Democratizing Knowledge: How can we facilitate community-based projects without leading them?
Any time students and professors are engaging with the community on a project, there are many different power dynamics at work. When it comes to more technical or specialized knowledge, the degrees and prestige granted by one’s association with a university makes the expert/non-expert dynamic even more pronounced. Recognizing that, in the interest of mutually beneficial partnerships where the learning flows in all directions, it is important to take steps to breakdown these hierarchies, this community of practice event invites participants to consider what it would take to meaningfully level the playing field.
By recognizing the presence and the impact of the academic gaze, what steps can we take to address it? What participatory practices might enable us to value and integrate less formalized ways of knowing and non-academic expertise? What would change if we modeled these same practices in our classroom? How can we best support our students as they learn to work more collaboratively with their community partners and each other?
Together, we will explore what it means to take democracy seriously in space and time. As professors and urban practitioners, how can we become facilitators rather than leaders? How can we make sure that the technical expertise we have to offer doesn’t stop the community from running the show?
Silvano De la Llata is an architect, an urbanist and an educator. For the last 15 years, his research has focused on public space and the study of alternative uses, such as street vending, graffiti, public assembly and protest, as design/planning agents. He did research and participated in the Indignados mobilizations in Barcelona, Occupy Wall Street and other social movements in 2011 and 2012. Building on this experience, he directs the project CitiesXCitizens, which focuses on the democratization of planning and urban design through participatory design methodologies and open-source systems. Bridging research, pedagogy and design practice, he developed urban design methodologies, open planning and planning-in-situ, to redesign interstitial spaces in Montreal through collaborative community engagement.
This is the final of four meetings of the Living Knowledge community of practice during the 2016-2017 academic year. The Living Knowledge community of practice brings together faculty and staff who share a passion for community engaged scholarship, with the goal of creating connections, sharing ideas and strengthening our collective practice. Students, community organizers and representatives from other universities are also welcome. For more information, or to RSVP, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.