What knowledge is useful?
Dean Kim Clark on “deeper data”
The School has always, from—like from the very beginning, the School’s always been close to practice. The idea has always been to develop knowledge that has power in practice. In part because it’s a professional school. It’s dedicated to the development of people who are going to be in practice. And so you want your teaching, your course development to be informed by practice, and in turn develop ideas that influence practice. There’s a nexus there that’s very powerful in the history of the School.
And so yes, for us the development of knowledge always has a kind of impact objective. Knowledge has impact in practice. But as the world has grown more complex, and as it has grown more turbulent, we recognize that those ideas that have real impact also need to be deeper. That is, they need to be informed by a deeper understanding of the phenomena. So it’s not just something that works today, or something that has a kind of resonance quality of, you know, a couple of years, and then it’s gone. We’re trying to do things that take us deeper into understanding the phenomena, so that the ideas we come up with are really grounded in enduring, more fundamental phenomena.
And so we’ve pursued a research strategy at the School for the last 25 years to take us deeper into the—and so that means more methodologies that not only are clinical in their character, not only use traditional forms of observation of phenomena, but also go after deeper data, looking for deeper patterns in the experience. And I think if you look at some of the work that’s been done over the last 20 years it has had real power. It has that character.
So we don’t abandon the time-honored and powerful methods of observation, and really clinical observation, but we add to them all sorts of new methods that allow us to see deeper patterns, and get underneath the patterns to find underlying phenomena. And we see the thing going back the other way. That is, ideas that start out in the, you know, in someone’s head who’s been immersed in practice turn out to affect practice. And that turns out to be what we’ve always done. And that continues to be the case.
And so, yeah, I think the School will continue to be a place that’s focused on ideas with power in practice.