Vibrant Ecologies of Research

Guest Editor: Dr. Aaron Knochel

Organizations like a2ru highlight a growing trend in higher education that the arts not only play a vital role in campus culture, but in research and teaching as well. Education researchers and major granting agencies have increasingly recognized the importance of artists’ and designers’ contributions to dynamic and evolving knowledge, community building, and cultural production. Whether it be an increasing emphasis on the fluidity of knowledge and inquiry through movements in S.T.E.A.M. or elevating the role the arts and education can play in some of our most vital professions in healthcare and medicine, creative practice is getting a lot of attention from academia.

Yet, while all of this discourse gushes on the impact of the arts, there is a lot to be learned about how to cultivate fertile ground for this vital work so that it is nimble and responsive in the fast-changing world of higher education. In other words, what are the elements necessary to create a vibrant ecology of research where art and design inquiry may flourish alongside, within, and out of social and physical science research that is so deeply embedded within the fiber of research-oriented universities? “Ecology” in this sense focuses on the relationships that bind component parts into ecosystems and may be used to understand a wide array of social and cultural production.

A2RU issues this call for submissions to a special edition of Ground Works.

In this special issue of Ground Works, we welcome submissions that focus on deepening our understanding of the institutional, social, and epistemological systems that effectively weave arts-based inquiry into the scholarly fabric of research. Vibrant ecologies of research call attention to the complex and nuanced articulations of how institutions, research groups, and organizations come together and what elements allow them to thrive. Thinking ecologically provides a systematic view while also attending to the material agencies, institutional architectures, and human interrelationships that nurture, foment, and/or cultivate deep disciplinary integration.

The Vibrant Ecologies of Research call for submissions suggests the following possible threads:

  • What forms of leadership, resources, and institutional structures most effectively impact research agendas across disciplines?

  • How might these entangled and productive ecosystems be analyzed or understood so that other institutions, scholars, and communities may benefit?

  • How does disciplinarity operate in these ecosystems? What are its material and human components and how may they be sustained?

  • How responsive are these ecologies so that they may remain vibrant, productive, and impactful in light of social and cultural upheaval? How may productive ecosystems respond to failure?

  • How might vibrant ecologies of research provide leadership and vision in models of diversity, equity and inclusion?

Submissions are encouraged to share mature case studies of practice but are also encouraged to deepen our understandings of systemic perspectives that affect these cases. Submissions should include concrete examples of the ecosystem in question—leveraging Ground Works capacity to feature rich media—as well as analysis or explication of the ecology. We are actively seeking submissions that further conversations focused on the vitality of arts-based inquiry in spaces of research that extend, augment, or mutate conceptions of knowledge, ethical decision making, and accessibility to research cultures. Ground Works encourages a wide array of submission types that incorporate multimedia to tell the story of your vibrant ecology of research.

Submissions from both academic and non-academic settings are welcome. Successful submissions will have achieved some initial recognition. They may be collaborative or sole-author, but should advance general understanding of how the arts and other disciplines can be successfully integrated. Selected submission will be included in a special issue of the Ground Works online, open-access showcase of exemplar projects, contributing to understanding of the practices that underlie arts-integrative and interdisciplinary work.

As with all submissions to Ground Works, submissions to Vibrant Ecologies of Research begin with a brief suitability review that includes a short summary of the project, a statement of relevance, and appropriate links (sign in to begin the submission process and see specific prompts). These are reviewed by Editors for fit with the Vibrant Ecologies of Research special issue, and with the scope and mission of the journal. There is an anticipated 10-day turnaround on decisions in Stage 1. Submitters may then be invited to the second project review stage (anticipated two-month turnaround), in which they provide a focused 1,000 word narrative, as well as media for their project. Stage 2 submissions will be examined by two external reviewers. Successfully evaluated projects are included in our online compendium, and their authors are invited to contribute reflections on their process and effective practice.

All submissions must be received by Friday, March 12, 2021.

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