Art & Science Collaboration: An Exercise in Conflict Transformation

In this study, Knology researchers used concepts from conflict theory to challenge prevailing notions of what is productive in art-science collaborations.

by Rebecca Joy NorlanderJohn FraserNezam ArdalanKate FlinnerUduak Grace ThomasMark Kesling
Jun 26, 2020

The authors explore the nature of art-science collaborations from a conflict theory perspective. They suggest that the traditional study of these collaborative forums has focused on the assumption that collaboration will necessarily achieve a common good through consensus and appreciation of shared goals. This research is based on two parallel efforts: The first was a series of roundtables that provided a safe space for artists and scientists to talk about the relationships between their fields. The second was an artist-led series of collaborations to advance public science literacy. The roundtables offered a unique opportunity for members to have sustained, facilitated interaction, a near impossibility in their disciplinary silos and the deeply rooted public perception of the art-science dichotomy. This tension served as a catalyst for creating a new understanding of art-science collaborations, one that does not seek to compromise either but allows for the richness of each to be parallel paths to knowledge. Using the lens of conflict transformation theory and an example of a successful art-science collaboration, the authors describe how a facilitated process leverages tension for deeper inquiry, and results in both product and process outcomes that still fully belong within each domain.

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