CPR space

A Connecting-Probing-Reflecting (CPR) space is a workshop or learning activity that fosters carryover of outcomes into participants’ work and lives in the following manner. The CPR space has a topic that the participants explore in relation to their individual interests, aspirations, and situations. The exploration introduces and makes use of tools and processes, not only for the exploration, but also to develop connections among participants – connections that help participants open up, probe into, and flesh out their contributions to the topic.

While pursuing the tangible goals of learning and practicing the tools and processes, developing connections, and making contributions, the experiential goal is that doing so is sufficiently positive that the participants continue afterwards in practicing the tools and processes, sustaining and deepening the connections, putting into practice the contributions to the topic of the CPR space, and drawing support for the latter from the tools, processes, and connections.


The salience of the issue of carryover derives from the CPR space being a space away from immediate demands of scholarly or activist life, a space where participants can support each other’s explorations without having to arrive at a joint contribution to the topic or obliging themselves to collaborate in extending their product after the end of the workshop or learning space. (The CPR space is a form of collaboration—and cultivation of oneself and other participants as collaborators—but not in relation to a shared task or project.)  In terms of refractive practice, CPR spaces provide refraction to the practice that a participant brings to the workshop.


Forms of CPR space include Project-Based Learning, online Collaborative Explorations, and multi-day 4Rs Workshops.

One relevant alternative to the CPR space is to bring into a group of people who work together tools and processes that they learn or practice as they generate and implement shared plans for action in the workplace or project. Indeed, there are facilitators who warn that running workshops to teach or introduce tools and processes for group work without having a task grounded in shared work is unlikely to be to bear fruit, to result in carryover to participants’ work and lives. Is lack of carryover also to be expected for the connections made and for the contributions to the topic – the insight, plans, projects that the participant produces— in the CPR space? Perhaps. Yet what makes a CPR space attractive to participants is that they re-engage with themselves as avid learners, experience collaboration that does not submerge their individual projects, and get a reminder that it is possible not to continue along previous lines.

Another relevant alternative to the CPR space is the retreat, or series of retreats, in which participants’ time together and solitary time is directed at each person clarifying their direction or vocation (e.g., in Circles of Trust following Parker Palmer). The idea is that once a person has a clear vocation, they should be able to transform their work and life and to sustain that transformation.  CPR spaces differ in: a) having a topic that draws together participants so they learn from and provide support on diverse aspects of their projects, not only the deep alignment of inner and outer worlds; and b) the tools and processes used are designed to be readily learned by participants so they can translate them into their own settings to support the inquiries of others—convening or hosting a CPR space is not restricted to certified leaders.

(A possible new entry in a revised edition of Taking Yourself Seriously, http://bit.ly/NNN2012)


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 bit.ly/pjtaylor). He is especially interested in conversations with others who are, in diverse ways, "troubled by heterogeneity" (bit.ly/tbhblog)

3 Responses to CPR space

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