The Waterloo Applied Complexity and Innovation Seminars began in Fall 2008. Hosted by SiG@Waterloo, it is the first phase in the development of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity & Innovation (WICI). Both the seminar series and WICI will integrate knowledge from the University’s faculties, departments, centres and schools to address the most pressing problems of the 21st century.
WICI is being created to facilitate transdisciplinary, collaborative research focused on promoting innovation and resilience within the complex adaptive systems at the core of human well being in the 21st century. In the coming decades, rapid systemic change on multiple levels will contribute to global problems, potentially inducing pandemics, violent meteorological events, and social and political unrest. The weakening of national public institutions, widening gaps between rich and poor, increasing scarcity of high-quality energy, and worsening damage to the global environment coupled with increased global connectivity will erode systemic resilience and boost the incidence of surprising and even catastrophic change.
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A knowledge commons refers to conceptual spaces where the boundaries between diverse locations of knowledge creation, forms of knowledge and uses of knowledge are diminished. In such a commons, we are better able to address complex economic, social and environmental issues that confront us locally, nationally and around the world. Our proposition is that lowering the barriers that separate knowledge is desirable and necessary.
A group of socially engaged individuals from Waterloo and Wellington Counties are convening throughout 2009 to think creatively about what our communities might look like by the year 2020. This on-going and co-creative process is known as Scenario Thinking.
By creating a space for thinking deeply together about and across their collective community-related activities, this group of people are embarking upon a journey to explore a variety of future scenarios for this region. Our hope is that this stimulating, collaborative activity will help transform Waterloo and Wellington into exemplary communities with the capacity to reflect, learn and design steps forward to a future scenario that, for now, we can only imagine. The group met in Elora for a 3-day workshop from April 22-24, 2009 and have continued to meet both collectively and in smaller groups.