This project promises to reconfigure the relation between the practice of academic inquiry in the human sciences and the knowledge to which it gives rise. Conventional research protocols expect the scholar to treat the world as reserve from which to draw empirical material for subsequent interpretation in light of appropriate theory. Against this, we will establish and trial an alternative procedure whereby theory is not applied after the fact, to a corpus of material already gathered, but rather grows from our direct, practical and observational engagements with the stuff of the dwelt-in world. Theoretical thinking, then, is embedded in observational practice, or knowing in being, rather than vice versa. This way of knowing, by studying with things or people instead of making studies of them, has long been key to anthropology. It is also, however, central to arts practice, as it is to the contingent disciplines of architecture and design. All four disciplines offer paths to knowing-in-being which challenge the division between data gathering and theory building that underwrites normal science. By bringing them together, this project will customise this general approach to knowing to specific contexts of practice including landscape management, craft heritage, environmental conservation, building and restoration, drawing and notation. Our method will be distinguished by observation and experiment, the outcomes of which will be not just written texts but works of art or craft, performances and installations. The project will contribute to both education and design for sustainable living through a renewed emphasis on the improvisational creativity and perceptual acuity of practitioners. It will promote the dissemination of knowledge through shared experience, and advance a new view of interdisciplinarity as an intertwining of lines of interest.

  • Status
  • Completed
  • Project Launch
  • 01 September 2013
  • Project completed
  • 31 August 2016
knowledge acquisition theoretical thinking observational practice