Interacting with the "real" world

If there is anything I like the most about my work as a PhD Candidate (except for getting payed to problematize) it is the various opportunities I get to engage in discussions and interactions with people from the "real" worlds. My lecturing activities, in which I get to talk to audiences as diverse as safety representatives of explosive industries to junior medical doctors, are huge learning opportunities for me (hopefully also for them).

It is easy to call the university domain a protected workshop for insiders who develop their own language, models, theories, and "families". Again, having the opportunity to incorporate problematization in my work description is great (and I often joke about how the reality is getting more and more frightening every day): but it would be awful without the interaction with all people doing "real" work. Also, that the quality of the research conducted correlates with the interaction with the naturalistic worlds (in my case the high-risk domains) pretty much goes without saying. It is really easy to get cocky about being able to explain words like epistemology, complexity or ethnography. But then engaging in discussions and activities together with people who deals with everyday problems of working in safety-critical industries makes you nothing but humble and impressed. When I feel that I can help in providing them with a language to discuss and manage the problems that they face, that is when I get proud.

The field of Action Research has a lot to offer in emphasizing the importance of researchers almost working as "insiders" in the system that they study. I am currently engaged in a project that I hope will evolve into the format of an action research-project. It is in the healthcare industry that I have been involved in developing an intervention - a concept for inter professional team training - that we now have implemented as a system at three wards at a Swedish hospital (more about the project in this blog post, and in this one). The concept has been developed in close cooperation with the hospital and now the course is given to the entire staff (at least those working close to the patient) by the hospital's own facilitators. It is really interesting to see where this intervention will take us!

I am really looking forward to this spring. I have been given the responsibility to run a Master Program in Human Factors and Systems Safety. This spring a small group of people from different parts of the world (Canada, USA, Scandinavia, Australia) will start the course. The program is mainly distance-based, however we will have the opportunity of meeting the students three times during the first year. The really cool thing with this program is that it involves students with experience from all kinds of different high-risk domains. In the class that we are now taking in we have students from healthcare, aviation, the nuclear industry and mining. I am so looking forward to be a part of the interaction and learning activities in this group!


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