TIPC have published a report discussing the preliminary findings of a research project investigating the Second Order Learning resulting from Covid-19.
The report, conducted by Paulina Terrazas and Alejandra Boni, is part of TIPC’s work in Second Order Learning in Sustainability Transitions, seeking to understand the role of learning in the arena of transitions and social change, as a “steering mechanism” or as a “transformative outcome”: gathering new knowledge as well as questioning assumptions within the experiment. This research explores, within the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC), community, how has COVID-19 contributed to Second Order Learning –understood as changes in beliefs, assumptions, points of view and behaviours –that is relevant for transformation.
In order to answer this question, a diverse sample of members from the TIPC community of practice participated in sixteen interviews and a workshop to reflect on their experiences dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic from an individual, community, and organisational perspective, with particular focus on the pandemic’s implications for their work in sustainability transformations. A prevalent “landscape shock” such as this can demonstrate if Second Order Learning (SOL) happens as a result from the crisis.
One particularly novel aspect of this work is in its inclusion of its participants personal lives, recognising the impact global challenges such as the pandemic can have on the learning process and its influence on STI practitioners outside their working lives.
“It is unusual for policy and research professionals to engage, as part of their normal work day, in conversations about something that may be considered as a personal experience. This trait is explicitly studied by organisational experts (Argyris and Schon, 1996) as a key inhibitor of SOL. People tend to “suppress their own and others’ feelings” and “emphasize the intellectual and deemphasize the emotional aspects of problems”. Covid-19 has all the elements to be considered a dramatic crisis, a perfect disorienting dilemma, a challenging unexpected situation as by the literature. This shock has prompted us to share our habits of mind and points of view including perceptions, values, cognition, feelings and expectations as never before.”
Another relevant aspect that came out of the first interactions is the common understanding that people in science, technology and innovation agencies and universities are engaging in a conversation that includes previous challenges, Covid-19 and sustainability, all as part of the same conversation related to overcoming current socio-technical practices.
The full report shares findings relating to the challenges the pandemic presents for STI agencies, technological bridges and walls, the specific challenges experienced in the Global South, and SOL changes instigated by Covid-19.
The diagram below summarises the report’s findings, showing the impacts of the Covid-19 landscape shock across multiple areas. In addition to the main report, an executive report can be accessed here.
A second round of interviews will explore this subject further, as six months have passed since this research project began, with a potential longer term follow-up to put the crisis in a wider perspective.