Guided tour of my service and institutional development work II

I. Building a Basis for Interdisciplinary Science, Health, and Environmental Education and Research

(continuing a guided tour of my work presented in the spirit that service and institutional development can also be practically and theoretically coherent)

A. Beyond UMass Boston

1. For discussion of my service and institutional development beyond UMass Boston, refer first to a recent wikipage prepared to support a nomination for a service award for the International Society for History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB). In brief, ISHPSSB was the most significant venue for my work outside my formal appointments in the 1980s and 90s. Although I continue to organize sessions at the Society’s biennial meetings, my ISHPSSB-style efforts have shifted more to the smaller and more focused New England Workshop on Science and Social Change (NewSSC), with spin-off workshops this spring in Australia and Portugal.

2. The NewSSC workshops represent an integration of my research—in science and interpretation of science in its social context—with teaching and service—in the form of critical reflection on concepts and practice by researchers and students (consistent with the framework presented in my 2005 book, Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement). The opportunity and challenge of teaching—or fostering the reflective practice of—the diverse adults who come through the Critical and Creative Thinking Graduate Program gave me sufficient experience and confidence to push further in putting that framework into practice with diverse international researchers through NewSSC. The innovative, interaction-intensive NewSSC workshops were designed to facilitate discussion, teaching innovation, and longer-term collaboration among faculty and graduate students who teach and write about interactions between scientific developments and social change. The ongoing evolution of the workshops has been stimulated not only by written and spoken evaluations (linked to the webpages for each workshop), but also by an extended debriefing immediately following each workshop and advisory group discussions, such as one in 2008 that addressed the question of what moves people develop themselves as collaborators. Our conjecture was that this development happens when participants see an experience or training as transformative. After reviewing the evaluations we identified four “R’s”—respect, risk, revelation, and re-engagement—as conditions that make interactions among participants transformative (see Taylor et al. 2010 for elaboration and supporting quotations from the evaluations).
The integration of critical thinking about science and reflective practice is also evident in the daily blog I began at the end of the summer last year and its recent spin-off.

3. Roles in interdisciplinary educational, professional, and program development (outside UMass Boston, since 1998) — see list and associated links at


About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012,

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