The “Technology, Individualism, and Human Flourishing” online discussion colloquium began with a vision. Professors of Management at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Brent Clark and Dale Eesley, saw the potential of the humanities and social sciences to enrich the study of entrepreneurship with diverse perspectives that empower entrepreneurs to address today’s complex social problems.
This colloquium brought together humanities and social sciences faculty with their peers in management, entrepreneurship, and information systems to address social problems caused or exacerbated by the rise of new technologies.
As one participant explained, the complexity of today’s social issues calls for the combined strength of multiple academic disciplines, as no single discipline has the wherewithal to sort out such complexity on its own.
This session provided an important venue for scholars to come together to discuss, debate, and reflect on these [complex] issues.-David Townsend, Associate Professor at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business
Part of the day was spent developing ideas for research projects that might come out of the meetings. This promised to translate the day’s conversations into permanent scholarly contributions to the advancement of entrepreneurship. “Lots of good ideas [were] passed around”, wrote participant Mark Packard, Assistant Professor of Management at the University of Nevada, Reno. “I think I have the formings of a good paper and, possibly, a book.”
Participants explored such topics as censorship and free speech concerns stemming from the regulation of technology, economic and social inequality driven by technology, and the replacement of human workers by machines.
The complexity of the problems at issue and the group’s disciplinary and viewpoint diversity, which might have hindered the discussions, proved no match for the group’s civility. Disagreements that emerged invariably enhanced the day’s discussions, rather than detracting from them.
Arthur Diamond, Professor of Economics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, remarked that participants were “models of civil discourse. The give and take of sessions like these”, he said, “is far more engaging and useful than standard academic conference presentations.”
Nor did the constraints of being online take away from the productivity— or the fun— of the sessions.
The online platform was easy to use. Instead of a few dominating the discussion, everyone had a chance to contribute.Ramazan Kilinc, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Islamic Studies Program, University of Nebraska at Omaha