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Research Proposal on Purposeful Communication Between Gen Z and their Immediate Adult Circle.

Introduction: Sri Lankan culture and traditions are an amalgamate of Portuguese, Dutch, British, and certain pre-colonisation ideologies that have survived the 74-year independence (Anandakugan, 2020), and these archaic ideals have been enforced by generation to generation. This project will focus on the relationship between Gen Z and the circle of adults surrounding them who influence their growth under the basis that it takes a village to raise a child.

WHAT: How can I equip Gen Z* to have an empathetic dialogue between them and their immediate adult circle in urban Sri Lanka?

The current research areas I’m looking at are purposeful communication between Gen Z and their immediate adult circle, the communal responsibilities of raising a person, and to what extend are culture and traditions of Sri Lanka are positioned in the mindsets of this circle.

*For the purpose of this project, I will be focusing on late Gen Z (1997 – 2006), Gen Y (1996 – 1981) who fall under older siblings and teachers, and Gen X (1965 – 1980) who fall under teachers and parents.

WHY: This project will generate mutual respect, uncritical perspective, and empathy within Gen Z and older generations, address problems Gen Z face that are very ‘real’ to them as they don’t have the added advantage of hindsight, and the younger generations having less hurdles to jump through to be who they strive to be. In a global scale, there will be the utilisation of shared knowledge (history and culture vs technology and innovation), the ability to preserve functional Sri Lankan culture and traditions and adapt to a global culture, less depression among Gen Z, and being able to set a new precedent (tradition) for future generations.

HOW: The proposed final outcome is to be a platform for better dialogue focusing on deeper understanding of thoughts and actions of both sides in a controlled environment. As this is an emotion driven project, the Human Centred Design process of IDEO will be implemented. Currently researching on theories such as adapting Social Presence theory from VR to a live setting, Theory of Mind to embed empathy, and Veneer Theory as challenged in Human Kind: a hopeful history by Rutger Bregnam (2020).

Interventions looked at currently are a mediated conversation inspired by 36 Questions to Fall in Love, a study by Arthur Aran (Jones, 2015) to establish substantiality, introducing of ‘good news’ to battle the fear and anxiety that drive adults to be stricter in their ideals, and introducing a method of tackling ‘a big bad‘ as Bregnam (2020) points out, humanity tends to come together when disaster struck as opposed to bringing out their worst. This will work to dispute Veneer Theory.

The proposed timeline for the next few months is May to July: to complete initial research, and scale up interventions from small to large where it’s derived from secondary research and new information obtained from interventions. During August and September, the interventions will be more focused and expect conclusions to derive.

WHAT IF : The potential of this project lies within the personalised human connection it proposes as well as it leading to giving Gen Z the ability to design their own future by being heard. This would lead to user-friendly communication process between generations. However, the stubborn mind-set of older generations might consider this conversation as challenging their authority.

Current Reading List:

Human Kind - A hopeful history by Rutger Bregnam

Loveworks by Brian Sheehan

Empathy Instinct - Peter Bazalgette

The Politics of Trauma - Staci K. Haines

Ways of Seeing - John Berger

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the creative potential within us all – Tom Kelley and David Kelley

Current Expert List:

Leilani De Silva – Psychologist

Sumithra Rahubadda – Sri Lankan award winning novelist.

Linda Speldewinde – Founder of Academy of Design, Sri Lanka

Reference list:

Anandakugan, N. (2020). The Sri Lankan Civil War and Its History, Revisited in 2020. [online] Harvard International Review. Available at:

Jones, D. (2015). The 36 Questions That Lead to Love (Published 2015). The New York Times. [online] 9 Jan. Available at:

Rutger Bregman, Manton, E. and Moore, E. (2020). Humankind : a hopeful history. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Sherman, T.C., Gould, W. and Ansari, S.F.D. (2014). From subjects to citizens : society and the everyday state in India and Pakistan, 1947-1970. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Anandakugan, N. (2020). The Sri Lankan Civil War and Its History, Revisited in 2020. [online] Harvard International Review. Available at: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2022].

Bazalgette, P. (2017). The empathy instinct : how to create a more civil society. London: John Murray.

Berger, J. (2008). Ways of Seeing. London: British Broadcasting Corporation, p.9.

Das Miriyagalla (2015). Sri Lankan heritage with a global perspective. Colombo: Senior Old Anandians.

Design Kit: The Human-Centered Design Toolkit. (2015). Canada:

Jones, D. (2015). The 36 Questions That Lead to Love (Published 2015). The New York Times. [online] 9 Jan. Available at: [Accessed 22 Apr. 2022].

Karunanayake, P. (2021). Ruptures in Sri Lanka’s education : genesis, present status and reflections. Nugegoda: Sarasavi Publishers.

Kelley, T. and Kelley, D. (2015). Creative Confidence: Unleashing the creative potential within us all. London: W. Collins.

Nishekala, L., Gunasekara, W., Wewegama, K. and Jayasundara, M. (2022). Impact of Teachers. 12 Apr.

Rutger Bregman, Manton, E. and Moore, E. (2020). Humankind : a hopeful history. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Sheehan, B. (2015). Loveworks : How the World’s Top Marketers Make Emotional Connections to Win in the Marketplace. New York: Powerhouse Books, U.S.

TEDx Talks (2020). How to navigate our uncertain future | April Rinne | TEDxFrankfurt. YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2022]. (2012). Neil Gaiman: Keynote Address 2012 | University of the Arts. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Feb. 2022].

Wickramasinghe, M. (1981). Buddhism and culture. Dehiwala Tisara Prakasakayo.

Wickramasinghe, M. (2014). Aspects of Sinhalese culture. Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka: Sarasa.

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