Who we are

Radical Methodologies is a group that explores counter-conventional approaches to research and practice across varied contexts and disciplines. The group’s activities support the development of epistemologically sensitive approaches to situations characterised by complexity, conflicting values, and uncertain boundaries.

Given the systemic complexity of contemporary challenges, questions of methodology are increasingly important. Yet, there remains a tendency to reduce methodological considerations to processes of selection between known methods and techniques. The work of RaM looks to question the roots of methodological assumptions (hence radical – from the Latin radix, or root) and to promote exchange between discourses that tend to get separated out by institutional, disciplinary and departmental structures.

RaM hosts regular events, facilitating the exchange of methodological insight amongst researchers and practitioners and maintaining a strong and active connection to the university’s doctoral postgraduate taught community. Members of the group sustain and develop collaborative partnerships with individuals and organisations externally. Current focuses include feminisms, radical pedagogies, cybernetics, radical constructivism, design activism, meta-design, radical positions in ethics, design research and the philosophy of science, and trans- and post-disciplinary perspectives.

If you are interested in applying to join the group, please contact Sally Sutherland by email: S.C.Sutherland@Brighton.ac.uk

Wicked possibilities – readings

Wicked possibilities: designing in and with systemic complexity webinar 15th July 2020
The readings listed below accompany the pre-recorded presentations and event. These readings may enable you to follow up on ideas discussed in the pre-recorded presentations or during the event if desired. 
 
Dubberly, H., & Pangaro, P. “Cybernetics and Design: Conversations for Action.” In Design Cybernetics: Navigating the New, edited by Thomas Fischer and Christiane M. Herr, pp 61-74. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2019.
 
Fischer, T. Narratives of exploration: From “Failure is not an option” to “Try again, Fail again. Fail better”, Kybernetes, in print, (2020).
 
Perera, Dulmini. “Wicked Problems, Wicked Play.” Formakademisk 13, no. 2 (2020).
 
Rittel, H., & Melvin Webber. “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning.” Policy Sciences 4, no. 2 (1973): 155-169.
 
Tham, M. “Dirty Design (or A Bloody Mess) : In Celebration of Life Affirming Design.” In Design and Nature: A Partnership, edited by Kate Fletcher, Louise St Pierre and Mathilda Tham, pp 136-143. London: Routledge, 2019.

Thomas Fischer – Wicked possibilities

Radical Methodologies are joined by Thomas Fischer to discuss Wicked Possibilities.

This is a pre-recorded presentation for an event taking place on 15th July 2020.

To cite this presentation:

Fischer, T. “Narratives of exploration.” Presentation at Wicked Possibilities: Designing in and with systemic complexity [webinar], University of Brighton, UK, July 15, 2020. Available at https://vimeo.com/437488305

Mathilda Tham – Wicked possibilties

Radical Methodologies are joined by Mathilda Tham to discuss Wicked Possibilities.

This is a pre-recorded presentation for an event taking place on 15th July 2020.

To cite this presentation:

Tham, M. “Wicked possibilities.” Presentation at Wicked Possibilities: Designing in and with systemic complexity [webinar], University of Brighton, UK, July 15, 2020. Available at https://vimeo.com/436882571

 

Paul Pangaro – Wicked possibilities

Radical Methodologies are joined by Paul Pangaro to discuss Wicked Possibilities.

This is a pre-recorded presentation for an event taking place on 15th July 2020.

Pangaro, P. “Wicked Challenges need wicked possibilities” Presentation at Wicked Possibilities: Designing in and with systemic complexity [webinar], University of Brighton, UK, July 15, 2020. Available at https://vimeo.com/435519533/bef09fc699

https://vimeo.com/435519533/bef09fc699

Dulmini Perera – Wicked possibilities

Radical Methodologies are joined by Dulmini Perera to discuss Wicked Possibilities.

This is a pre-recorded presentation for an event taking place on 15th July 2020.

To cite this presentation:

Perera, D. “Wicked possibilities: Designing in and with systemic complexity.” Presentation at Wicked Possibilities: Designing in and with systemic complexity [webinar], University of Brighton, UK, July 15, 2020. Available at https://vimeo.com/437372936

 

Wicked possibilities: designing in and with systemic complexity

Wicked possibilities: designing in and with systemic complexity was a webinar hosted by Sally Sutherland, Ben Sweeting and Tom Ainsworth.

This event opened up questions, exploring ways of acting and designing in situations where consensus is not possible or even desirable. Please see the outline belowThe event took place on 15th July 2020. This was a transdisciplinary event, attended by people from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds.

The event hosted guest speakers Dulmini PereraPaul PangaroMathilda Tham and Thomas Fischer. These speakers were invited as their work and ideas influenced the framing of the event. Each guest presented aspects of their work that responds to the ideas and questions outlined below in pre-recorded presentations and during conversations at the event.

Please click on the name of the speaker to take you to their pre-recorded presentation: Dulmini Perera, Paul Pangaro, Mathilda ThamThomas Fischer.

Wicked possibilities: Designing in and with systemic complexity

Design is increasingly concerned with systemic complexity. This follows, in part, from the interconnected nature of contemporary design questions, which are characterised by conflicting values, unpredictable interdependencies, and uncertain boundaries. In response, many designers and researchers have positioned themselves to address questions of social transformation and sustainable development through ever more comprehensive approaches to designing, including frameworks such as metadesign, systemic design, socially responsive design, transition design, etc. At the same time, developments in machine learning and the contemporary entanglement of technologies with bodies, the social, political, and ecological mean that even design’s traditional domains now exhibit and participate in the complexity of social systems.

In the context of complexity, it is misleading to speak of solutions. In distinguishing “wicked problems” from those that are amenable to conventional problem solving, Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber (1973) spoke instead of “resolutions”, emphasising the need to “re-solve” wicked problems again and again (p. 160). In many contexts, a resolution to a wicked problem may last for some time before it needs to be re-addressed, and it is easy to slip into forgetting its temporary nature. In the most complex situations, however, moments of resolution can be partial and fleeting. A lasting resolution may even be undesirable as a design goal where it depends on establishing a consensus that reduces difference or obscures necessary debate.

What, then, is a designer to do if there are sometimes not even temporary resolutions at which to aim? If designers are to “avoid othering messiness” (Perera, 2020, abstract), conventional approaches to ambiguity, conflict, and contradiction need to be radically rethought. Rather than seeing these qualities as errors to be corrected, how might they be seen, as in design conversation, as potentially enriching? That is, how might designers see the wicked, not as something to be tidied away, tamed, or even resolved, but as something to work in and with? And how, given the present dominance of instrumental measures of success, might such an approach be possible?

Reference list

Perera, D. (2020). Wicked problems, wicked play: Fun machines as strategy. FormAkademisk – Research Journal of Design and Design Education, 13(2). doi:10.7577/formakademisk.3378

Rittel, H., & Webber, M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences, 4, 155-169.

The event was generously supported by Connected Futures, and the School of Architecture and Design.