department of Development Office: 966 Towler Road, Mailing: 101 N. Detroit Street, Xenia, OH 45385
    Phone: 937.376.7286, Cell: 937.910.3667 Fax: 937.372.8151 Email:


    Downtown Xenia offers you the Ride of Your Life –
    A regional hub for business, entertainment, culture and active living.

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