Collaborative for Exploration of Scientific and Political Change: PBL to explore its deeper rationale

Continuing a series of posts on the development of the Collaborative for Exploration of Scientific and Political Change within the framework of Ben Schwendener’s Seminar on Creativity.


12 June ’11
Decided to do a test run of the Collaborative around a PBL case on helping me tease out the deeper rationale (vertical-unity) of the Collaborative.  Invited 17 people to participate in an initial exploration [which eventually resulted in about 10 signing up to start on 6/23)]

  • In this initial PBL for CESPOC, participants are asked to join with Peter Taylor to articulate this deeper rationale, one that captures how participation in CESPOC could help a person identify and affirm their aspirations and thus be moved to continue participating. Contributions to this PBL might take the form of examples that illustrate what CESPOC could be; design principles and processes for developing the Collaborative; a teasing out and clarification of Peter Taylor’s motivation for wanting to initiate this; theory and results about how self-organizing groups develop, persist, and dissipate; a schema of the spaces of interaction implied by such a Collaborative; or whatever else engages the interest of the participants in this initial PBL. Like all PBLs, some surprising directions of inquiry and reframings of the problem may emerge.
  • Note: This PBL operates on three levels: 1) Making contributions to the topic itself (i.e., the deeper rationale for a Collaborative); 2) An experience to reflect on so as to gain more insight about “how participation in CESPOC could help a person identify and affirm their aspirations and thus be moved to continue participating”; and 3) An experiment in convening a group for 3 weeks online (which can also be evaluated so as to gain insight about “how participation…”).

Important to keep a log of what I’ve been doing.

Other goals:

  • Move away from developing the Collaborative on my own. Provide an opening for others to shape the entity even as I remain with a special role.
  • Possibly the seed for a movement that is more rewarding than editing a journal and that extends the New England Workshop on Science and Social Change.
  • Make use of having a 50% time assistant for Science in a Changing World graduate track.

About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor teaches and directs programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He studies the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context as well as innovation in teaching, group process, and interdisciplinary collaboration (see He is especially interested in conversations with others who are, in diverse ways, "troubled by heterogeneity" (

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