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  • Writer's pictureMeghann Ormond

Capturing CUCo's vision & mission

Over this last year at the Centre for Unusual Collaborations (CUCo), we've been working to hone CUCo's values and mission.

As part of this, we ran a set of creative writing sessions for scholars from CUCo's Spark and Unusual Collaborations grant teams affiliated with the four EWUU Alliance universities (TU/Eindhoven, Wageningen University & Research, Utrecht University, and University Medical Centre Utrecht). The results of these efforts are now visible on the CUCo website in the form of a super-funky video (thanks for your out-of-this-world creativity, Flatland!) and a co-created vision statement that really manage to capture the essence of what CUCo is, what it means to scholars involved, and what it aspires to achieve. Check it all out below! And don't miss some of the beautiful haiku poems that emerged from the creative writing sessions below as well!

(Deep thanks to the ever-inspiring Carla Costa from Associação Renovar a Mouraria in Lisbon for giving me permission to use and adapt the structure of the manifesto creative writing session she first designed for the Migrantour network in 2021! What a powerful tool it's been for setting the course for both initiatives!)

The CUCo way

The Centre for Unusual Collaborations (CUCo) strives to nourish passion-fueled research, where scholars can find joy and grow as researchers and as humans. CUCo honours progress over perfection, process over outcome, eco over ego, and doing business as unusual. We are committed to fostering brave spaces that enable scholars to challenge the productivity-driven, competition-based, path-dependent individualism that has come to dominate academia. These take the form of collaborative, non-hierarchical, open, fair and inclusive approaches to inter- and transdisciplinary knowledge co-generation that are currently undervalued and under-supported in conventional academic frameworks.

We believe that good scholarship requires:

  • Explorativity: Expanding our curiosity about and appreciation for the perspectives, experiences and approaches of others that diverge from our own;

  • Non-conformity: Believing that more humane and equitable forms of collaboration are possible and striving to stay true to those ideals, despite the institutional and cultural barriers that we encounter;

  • Co-nurturance: Engaging in communication and collaborative co-learning practices that focus on building up instead of breaking down and listening to many instead of the shouting few;

  • Creativity: Embracing diverse ways of knowing both in becoming attuned to phenomena and in the design and development of our research processes and outputs;

  • Humility: Deepening our humility and reflexivity by recognising the limits of our own scholarly traditions, perspectives and skills;

  • Trust: Daring to be vulnerable together, by sensing, experimenting, learning from failure, and staying with the trouble.

To advance these values, we focus on four concrete fields:

  • Supporting research that brings together early and mid-career scholars with diverse profiles seeking to transcend disciplinary boundaries so as to contribute to addressing pressing challenges, in humane collaborations;

  • Gathering and documenting knowledge on the process of inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration to advance the body of knowledge and the accessibility of that knowledge to current and future research teams;

  • Facilitating and strengthening learning processes that enhance tentacular thinking and doing - drawing on multiple senses and modes of communication to creatively engage with complex realities - among scholars from diverse backgrounds;

  • Advocating for institutional structures that recognise and reward more nurturing, inclusive, transparent and sustainable ways for scholars to learn from and collaborate with one another, as part of an international ecosystem of like-minded initiatives.

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