Simon Grant

From Second Renaissance

I have a rather patchy and disjointed but long record of academic research, from while I was studying for my my PhD, awarded in 1991.

Research interests

As you can see from my own list of academic publications, I started out in the area of cognitive science and human-computer interaction in complex systems, where I was focusing on how humans inhabited complex tasks. Around 1998 I moved on to belonging to an early internet skills training outfit in the University of Liverpool, where I was looking particularly at web systems supporting students to recognise and evidence their skills — and this gradually evolved into the field of e-portfolios, culminating with my book on Electronic Portfolios published in 2009.

Recognising that e-portfolios were not much use without recognised standards of skills and competence, I moved on to the highly complex field of standardising the representation of frameworks of skills and competences, which led me into collaboration on a number of EU-funded R&D projects in this general area.

After the unit I was working with, Cetis, was dismissed from our host university, I found little more funding for research in these areas, and pivoted into rather less formal or explored, but more interesting areas of knowledge commons, wikis, non-hierarchical or collective governance, co-living, and the kind of personal development that is closer to therapy, dealing with emotions, patterns, trauma, healing — with my angle of how to do this collectively, mutually, collaboratively rather than through the "normal" channels of paid services.

You can see these more recent topics in my current wiki topic list, and an older list from 2021, including knowledge commons and ontological commoning. I have an ongoing strong interest in how collectivity and focus on questions can help us develop more useful and better quality research in all the currently vital regenerative areas.

Research questions

Here are a few: to be refined and developed, ideally in collaboration!

  • Following on from stage theories of adult development (Kegan, Wilber, and others), what learning, training or experiences can help individuals become more "developed" in a shorter time? Kegan notably wrote that he had seen hardly anyone under the age of 40 who was operating in his "5th order consciousness". Can we do better?
  • Some people (notably and rudely, Nora Bateson) have been critical of stage theory. What is the substance of those objections? Can we work towards a deeper integration which avoids the unquestioned assumptions of the "bad" things, such as capitalism, colonialism, left-hemisphere dominance (McGilchrist)?
  • How does personal, inner development "work" integrate with collective, shared development? Can we devise models of what is needed for their joint effectiveness? Does one usually lead, or are they actually inseparable?
  • What are the important issues that need to be addressed to facilitate the creation and maintenance of a massive, global availability, not just of information (there is plenty) but of structured learning resources?
  • Same question from a different perspective: how can we help people who want to learn important things to find their way to high-quality, reliable learning materials that are accessible and at their level?

Commentary

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See also