Guided Tour of my mentoring, themes


Four considerations underlie my mentoring of students, graduates, and junior colleagues–at UMass Boston and elsewhere:

1. The program of studies for Critical & Creative Thinking (CCT), especially the final three research and engagement courses for which I have had primary responsibility, requires individually customized guidance in order to fulfill its mission of providing students from diverse fields “with knowledge, tools, experience, and support so they can become constructive, reflective agents of change in education, work, social movements, science, and creative arts.”

2. My intellectual and professional project centers around encouraging students and researchers to contrast the paths taken in science, society, education with other paths that might be taken, and to foster their acting upon the insights gained. Bringing critical analysis of science to bear on the practice and applications of science has not been well developed or supported institutionally. Given this, I have contributed actively to the development of society-at-a-small-scale, through new collaborations, programs, and other activities, new directions for existing programs, and collegial interactions across disciplines and regions. Consistently working on such institutional development as well as experimenting in teaching and group process has followed from and fed into the analyses of ecological complexity I made as a scientist as well as the interpretations I made, as a science and technology studies (STS) scholar, of equivalent, ecological-like complexity of influences shaping science.

3. To ensuring a viable CCT Program without another full-time CCT faculty member (since my 2nd year at UMB, with the exception of 2004-6), I worked to foster a wider community around CCT, not only to support students as they change their work and lives, but also to sustain myself.

4. In any endeavor, I seek to articulate coherent principles to guide my efforts and make it visible to others. In mentoring, as in my service and institutional development more generally, the qualities I value and pursue include:
• planning that takes into account the often-limited and uncertain state of resources, guides where we put our not-unlimited energies, and seeks to make the result sustainable or cumulative;
• community-building, not only for the sake of a sustainable product, but so participants/ collaborators value their involvement in the process;
• probing what has been taken for granted or left unarticulated until coherent principles emerge to guide our efforts;
• transparency and inclusiveness of consultation in formulating procedures and principles and in making evaluations available;
• documenting process, product, and evaluations to make institutional learning more likely;
• organization, including efficient use of computer technology, to support all of the above.

Illustrations of these themes are given in the next post.


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" (

One Response to Guided Tour of my mentoring, themes

  1. Pingback: Guided tour of my mentoring, illustrations | Probe—Create Change—Reflect

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