Back to the list of presented papers
Back to the list of abstracts
Pulling down the academic ivory tower: an experiment in creative thinking in a bureaucratic environment
This paper reports on and analyzes a large-scale cooperative learning experiment, where civil servants of the city of Amsterdam, with their inherent focus on feasible solutions, were confronted with Masters students and researchers from the University of Amsterdam, with an equally inherent focus on the exploration of what is thinkable, leading to achievable outcomes meeting the demands of citizens. The basic idea behind this experiment was that gearing projects to enhance the effective use of ICT by civil society can effectively benefit from triangulating the city-citizen relationship with communities of knowledge such as universities. Throughout the experiment, the learning by sharing model was applied in order to break through ingrained learning patterns and traditional learning roles of the students, civil servants, citizens and teachers involved.
The effects on the major participants involved were salient: (1) the public servants felt challenged by the confrontation with the community of knowledge formed by the students, the teachers and the external experts; (2) the students felt challenged by the appeal to match feasible with thinkable and above all to produce achievable results. The critical success factors appear to be the organized disruption caused by the triangulation, the clear-cut introduction of a comprehension phase prior to policy making and the combination of bottom-up approach and top-level support.