Development horizons of the “Licodu Community”
After twelve years the COIS – Licodu project has reached a development and a size such that it requires a reflection about its future perspectives.
Over the years the activity of this web portal has been focusing on the area of Eastern Europe, while maintaining its potential for expansion to those provided for in the general plan, and this is due to the lack of financial resources.
Today Licodu has reached a dimension (1800 loaded acts of legislation that are incrementing at a rate of 20 every 15 days) such that, by the end of the year, it shall exceed 2200 pieces of legislation.
Meanwhile the Licodu’s newsletter recipients are more than 500 and the website is regularly consulted by scholars from countries ranging from Canada to the United States to Europe and in some cases from the Arab world and China.
However, it is time to rethink Licodu and to carry out a renovation because as presently conceived the website reflects a passive model of learning. Making the portal interactive is likely to benefit both its reach and its quality, and it could also give rise to a research community around issues of which it is concerned in order to promote projects and initiatives.
We conceive a platform that interacts with users in a controlled manner, namely by a prior registration, a platform for all those who want to give a contribution.
Following this procedure users may work on individual documents and load their tips, translations or short bibliographies on individual issues, being able to integrate the activities of the operational staff. They may suggest a line of research and provide stimulation, track priorities in the acquisition of more and more documentation, propose detailed studies on specific topics (e.g. Wikipedia type).
What do we give in return?
Visibility, adding a drop down list containing the names of “independent contractors” who are part of the staff, with the indication of the academic title and degree, or the last degree accomplished, specialization etc., the reason why they decided to load or modify a given document loaded (Yahoo type answer that does indicate the sources and which competences and skills you have to be able to intervene on a given subject), a short bibliography and a list of publications concerning the purpose of the website or general bibliography on a specific topic, under their own their responsibility. All comments, curriculum etc. would be published subject to assessment by the website administrator.
Once the project is defined you can insert a page that explains the reasons for the choice of making Licodu accessible to “everyone” as a “new way” of creating research and innovation leveraging a cultural solidarity and the need to create research community to develop specific project guidelines.
A well-defined project ensures that each user has an interest in disseminating the website in the academic and research environments; by taking advantage of this dynamic we can get to disseminate and multiply the effects of research through “independent contractors”.
The key word then is collaboration, where everyone can feel part of a whole in exchange for visibility. The goal is to be able to create free research collaborations that at the same time can gratify those who want to interact with the platform.
The “Community of enquiry”.
The Community is the practice of group thinking that enables the quest for and construction of a community of enquiry and revolves around one or more goals.
For this to happen it is necessary that in a first step there be the ability to overview all available information, in order to allow a comparative reading.
The first temporary result is the elaboration of a few questions, that is, the construction of a discussion plan for thinking together with others, because knowledge is the product of an investigation, the more free from bias as possible, founded firstly on a given query.
The second step of this research method is the collection of suggestions from the text in form of questions. Participants in this experience will go through sharing thoughts, with a view to shedding new light on concepts or problems often characterized by superficial and partial analysis and/or disconnected from the territorial and cultural contexts they originate from. The research cooperation within the group takes shape in compliance with rules that seek to avoid an irremediable conflict between different statements.
The goal is to acquire that portion of another participant’s observation which can enrich and develop one own’s ideas as well as those of the other members of the group, so as to include in the resulting outcome the various suggestions and recommendations that emerge in the debate.
The administrator and the other staff who run the website are tasked with recording through a chat the conversation that develops between the partners so that the group becomes an authentic protagonist in building the discussion plan by identifying conceptual keywords and networks.
In this way it creates a habit to make room for others’ opinions.
The operational rules of the Community.
The operating rules are useful to establish proper relations among community members. Those members are specialists from different disciplines and schools. They will bring their contribution ensuring at the same time that other members’ opinions are valued, not undermined;
when an investigation yields divergent results it will be necessary to ask which elements might be reconsidered to include in the survey all relevant factors and elements.
It is recommended that investigations be conducted by following some common steps:
- Launch and presentation of key topics from the staff, as a result of collective discussion among the staff and the community;
- formulation by participants of research questions;
- identification of the connections between the different issues (implications, subordination, contradictions, oppositions, etc.);
- identification of words and key concepts, construction of subject areas and fundamental thesis;
- definition of topics or questions;
- investigation into their connections and logical relations; reflection and discussion through the comparative law methods;
- formulation of final questions or of questions otherwise regarded as the most important;
- Publication of one or more essays aimed at collecting the various search results, so that the constant dialogue may prompt the scientific community to further reflection and analysis (by using the “Collana di ricerche di diritto comparator” which is already operational and potentially an electronic journal to be posted online).
A research community that shares those values will tolerate disagreements and differences, since they are inserted in a context of strong cooperation and respect for others.
Its rules and structure create the condition so that research can develop towards original, innovative and common directions, which lead towards highly productive effects of new working hypotheses and acquisitions of outcomes of a collective reflection that allows for better identification of good practices.
A Research Community structured in this way is in fact a network of individual and collective relationships on which it is certainly easier to build research projects both internationally and bilaterally, allowing, borrowing the words of Matthew Lipman, “the flourishing of collective thinking on three axes (the three ‘Cs’): critical thinking, creative thinking, caring thinking”, connecting in a productive and harmonious manner these three dimensions, often separated from one another.
To put into practice such a design, the community must self-organize itself in an informal and independent association open to the continuous exchange of ideas and contributions of scholars from different scientific disciplines and heterogeneous educational paths.
The most suitable instrument could be the creation of a website (of which Licodu constitutes the basis) equipped with an archive in which to collect and store useful material gradually produced and in which you can insert new articles, essays, summaries and reports of books that are considered significant for the agreed purposes. The purposes will inevitably be discussed, re-defined, enriched, as it should occur in the course of an open and honest contest of ideas.
The staff, or coordination group, composed by willing people have to pull the strings of community; not a large group made up of both experienced scholars and young researchers, in order to take advantage of attitudes and ways of doing things somehow different and in the meantime happily complementary.
Prof. Giovanni Cimbalo Prof. Federica Botti
Chairperson of COIS Scientific Director of COIS
Full Professor of Ecclesiastical Law Researcher TD
Alma Mater Studiorum Alma Mater Studiorum
University of Bologna University of Bologna
School of Law School of Law