University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
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The University Symposium for 2014-16 will focus on the topic Strategy. We are interested in provoking thoughtful conversations about all aspects of the concept of strategy, from strategic thinking through strategies that organisms employ to survive.

In the past 30 years, there has been a significant uptick in the use of “strategy” in published books:
strategy chart

We seem to be surrounded by strategies. We are exhorted to think strategically in many realms. We talk about winning strategies. We consider biological survival mechanisms as strategies. Games of all kinds involve strategic thinking both in their devising and in their playing. Our own university (and its constituent components) engages in repeated rounds of strategic planning.

In the University Symposium on Strategy, we seek to explore how the idea of strategy operates in a variety of disciplines. We are interested both in its function as a useful concept and in the effects its pervasive use may have on how we think and act. Questions to explore may include:

  • What do we gain by strategic thinking? What do we lose?
  • What does it mean to think strategically? How does strategic planning differ from planning?
  • Strategy is often associated with war and policy. What are the implications of using strategy as a metaphor? Of connecting strategy and priorities?
  • How do we theorize and enact opposition to strategy, whether we mean counter-strategies or resistance to strategy itself as a social or institutional practice?
  • What are the temporal consequences of strategic planning? What are the costs?
  • Does strategy require volition? What does it mean to ascribe strategy to non-sentient beings?
  • Does strategy have a function in artistic creation?
  • Can a strategic approach help us solve multimodal problems?
  • Does strategy change with scale, from the level of individual to small group to large institution?