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Reflections on CIRI retreat

Category: Events| General

23 Oct 2014

In the last week of August 2014, many of us, who are part of CIRI went together for a retreat. Mostly to discuss and share the work of the book we are putting together, but most importantly (in a very personal level) to understand what it means to be part of CIRI. As a recent member it was meaningful and important to spend those days getting to know in a closer way, the work of other members of CIRI. To listen to their questions and inputs. To try to figure out how we envision the future of CIRI.

It was interesting to see the different topics and methodologies that are present in this research group. This of course does not come without tensions but the possibilities of collaboration and dialogue are present. This is very important. Research that’s part of CIRI goes from social movements, embodiment, fair trade, and many other topics. During the few days spent at the retreat those differences were brought to the table and constructive criticism permeated the environment. Breaking with the academic mode, we were asked to draw how we envision the future of CIRI. The difference in our approach was also visually evident. This dynamic turned out to be a relaxed experience in which we got to listen to some of the ideas behind the drawings.

So, why was the CIRI retreat an interesting and positive experience for me? It was in that environment, far from the institution, that I tried to understand what it means to be part of CIRI. A research group in which we don’t have to agree, our research is quite diverse but we can relate it to civic innovation in different ways. This retreat brought the opportunity to look at the work others are doing, but in my opinion (and most importantly) this provided the perfect setting to engage with people (colleagues) sharing a meal, having the chance to talk outside the busy-intense academic environment. It was an opportunity to bond, and hopefully more collaboration can arise from this. Something to point out is the tendency to do committed research, engaging in topics that are meaningful at different levels. I guess that to me an important aspect learned from this is that tensions are part of the process in trying to collaborate but it’s worth it when plurality is valued.

The retreat ended, we were already at the train station when a text informed a group of us that a laptop was left at the establishment. I was lucky enough to not go by myself to pick it up.  I was lucky enough to not be in the train back to Den Haag when that message came. I guess the relaxed friendly environment had a distracting effect on me. Apart from that very last detail, it was indeed a good experience having the opportunity to spend some time with other members of CIRI away from the formal academic setting. Since we all had an image of the future of CIRI (even if varied), hopefully this retreat was just one of the many more to come!


International Institute of Social Studies

CIRI aims to scale up and identify synergies between existing research at ISS on civic agency and change agents, as drivers of societal change and development. This blog is a forum on which to share and discuss themes and issues which fall within the broad framework of the programme.

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