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A Definition of Synergy in Relation to my Profession

(Academic – Research in Art and Design)

Professor Martin Woolley

Main Definition

Educational synergy is the cultivated relationship between external worlds, events, knowledge, people and the learning/teaching process. Research can be a catalyst which engenders, facilitates and informs this process.

Further Thoughts

  • Research synergy is partly an exploratory process - you can set up the conditions that can encourage it but not necessarily plan it in absolute terms.
  • Research synergy is setting up two or more sets of conditions, parameters, activities, paths, systems or resources and stimulating their interaction in specified or unspecified ways, in order to create something more powerful than the sum of the parts.
  • Synergy also involves getting different people with different experience and backgrounds to interact productively. It is closely related to the more recent term of co-creation. Synergy in this context can work well when the individuals are in direct contact, it needs special methods and technologies to occur remotely.
  • Educational synergy involves tangible and intangible concerns - Are personalities compatible? Are conditions appropriate? Is the environment conducive? Is there a shared perception?
  • Synergy can require a temporary or permanent suspension of individual conditions, beliefs, methods and aims, in order to seek a necessary commonality of ambition and outlook.
  • Educational synergy has much to do with reconciling differences, being open-minded, manipulating constraints and their opposite.
  • Is there a synergy consciousness - is it what we mean when we talk about creative networking, thinking outside the box?
  • Synergy seems to imply a trade-off between the conscious knitting together of individual agendas and establishing the conditions conducive for an accelerated serendipity.
  • The education profession relies on synergies in both method and content, within and external to the educational field.

Martin Woolley - 1st March 2005

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