What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Real Occupy Think Tank

So Friday I met with a Think Tanker about moving things to the next level.  We have been thinking for months (really since its inception for me) about creating a true research institution surrounding the work and issues we are focusing on at Occupy.  We met about trying to make this happen.  There are three of us that may really be interested in working on it.  We don't really have plans as much as guidelines.  But it is a good thing to move forward with.  The general concept was free-written as such:

We would structure this research institute under different auspices and governance structures than found in typical institutions.  We would incorporate a horizontal decision making structure into a managerial structure sharing input throughout ll levels of the institute and its research process.  Focusing on horizontal ideals while still working to maximize efficiency and expertise.  The research process would be facilitated by trained intellectuals doing research and working to guide projects on specific areas of interest and expertise.  These individuals would work within their main areas of inquiry or subject matter, but would largely be responsible for managing information and what would mostly be crowd sourced research supplemented/done by the general public.  The teams would be open and charged with briding public participation in reaserch and ideas while working with the scientifically valid research methods.  The idea would create a think tank that was far broader than a few PhD's sitting in stuffy rooms reading books, but for qualified intellectuals to act as  facilitators and discussion/project leaders aiming at producing a research process that includes and brings to the fore the public's voices and ideas both in terms of subjects and as researchers. 

From a methodological perspective, the research process would include at least four areas of data collection:
  1. The general public on the ground. Open discussions, town hall style roundtables, community lead research/questions. This would take the form of individuals going out into public/private spaces (in cooperation with local community groups), asking questions, and engaging in public dialog with citizens and local communities.
  2. An expansive web presence that would act as an idea/information conduit and repository that would open information and research to the public and researchers.
  3. There would still be standard academic styled research and discourse.
  4. Survey or phone based sampling to try to include everyday citizens into the dialog. This could be part of number 1.
The key component to this think tank would be a foundation based on open/crowd sourcing of the research, and teams of researchers that could be anyone and everyone from throughout the process.  At every level of society you can have a conversation with people with profound ideas and initiative; from CEO's to carpenters, there is intellect everywhere.  All the researching, writing, editing, and decision making would be done by and for us - the people.  With a large focus on engaging the general public both in the process of learning and engaging with their voices while coming to outcomes, options, and policy suggestions.  We believe that this will put individuals and groups that have traditionally been on the periphery, or marginalized throughout the whole process of intellectual creation, at the forefront of understanding and recreating their own social, political, and economic outcomes.  

The research focus itself would be within Occupy's principles and interests of political, economic, and social justice.  The research would however not inherently be done on the Occupy movement itself, but focused on doing research that viewed the world through the prism of an occupied lens and used this as its analytical and thematic point of departure. The institute would be designed to become the nexus for the ideas, research, and actions surrounding and produced by the Occupy movement.

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