2012 Working Groups

2012 Working Groups:


The official descriptions of the working groups are below, but here you can find some of the materials used either as background for the working groups or in the presentations done at the end of C2C:


Working Group Name Files
Interpreting Texts Nothing here yet!
Education Failure A blog post about C2C
Cold Heaven: The Failure of Success Prezi from the presentation

Summary chart

Challenging Epistemic Failure Nothing here yet!
Unravelling Failures of Equity and Diversity Working Group Slides

Presentation Slides

Failure Illuminates Nothing here yet!
Failure and International Development Nothing here yet!
Leveraging Failure The ABCs of Leveraging Failure
Mechanisms for Addressing Failure in our Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Programs Handout

Condensed Notes

You Probably Don’t Care About Math Education, But Maybe You Should Handout

Interpreting Texts – Kami Valkova

We acquire much of our information through texts and papers put forward by others. Although there is a belief that the text must be presenting accurate information, it is not always the case. Written work, and the interpretation of said work, is often affected by biases and misconstrued data which can be shrouded by “flowery language”. How might we then overcome these biases? How can an interdisciplinary view help to reduce the negative effects of bias?

Education Failure – Tyler Nelson

Education is the process through which knowledge and skill transcend generations of people. It serves to educate the masses about everything from morality to science. The education system must therefore evolve as society evolves. It evolved with the Industrial Revolution taking on a factory line format with students entering, being worked on, and coming out workers. Society evolved again, beyond the factories, unfortunately the education system failed to evolve with it. Unless the system evolves to meet the needs of society, education will become obsolete and society will need a new method of ensuring functionality into the future. Discuss the current problems with the education system, current solutions to these problems, and synthesize new solutions to advance and evolve the education system.

Cold Heaven: The Failure of Success – Brianna Smrke, Michael Hewlett, Simon Gooding-Townsend

The “cold heaven” of Westley, Zimmerman and Patton’s social innovation handbook Getting to Maybe, is a sudden loss of satisfaction, a collapse of ideals and a feeling of rootlessness that seems like an endless landscape. Cold heaven does not discriminate. Launched by initial success but immobilized by its own momentum, innovation becomes procedural and disconnected from a highly changing context. Frozen by memories of success, innovators find themselves unable to cope – unable to respond. How do we recognize cold heaven and can we use it to jump off the pedestal of success?

Challenging Epistemic Failure – Eric Kennedy

In a world of incredible complexity, we are regularly dependent on the advice and expertise of others. Given what we know about the fallibility of our own thinking, though, can we actually trust these others, let alone ourselves? In this working group, we will use tools from the study of epistemology to investigate these uncomfortable failures in our thinking (both theoretically and based in the practical experiences of the participants) and seek ways to avoid these pitfalls in the future. In general, we will consider three key topics in the contemporary study of epistemology: individual-level critical thinking, the social epistemology of collaboration, and the nature of trust and expertise.

Unravelling Failures of Equity and Diversity – Kyrie Vala-Webb

Systems of inequity, injustice, and privilege rely on the apathy and inaction of members of the dominant, power-holding groups. By recognizing the failures of our society in addressing these issues, and the parts that we ourselves play in perpetuating these power dynamics, we can begin to make change. So often, however, our failure to recognize our failings in equity and diversity is the most challenging barrier to change, since it renders invisible the harm caused by our systems, and our own contributions to this harm. Thus this conference allows us to examine our failures and use them, not to ignite anger or assign blame, but as catalysts to recognizing the need for change and asking how we might accomplish it.

Failure Illuminates – Robert Gooding-Townsend

We will discuss, in detail, the idea that learning necessarily stems from failure. We will start by using basic information theory and probability, as well as empirical observations, to justify this model. Then, we will apply it to diverse areas such as theories of consciousness, the falsificationist model of science, and the importance of the IgNobel prizes. Finally, we will discuss ways in which this model can be applied to improve performance in school, on scales ranging from the individual to the entire system.

Failure and International Development – Alexandra Epp, Jeremy Henderson

Failure in the field of international development is inevitable, invaluable, yet absolutely unthinkable. Inevitable because there have been few if any international development projects that have been absolute successes across the board, invaluable because each failure brings valuable insight for future projects, and unthinkable because in this sensitive field failure can come at the cost of human life. To address the issue of failure in International Development means to learn from the past, and in doing so move forward in a way that is informed, and responsible.

Leveraging Failure – Benjamin Carr, Prateek Gupta, Jyssika Russel, David Sands

This working group will explore how we as individuals, and as a society, understand and deal with failure. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to synthesizing some existing theories, and will then focus our learning around the experiences of the members of our group. The primary goal of this workshop is that each individual will walk away more aware and better equipped to use personal failure as a tool for improving their own lives, and the lives of those around them.

Mechanisms for Addressing Failure in our Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Programs – Leanna Katz, Caroline Kassee, Rachel Eikelboom

Failure results when we do not learn and grow from when things don’t work. When students do not feel they are benefiting from a course, when we feel like our program lacks a cohesive vision, when we feel like our curriculum is weak in a certain area, when there is a sense of stagnation: how do we deal with these failures? How do we address the problem effectively and come up with a solution using input from those who are affected?

We will start with an in-depth look at the benefits and drawbacks of using closed and open forums. This discussion will touch on points such as increasing student engagement, developing a curriculum and program vision with considerable input from students, increasing student-professor communication and what kind of communities forums can work in. Further, we will draw from academic literature on education and explore the strengths and weaknesses of proposed mechanisms to strengthen university education. We will also discuss the systems for improving education that our different programs use and the associated benefits and drawbacks. Finally, we will establish a list of useful practices for improving education, with the working group participants mindful of how they may be applied in their own programs.

You Probably Don’t Care About Math Education, But Maybe You Should – Irena Papst and Nigel Pynn‐Coates

The failure of the math education system to convey the true nature of mathematics is important to discuss as it turns many intelligent, creative people off math, which is huge loss to both them and the field. Math is beautiful and it is often vital to other disciplines that people should be able to have an appreciation of it. Moreover, it has the capacity to shape the way students think for the better, which is something of major concern to all interdisciplinary programs. Unfortunately, the current way of teaching math does not truly capitalize on this ability until upper undergraduate years, at which point many are no longer required to pursue any study in the field.