EPIC2022 explores resilience, the ability to learn, adapt and evolve with adversity and changing conditions.
Current health, climate and political crises highlight the systemic and interconnected nature of disruption and survival. They foreground questions of who should flex, resist, or adapt; and what should be restored, abandoned, or reinvented. Resilience invites us to examine and enhance the ways organizations, products, services, communities, and our own work can be designed to learn, adapt and evolve.
With roots in systems theory, ‘resilience’ now spans a wide array of ideas and practices to signal a more effective posture toward uncertainty and adversity. Resilience—of a person, product, community, organization, industry, business model, supply chain, or even a virus—is not just an internal quality, like having enough flexibility or grit to withstand an external shock. It is about the social, technical, and ecological interdependencies that ethnographers are in a unique position to illuminate and help re-form.
Creating value in our own organizations requires new kinds of resilient relationships across traditional boundaries of users, markets, shareholders, funders or constituencies. Join us in Amsterdam to employ, critique, and extend ideas and practices of resilience.
Topics of interest include:
Change, adaptation and survival
Resilience often refers to the ability to rebound in the face of a disaster or external shock, but it requires much more than preparing an emergency response or recovering from a disruption to the status quo. Resilience holds a tension between continuity and change, adaptation and persistence. What continuities are we invested in—a product, a growth curve or market share, a cultural value, community, or territory? And what changes, failures or innovations are we designing for? When radical shifts are necessary, as they are in the face of climate change, how can ethnographers draw on a deep, cross-cultural understanding of social change to help people and organizations learn, adapt, and evolve?
Resilient systems and relationships
Resilience pushes us to understand the way organizations, communities, products, policies and services exist in interdependent systems. It challenges us to build healthy and enduring relationships. It invests researchers, designers, and strategists in multiple social and natural systems, calling on us to reimagine the boundaries of typical project or product cycles. How does ethnography help us understand these systems and build enduring relationships?
‘More than human’–centered
The evolution of ‘resilience’ in ecosystems theory highlights the importance of moving beyond human-centered models. How can ethnography—allied with fields like circular and transition design, natural and ecosystems sciences, computer science, engineering, and others—create a more resilient foundation for our endeavors?
Resilient ethnography, ethnography of resilience
A global pandemic presented a radical disruption to the status quo of ethnographic practice, re-animating debate about the resilience of ethnography itself. What aspects of ethnography have adapted and changed, and what core principles should not be compromised? Has the pandemic been the ‘mother of invention’, or a loss of ground to remote ‘ethnography lite’? Meanwhile, what unique aspects of ethnographic theory and practice shed light on the question of resilience itself?
Drawing on these themes of resilience, how are organizations adapting and evolving their business models, product strategies, work processes, organizational and team culture, planning and risk management?