6th Biennial Design Science Symposium

Complexity, Uncertainty, and the Need for Better Evidence

The Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab at RISD, Fleet Library at RISD, and Synergetics Collaborative hosted the 6th Biennial Design Science Symposium: Inclusive Narratives from Nature, an event that explored multiple approaches to sustainable/nature-inspired making, community development, and other work that facilities a holistic relationship with nature and natural systems. 6th Biennial Design Science Symposium


The CfC was invited to present a lecture connected with one of the 5 themes: Ways of Knowing—Challenging Predominant Understandings of Epistemologies.

Complexity, Uncertainty, and the Need for Better Evidence

Lecture by Justin W. Cook


It can be hard for artists, designers and scientists to work together. Experts in their own domains, they often discover that the same words mean very different things in new contexts. Yet, sometimes this discovery fails to be recognized at all, resulting in circular arguments, confusion, and missed opportunities for shared discovery.

With that in mind, this talk will present our experience and current lines of inquiry about working with evidence. What counts as evidence? What kind of evidence challenges evidence? We’ll discuss the work of translation that allows people to talk across traditions, and some practices of conversation and exchange that have worked for us and our colleagues. We’ll share the questions we still have and the challenges we’re trying to address as we launch the Center for Complexity at RISD.

At its core, this form of creative practice examines ‘knowledge in an operational sense: the how of knowing and deciding’. Be it the painter, furniture maker, sculptor, landscape architect, or industrial designer, creative practice offers ways of knowing that can make new realities possible.

Watch the lecture below

Watch the panel discussion