Your Field Needs a MINDfields Project, and You Need to do It


Christian Davenport conceived the MINDfields project a number of years ago: a video interview project to document and archive the lived experience of senior scholars in his field.  As explained on the project’s homepage, The MINDfields project:

conducts interviews with senior conflict, violence and peace scholars.  The interviewees reflect on the trajectory of their research agendas during the arc of their careers, thus providing a unique perspective on conflict and peace research unavailable elsewhere.  

It was inspired

in equal parts by Charles Tilly’s concern that new generations of researchers enter the profession with limited appreciation and understanding of the intellectual past of conflict scholarship, the scholarly community’s response to Tilly’s passing in 2008, and the Iconoclasts series on Sundance Channel.

I am calling on tenured faculty in other fields to launch similar efforts for their communities.  We have structured MINDfields as a DIY project where we use our phones or a cheap video camera, and then post the result to YouTube.  Production quality thus leaves much to be desired, and we’ve had audio issues, blah, blah, blah.  You can adopt DIY, or commit some sort of resources and produce a higher quality output.  It’s up to you.

We have also adopted a structured interview approach where

We Just Turn on the Camera, ask Six questions and Life Happens (more or less)

* What research of yours are you most proud of?

* What led you to undertake the research project for which you are most widely known?

* Looking back at the evolution of the field over the course of your career, what do you think should have received more attention?

* Are there any approaches, theories, topics, etc. that you believe should have received less attention from the community?

* If you had done an interview like this when you were in mid-career, who would you have liked to interview?

* What do you think are the most exciting or promising areas in current research? Future research?

You can adapt/adopt that or create your own (un)structured interview process.  It’s up to you.

I am sure there are other efforts out there, but the only similar project I know of is the Parents of the Field project of  George Mason’s School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution.

So this is a call to get off yo butt, coordinate with a colleague or two, and build some community.  Do it!


About Will H. Moore

I am a political science professor who also contributes to Political Violence @ a Glance and sometimes to Mobilizing Ideas . Twitter: @WilHMoo
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