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?