II. OVERVIEW of EXPERTISE, CONTRIBUTION AND LEADERSHIP

II-A. CONCERNING 2004 - 2020

Draft:

# In 1986 I was first employed by the University of Salford, as a Research Fellow in an 'industrial' project linked to the Surveying profession. Before that, I had a dozen years of experience in business and professions.

# In particular, I had become an acknowledge expert in expert systems, knowledge elicitation and partly in systems development, because of the real-life success of the systems I have produced in the chemical industry and surveying profession.

# In 1987 I was taken on as academic staff, as part of the newly-established Information Technology Institute. From then on I have been a full-time academic in the University of Salford (lecturer, senior lecturer, reader, professor).

# Two things have shaped my academic perspective and career: Asperger syndrome (with some dyslexia) and a radical-novel (but not fundamentalist) commitment to Jesus Christ. Both these have led me to continually question accepted practice and ideas, not opposing them but merely questioning assumptions made and presuppositions held: always wondering "Why?" and "Why not?" This has led me to espouse fresh ideas is most of the fields in which I have worked. From my Christian commitment, I became an environmental activist in parallel with my university work, several times standing for election as a Green Party candidate.

# The fields in which I have worked (practised, taught and researched) include: computer-aided design, computer programming, medical records, databases, expert systems, business information system, user interface, human-computer interaction, human factors more generally, multimedia, systems thinking, interdisciplinarity, philosophy, sustainability, theology (not at Salford), criticality in research, and research methods and approaches.

# I have always tended to integrate practice, teaching and research, always aware of real-life application and deep philosophical roots of (a) the technologies we generate, (b) what we teach, (c) what we research. (That is why my two main books have "Practice and Research" in their title.)

# I discovered Dooyeweerd's philosophy in the mid 1990s. Before that, I found philosophy academically fascinating but of little use; with Dooyeweerd I discovered a philosophy of immense use, especially in interdisciplinary fields like information systems, business and sustainability. His suite of aspects in particular help researchers and practitioners and teachers to separate out kinds of issues, and to ensure that no salient issues are overlooked (as too often happens). It also offers a basis for resolving conficts and bringing together approaches that appear incommensurable. His aspects, being spheres of meaningfulness and law, bring together "is" and "ought", so that 'ethics' etc. is not a bolted-on concern but is deeply embedded in all we do in practice, research and teaching. In addition to this, Dooyeweerd's philosophy offers understanding of progress and history especially of ideas, over both decades, centuries and millennia, which is helpful to gain perspective on information technology, on business and on environmental responsibility.

# In 2003 when I was given my Chair, I asked the Vice Chancellor what the university wanted me to do. He replied "Explore this Dutch philosophy (especially) as related to information systems" This is what I have done ever since to the best of my limited ability.

# In 2013, when I took partial retirement, I was kept on to write monographs (or/and papers) for the REF, as well as to help my remaining PhD students to finish. I have one to finish.

# My concern for climate and environmental responsibility offers a normative context for my teaching, research and practice, giving it direction. This has helped strategy. Dooyeweerd's aspects offer a basis for systematic consideration of these concerns, in that sustainability in its widest and deepest sense may be seen as society functioning well in all aspects together (e.g. biotic, technological, social, economic, aesthetic, juridical, ethical and faith).

# So, it was with great pleasure that I introduced Dooyeweerd's aspects to Prof. Peter Brandon in the late 1990s, in his work on urban development and sustainability and to his key researcher, Patrizia Lombardi. They 'ran' with these ideas in that field, and have established a new paradigm therein.

# Dooyeweerd's philosophy was, however, little-known and discussion of it seemed isolated to a small clique of thinkers. Recognising its potential in information systems, business and sustainability, I have focuses on applying Dooyeweerd's ideas, not just discussing them. This I have worked on at the University of Salford since the late 1990s until today.

# Indeed, I have become internationally recognised as the leading applier of Dooyeweerd's philosophy. The University of Salford has become renowned internationally as the seat of this work, in this community. This has attracted people to study under me, for example a senior manager (CTO) in Microsoft, who studied for PhD with me and developed a Dooyeweerdian understanding to trust in business, the Internet and more generally.

# I have always sought to build bridges. Between people, between fields (e.g. I worked with the geography and surveying departments), between beliefs (e.g. religions, ideologies), and between philosophies (e.g. Dooyeweerd with Habermas, Foucault, etc.). To aid this, I have developed a mechanism that enables cross-fertilisation of ideas (LACE: Listen, Affirm, Critique, Enrich). I have found Dooyeweerd's philosophy to be immensely helpful in operationalising this.

# Though Dooyeweerd's philosophy is sometimes called a "Christian" philosophy, in my experience, it is valued by Muslims, Hindus and Humanists more than by Christians.


II-B. UP TO 2004

This is most of the text of the Statement I was required to make when I applied for a post at University of Salford.

My research and teaching is based on thirty years' involvement with information systems, half of it in an academic setting and half in medical records, the chemical industry and in a short relationship with the surveying profession. During the whole of that time I have adopted the role of 'reflective practitioner' and sought to make innovative contributions to both theory and practice. These number around two dozen, outlined in the Research section (where 'innovation' is defined to be genuinely new ideas or approaches of three types), and have been wide ranging:

  1. to the technologies with which I have been involved: computer aided design, software architectures, data bases, artificial intelligence, knowledge based systems (KBS), geographic information systems, cognitive mappers, drawing software, user interfaces and virtual environments,
  2. in the realm of methodology: knowledge acquisition, knowledge analysis and the Client Centred Approach to whole system development
  3. to the realm of human and social factors: the 'Proximal User Interface' paradigm, a model of Usage, Benefits and Impact, and a means of differentiating success from failure of information systems in a multi-stakeholder context.

In this way I have gained an holistic picture of the technology and contextual usage of information systems, and believe that philosophy is the key to maintaining the integrity and coherence of the whole picture. For this reason, in the last few years years, I have been exploring and developing, and in turn contributing to

  1. the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of information systems issues.

The focus of my work in the near future will shift towards (d) while maintaining close involvement, as appropriate, with the other areas discussed above. This is because, in (d), I am exploring the application to information systems of the philosophical framework proposed by the Dutch thinker, >Herman Dooyeweerd (1955). Being based on a radically different set of presuppositions than is conventional philosophy, it is better able to account for interdisciplinarity, the integration of human with technical issues, and the integration of theory with practice, but it is also relatively unknown and requires testing and refinement by the whole intellectual community. To this end I have created The Dooyeweerd Pages, a website devoted to understanding, explaining and debating Dooyeweerdian ideas, and have started to contribute to academic debate within philosophy itself.

An area of interest from my private life is now becoming a formal research area in which I am making contributions:

  1. understanding the nature of, and achieving, environmental sustainability.

This work has enriched my research in information systems, especially areas (b) and (c), and I am developing the hypothesis that sustainability can be understood by reference to Dooyeweerd's ideas. See the Research section for details.

My leadership in these areas has been manifested in a number of ways, so that I was able to contribute significantly to the early development of one of the University's most successful 5* research areas. An early example was the unusually high level of success I achieved in applying KBS technology, notably in ELSIE, which became, at the time, the most successful KBS worldwide, and on the basis of which a company was formed and a structured methodology was developed. Over the years, as well as leading funded research projects, and supervising research students, I have written a number of works that propose new perspectives or draw attention to significant aspects not widely recognised as important and that have led to continuing invitations to lecture or write (Basden 1983, Basden, 1993, Basden, Watson and Brandon, 1995, Basden and Hibberd, 1996, Basden, Brown, Tetlow and Hibberd, 1996, Kuosa and Basden, 2000). My concept of Proximal User Interface is attracting increasing attention in the human factors community.

My Dooyeweerd Pages website is regularly described by the international Dooyeweerdian community as "impressive", "eloquent", "inspiring", etc. and is increasingly used as a resource. I am in discussion with the Dooyeweerd Center and the Herman Dooyeweerd Foundation, USA, about starting an English language academic journal and, because there is at present no major academic Introduction to Dooyeweerdian philosophy in the English language, I am in discussion about writing one. I am also planning the U.K.'s first research centre to explore Dooyeweerdian philosophy, at Salford. I was a founder member, in 1995, of the Centre for Technology and Social Systems, an international collaboration for research and teaching informed by Dooyeweerdian ideas, and am deeply involved in creating a unique International Master's Course in Philosophical Management and Systems Science. My proposal that environmental sustainability can be understood by reference to Dooyeweerd's ideas has been taken and developed by at least one other researcher (Lombardi, 1999).

My leadership has been recognised in a number of ways. My success in building knowledge based systems formed the focus of the £1M EPSRC/DTI EDESIRL project, which structured my expertise into the Client Centred methodology. In 1992 I gained a prize for best Expert Systems 92 presentation. Over the years, I have been asked for invited papers and contributions (see my Curriculum Vitae for details), and was asked for two papers which were incorporated into the U.K. Government's Technology Foresight Programme. My ideas have been sought and reported by the Media. In recognition of my broad yet deep understanding of and experience with information systems, I was seconded to the University of LuleŚ in 1997 and then to the Centre for Virtual Environments, University of Salford, from 1997-1999, in order to help in starting innovative new courses. In recognition of the value of my application of Dooyeweerdian philosohpy to information systems, I was given a visiting Chair by the University of Tampere in 1998.


This page is a section of the Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Andrew Basden.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2000. Comments, queries welcome.

Last updated: 1 November 2000. 18 February 2006 links. 15 February 2020 Part A added; added section numbers.