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Explore D&D Future in New Cosmopolis2045 Website

Imagine a world in which communication practices are centered in social interactions and the way society operates, where the whole community lives dialogue and deliberation practices every day?

This is the vision for the exciting new website that just officially launched – Cosmopolis2045, which offers a vision of a future communication-centric society in the year 2045. This project has been an on-going, multi-year collaborative effort between scholars, practitioners, and community members; you may remember we announced this endeavor several years back on the blog and it’s wonderful to see this come to fruition. Thanks to NCDD member Kim Pearce for sharing this update with us! We encourage you to read more in the post below and especially to explore the future vision of the Cosmopolis2045 website here.


Cosmopolis2045: Imagining a better social world in which communicating matters

What if a whole community treated relationships with other people as if they really mattered? What if a whole community took dialogue and deliberation seriously? And what if that community tried with all their hearts to bring about a better social world in all the myriad of ways we engage in communication with others in our world?

These were the questions asked by a group of scholars and practitioners sponsored by the CMM Institute, a NCDD member organization. The Cosmopolis2045 website is their answer, visit https://cosmopolis2045.com/

The Cosmopolis2045 website depicts an imagined community set in the future (circa 2045) in which residents and leaders of the community have adopted a communication-centric view of how their own and other social worlds function. This website offers an intriguing look at a possible near future in which dialogue and deliberation are an integral part of everyday community events and are at the heart of city functioning. The website is also an information-rich resource for teaching classes on communication, especially cosmopolitan communication and for exploring the implications of a communication-centric view for a range of educational, legal, governance, and associated community practices.

Behind the scenes

How might we, as scholars, practitioners, citizens and all those concerned with the quality of our social life, respond to such an invitation?

What might it take to act wisely, if only for the moment, in our response?

What resources, stories and other experiences do we have to draw on to respond?

What can we share with others that might enhance all our capacities to act wisely in the making of better social worlds?

Those are the questions we asked ourselves as we set about imagining a community where a new social fabric could emerge out of treating communicating seriously.

In this section, we give you behind-the-scenes information which addresses the above questions. Our starting vision and guiding theory are described in Inspiration for the Cosmopolis2045 project. Here we also outline the futurist research we drew upon; elaborate at greater length on our “non-utopian” attempts at being visionaries; and describe what we mean by cosmopolitan communication.

The Cosmopolis2045 project is a collaborative thought experiment that has involved an international group of scholars and sponsors. These people and organisations are described in Collaborators and sponsors.

If any particular topic or underlying theory attracts your attention please go to Want to know more? Here we offer introductory background material on the Coordinated Management of Meaning, our guiding theory. We also include references and websites to a range of supporting material from futurist research to pedagogy, to sustainable food practices and procedural justice, and more. You can also find links to like-minded websites, scholars and practitioners. All these references and links show the breadth and depth of social change going on now and how much our vision for the near future is possible and not far removed from reality.

Inspiration for Cosmopolis2045

The Cosmopolis2045 project has been a collaborative thought experiment involving many people and taking place over a number of years. It is, in fact, still on-going.

The website depicting our vision of Cosmopolis is one, but not all, manifestation of our response to the challenge of how do you envision better social worlds, knowing that there is no “best” goal outside of the very process of communicating itself.

Here we offer some of the behind-the-scenes material that, hopefully, explains how we responded to the challenge we set ourselves. We lay this out under three themes:

What we are trying to achieve

 Our goal with this website is to create and maintain a virtual depiction of a community set in the future (circa 2045) in which residents and leaders of the community have adopted a communication-centric view of how their own and other social worlds function. It is our belief, and one that can be substantiated, that this communication-centric view is what we need for the evolution of better social worlds.

However, we have found, as scholars, practitioners and involved citizens, that this communication-centric view is not one commonly shared. Mainstream communication theories, both formal and implicit, narrowly focus on the content and quality of messages, along with an implicit assumption that successful communication is the receipt of an unsullied message or the creation of shared understanding.

Our primary challenge, then, in creating the imaginary world of Cosmopolis2045, has been to depict ways of living in communicating that many have not imagined and others only in part. On the other hand, we also know from our collective experiences that there are many social change initiatives happening around the world that point the ways to meet this challenge.

In our imagination we have drawn together many of the social change initiatives and woven them within a communication perspective“loom”. And in doing this, we have created new imaginings of what can happen if we treat communicating seriously.

The stories, the new social institutions and the dialogic practices of the citizens and leaders in our imagined community have been developed to point to new ways and new possibilities for personal and social evolution. Given the local and global challenges we all face in the 21stcentury, we hope our new imaginings offer some hope and some new directions to explore.

Our guiding theory

The Theory of the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) is the primary impetus behind the Cosmopolis 2045 Project. Barnett Pearce and Vernon Cronen at the University of Massachusetts developed CMM theory in the late 1970s. The seminal expressions of the theory can be found in Pearce and Cronen’s Communication, Action and Meaning: The Creation of Social Realities (Praeger, 1980), Pearce’s Communication and the Human Condition (Southern Illinois University Press, 1989), Pearce and Littlejohn’s Moral Conflict: When Social Worlds Collide (Sage, 1997), and Pearce’s Making Social Worlds: A Communication Perspective (Blackwell, 2009).

A more comprehensive account and further references on CMM can be found in Want to know more?

CMM is premised on the belief that the social worlds we inhabit are constructed in the many diverse forms of everyday communication we engage in. Put simply, we live in communication. CMM, which can perhaps best be described as a “practical theory,” provides heuristic tools for understanding the ways in which we do this living-in-communication. The same tools and broader communication perspective can also guide mindful practice in communicating.

We believe that the communication perspective offered by CMM has greater potential to meet the challenges of the contemporary global environment than narrower, instrumental beliefs in which the process of communication is taken to be immaterial or insignificant. The latter views of communication are, in particular, unable to address the many challenges arising from distinct, if not colliding, cultural values and patterns of behavior that abound in our contemporary world. From our CMM perspective, these cultural challenges need to be coordinated and navigated rather than subjected to efforts at persuasion or clarity of meaning (i.e., as reflected in the dominant Western paradigm for theorizing about communication).

CMM proposes that creating and sustaining a cosmopolitan form of cultural communication is a better model for communicating with diverse others than extant models such as monocultural, ethnocentric, or modernistic forms of communication (see Want to know more?). The Cosmopolis 2045 website is designed to render one expression of what cosmopolitan cultural patterns might look like in the everyday life of a community.

By definition, cosmopolitan cultural patterns bring about an environment in which humans thrive, both in terms of personal and social evolution. This culture is characterized by one in which the members:

  • hold a communication-centric view of social worlds, recognizing that their social worlds (i.e., relationships, selves, groups, episodes, and culture itself) are “made” and “remade” in everyday communication patterns
  • value their own cultural traditions, beliefs and values yet recognize that, except for the accident of birth, they would likely hold some other set of beliefs and values (thus are profoundly open to the value of other traditions)
  • treat “others” (strangers, non-members of their community) with engaged curiosity, seeing them simultaneously as “different from us” (in that may they have different values or social practices), and yet “like us” (in that both of our beliefs and practices are socially made). In this way, each of our “ways of being” are treated as partial expressions of what it means to be human
  • understand that they live in multiple social worlds and are able to draw resources from several social worlds in constructing new ones
  • are able to make conscious choices about what forms of life they wish to enact in given situations
  • work collectively as citizens to make their social worlds better places to live—they see designing their public life together as an indication of “conscious evolution”
  • believe that patterns of life that are not productive or helpful can be altered through conscious collective effort.
  • have developed skills for “making better social worlds,” including: framing and reframing; identifying and choosing wisely how to act into (as well as out of) contexts; sensing the flow and rhythms of “logical forces” (deontic logic of should/ought); identifying/creating “bifurcation points” and acting wisely into them.

Projecting futures and making better social worlds

Cosmopolis 2045 is a collaborative thought-experiment, a partnership in imagining a plausible version of a future social world(s), particularly if we act wisely in dealing with the trends and counter-trends already happening around us.

“Futurists” have been projecting worlds of tomorrow for ages. In developing Cosmopolis, we consulted many sources on future trends in technology, medicine, work and economics, politics, education, and many other aspects of social life. In our Research the Future topic in Want to know more? we share some of that research, identify books you can read, or connect you to websites that summarize future trends.

In using this research, we wanted to make sure that how we depict a fictional future in 2045 is plausible, according to the best research and projections. Among other things, that research suggested that dialogic communication—that found in cosmopolitan cultures—could be an important driver of change; where the change is to what one future scenario group called a “transformed world”. For a fascinating review of this research, see Barnett Pearce’s essay “Reflections on the role of dialogic communication in transforming the world”.

In this “transformed world” there is a vision of shared power in which grassroots organisations co-operate effectively and in which sustainable development, socially, economically and environmentally, is a collective goal.  And while we have drawn on the ideas projected for such a transformed world we have also consciously tried to avoid making Cosmopolis an unrealistic or impossibly utopian vision.

You can find the original version of this information on the Cosmopolis2045 site at www.cosmopolis2045.com/.

Keiva Hummel
Keiva Hummel serves as NCDD’s Communications Coordinator. She graduated cum laude from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Communication Studies, Minor in Global Peace, Human Rights and Justice Studies, and a Certificate in Conflict Resolution Studies.

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