We (the whole of the GSBC) spent a fairy tale kind of week on our first annual summer school at the Oppurg Castle in Thuringia. Well, that is, if fairy tales involve group work, deadlines, frantic search for information on the Internet(s) and much fumbling about trying to connect and translate ideas from many disciplines.
The group I was involved with had as its broad theme “innovation”. The first day was spent trying to agree on a “grid” (the “holy grid”, as it was jokingly referred to afterwards) to analyze innovation processes. Less work was spent trying to define “innovation”, as this was left as a matter of reflection when analyzing case studies, chosen by the PhD students, of what we suspected were instances of innovation.
The two chosen case studies were about “family constellations“, a method for spiritual healing propagated mainly by Bert Hellinger, and the Hulda project, an itinerant science and art festival that travelled by boat from Stockhom to Istanbul. Those were two really interesting and original cases I very much enjoyed hearing about. In the last day before presenting the results, we devoted some work to finding a consistent way to present both cases, compare them and find issues with the conceptual tools that we used in their analysis.
Particularly interesting was developing an input-process-output-outcome innovation cycle model, whereby the context of the innovation was first analyzed, then the way the innovation was developed, then how the innovation was embodied and put on the market, and finally the effect the innovation had on its environment, feeding back into a new cycle of innovation. Whether this model was too broad, that is, applicable to any development process, whether innovative or not, was a question left in the air after the end of the summer school.