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Conversational Cuts on Learning and Urban Resilience

Conversational Cuts on Learning and Urban Resilience

By Robin A. Chang, 9 May, 2019

Reconciling the conceptual and actual implications of urban resilience is struggle that should not only be taken up in later phases of scholarly discourses, but in early phases of developing academic education. Indeed, the process of epistemological untangling is something that we as educators as well as researchers should better confront. The former more so than the latter, as we might learn a thing or two from the process ourselves. My personal epiphanies in relation to this came about in a collaborative process that resulted from the City of Vancouver’s announcement that they were selected to join the 100 Resilient Cities network in 2015. While the municipal objectives to define and pursue a strategy towards urban resilience surfaced, a parallel and personal idea to follow this process and help students match policy and scholarly debates under this banner emerged as well. In late 2015, my Canadian colleague Meg Holden from SFU and I decided to collaborate on a pedagogical experiment which would foreground this narrative with intercultural and experiential learning through both formal (professor-student) and informal (peer-to-peer) levels of learning. We came together from different angles: Meg came from a position of interest for introducing field study experiences at SFU, and I mirrored her interest from a position of transactive learning. Little did we anticipate how the pedagogical aims of this adventure would challenge our own capacities to make sense of intrinsic and extrinsic learning, or the lack of documentation for such pedagogical processes. Both excited and somewhat tentative of our own abilities in setting up a project with consideration of the well-being and mental fulfillment of bodies beyond ourselves, discussions began in Vancouver regarding how we could approach such an experiment. The discussion’s spark ignited into subsequently, regular communications and momentum that literally ran around the clock. Since Dortmund is nine hours ahead of Vancouver, I eventually ended up working on the pedagogical project, and could almost seamlessly hand off tasks to Meg as my work-day wound down while hers took off. We both later realized that the human body can only handle so much efficiency.

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