Rethinking The Academy:

The Cycles Project

The Cycles Project is an attempt to rethink scholarship and the ways we build knowledge in the academy. A cycle begins with a problem, which is addressed using a listserv or other technology, by a group of thinkers who grapple with the issues involved and who attempt to come up with a series of solutions. The end result for publication is the dialogue itself (Works and Days 21-22).

Its creators, James Sosnoski and David Downing, have described it in the following way:

The Cycles project is the name we have given to a series of experiments in online collaborative teaching and research . . . . We have called the project "Cycles" because it involves the cycle of correspondence, exchange, and collaboration that constitutes research. Through these experiments we have developed protocols for working in electronic environments which foster the interpersonal dimension of the use of technology . . . . Influenced by post-disciplinary thinkers in composition and feminist theory, we asked: "Can a "person-oriented" mode of research be further developed online? Can networked telecommunication re-personalize rather than de-personalize our working conditions? Can cyberspace foster the affective, analogical, intuitive, and interpersonal dimensions of research and teaching that have been disciplinized out of traditional research modes in print environments? (19)

Thus, the traditional pattern of research, which - at its best - springs out of questions that arise in the classroom, doing research collaboratively, as a cycle, means that a group of scholars, or a group of students, begin asking questions together and present their research findings not a traditional print text in which answers are given out, but as a dialogical process, a "process of inquiry" (20).

Doing research as a cycle involves an acceptance of the post-modern awareness that knowledge itself is constantly in flux; representing it in dialogue form makes the dialogic nature of research and knowledge-making (what Burke called the "parlor conversation") apparent.

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Last Modified: August 2, 1996

Copyright 1996 by Keith Dorwick