National Charrette Institute taught engagement strategies at Work in the Age of Intelligent Machines Workshop at Michigan State University
NCI was asked to create and facilitate a series of interactions during a workshop designed to produce an agenda for research on the social, economic and policy implications of autonomous vehicles and to propose infrastructure to support that research.
One of the strategies that we teach in the NCI Charrette System certificate training is to get people moving right away in the first engagement used in a charrette.
While there are many ways to energize participants to engage in an event’s activities, NCI charrettes utilize a simple sticky wall exercise to jump start a workshop, get people thinking and interacting right away, and gain valuable feedback from them.
Not surprisingly, engaging participants in active thinking during research workshops can also be productive. The National Charrette Institute was asked to create and facilitate a series of interactions during a workshop designed to produce an agenda for research on the social, economic and policy implications of autonomous vehicles, and to propose infrastructure to support that research.
This was the first in a series of workshops sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s Research Collaboration Network on Work in the Age of Intelligent Machines (NSF IIS-1745463). The MSU Center for Business and Social Analytics, in cooperation with the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and the School of Planning, Design and Construction co-sponsored the event.
The workshop brought together participants from diverse backgrounds (business, government, geography, history, psychology, computer science, urban planning and more) to identify research themes related to the social, economic and policy aspects of this emerging technology.
Researchers from around the globe convened at Michigan State University in May 2018 for a two-day workshop filled with shared learning and networking, and developed a social science research agenda.
The NCI worked with the conference steering committee to define a focus and outcome for the workshop; an enormous feat given the breadth and depth of potential topics.
During breakouts, NCI facilitated sticky wall exercises to unearth all of the potential research questions that participants had, organize them and, then, flesh them out. The result was a collaborative white paper explaining the results of the workshop and recommendations for moving forward that will be available to the public soon.
Aside from the workshop being endlessly interesting, it validated some of the principles of facilitation and management that are core to the NCI Charrette methodology.
In the space that the workshop provided to think about our collective future and the impacts of disruptive technologies—both positive and negative—we also rediscovered the adaptability of the charrette framework and how a community might use it to approach emergent technologies or issues.
Even though many at the workshop had little experience with autonomous vehicles, they had skills that related to the topic, and the charrette process served as both an introduction, as well as an organizing exercise. It also reinforced one of NCI’s principles: That there is great value in people holding different perspectives working together toward a common solution.