Biology in Society: Critical Thinking and Refractive Practice
A one-day workshop at IBMC, Porto, from 10am to 6.30pm, December 18th.
This workshop operates at two levels:
1. A topic: Examination of developments in the life sciences can lead to questions about the social influences shaping scientists' work or its application. This, in turn, can lead to new questions and alternative approaches for educators, biologists, health professionals, and concerned citizens.
2. Tools, Process and Connections: Participants will also be introduced to tools and processes for individual reflection and group interaction designed not only to produce the insights about biology in its social context, but also to deepen the people-connections valuable for seeing new paths and generating new opportunities. A special emphasis will be on support for translation of tools, processes, connections, and insights back into our specific work settings.
The workshop leader, Peter Taylor
, directs the graduate programs in Critical and Creative Thinking
and Science in a Changing World
at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Allowance will be made for participants who have to miss an hour or so for, say, a meeting. For more details, see http://bit.ly/IBMC12W
Reading -- taylor08bSasC.pdf
-- to be read (at least up to end of part 1) as preparation for a morning session that will use the following format:
- Participants relate how the paper intersects with or stimulates their own thinking. (The author stays quiet, listening. After that author joins in the discussion, which continues for the time remaining. The emphasis is on participants teasing out their own thinking more than on digging into what the author thinks.)
Draft program (9 Dec)
Process themes vs. topic themes -> Process themes
1 & 2 [see summary at end]
Initial activity (guided freewriting
looking ahead on the workshop, then share one question or idea with neighbor)
- Prompt for freewriting: "When I think about ways that a one-day workshop could help me in Critical Thinking and Refractive Practice in relation to Biology in its Social context, the hopes that come to mind include…"
Overview of workshop goals [see above and Process themes
3-5] and schedule
Autobiographical backgrounds: “How I came to the point where I would want to join in a workshop on Critical Thinking and Refractive Practice in relation to Biology in its Social context”
- Gives participants an opportunity to
- 1. introduce themselves in narrative depth, their current and emerging work,
- 2. learn more about each other
- 3. provide diverse material for cross-connections
- Peter Taylor goes first to model, then 5-7 minutes each (in small groups, given the workshop size)
Everyone encouraged to take notes on points of intersection, interest, curiosity.
After every third introduction, stop to draw connections (on a large sheet of paper) and discuss with a neighbor what is emerging.
After all the intros, extract from our sheets of connections 5 statements or questions. Discussion (time permitting) of commonalities and differences.
please type up the 5 statements or questions immediately after the workshop and email them to email@example.com so they can be shared as a discussion post to this page
Make notes on how to adapt or adopt freewriting and the autobiographical background activity into our own settings.
Focus on Discussion paper (precirculated and read in advance) related to the workshop topic.
- Taylor, P. J. (2009). "Infrastructure and Scaffolding: Interpretation and Change of Research Involving Human Genetic Information." Science as Culture 18(4): 435-459.
- Participants relate how the papers intersect with or stimulate your own thinking. (The author, if present, stays quiet, listening. After that author joins in the discussion, which continues for the time remaining. The emphasis is on participants teasing out your own thinking more than on digging into what the author thinks.)
Make notes on how to adapt or adopt into our own settings this form of response to a shared reading.
Lunch, including sign up for one-on-one consultations.
Check-in: "I did not expect to be thinking about..."
Strategic personal planning
regarding establishing personal, interpersonal, and institutional support for translation of tools, processes, connections, and insights back into our specific work settings. (Examples will be drawn from http://www.faculty.umb.edu/peter_taylor/ISHS10_Taylor
; see http://www.faculty.umb.edu/peter_taylor/ISHS18Feb10PostIts.pdf
on tools, processes, connections, and insights regarding Critical Thinking and Refractive Practice in relation to Biology in its Social context
please type up this daily writing immediately after the workshop and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org so it can be shared as a discussion post to this page
Make notes on how to adapt or adopt into our own settings Daily Writing
(a.k.a. "Office Hours")
- an opportunity to consult with a specific individual to pursue questions, air ideas, or make connections with a view to “explor[ing] ways to open up new directions in our thinking, research, and engagement.”
Make notes on how to adapt or adopt into our own settings this form of one-on-one consultations.
(introduced in a way that can be taught to a group on the spot) http://www.faculty.umb.edu/peter_taylor/dialogue.html
) on: what support do we need if we are to translate tools, processes, connections, and insights from the workshop back into our specific work settings and to open up new directions in our thinking, research, and engagement
please type up immediately after the workshop and email it to email@example.com so it can be shared with the other contributions as a discussion post to this page
- Gather thoughts to be shared
- Closing circle: One thing we are taking away to chew on or put into practice (recorded)
Make notes on how to adapt or adopt into our own settings the Dialogue hour format.
review of workshop
Make notes on how to adapt or adopt into our own settings the Plus-Delta review format.
End of formal workshop
Further discussion over early
dinner at TBA
Post-workshop, email firstname.lastname@example.org
the following, for him to attach as discussion posts
to this wikipage:
- The 5 statements or questions extracted from our sheets of connections
- The Daily Writing
- The gathered thoughts
The transcript of closing circle and plus-delta will also posted.
Supplementary reading: Taylor, P. and J. Szteiter (2012) Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement
. Arlington: The Pumping Station (online as paperback or pdf from http://thepumpingstation.org/books
or as paperback from other online booksellers).
1. Participants always bring a lot of knowledge about the topic, so allow that to be brought to surface and acknowledged.
2. What you really learn from a workshop or participatory experience is what you integrate with your own history and concerns.
3. The challenges of a workshop are: a) for the tools and processes and for the connections made among participants to yield new insights about the topic; and b) for what happens in those 3 areas to carry over from there here-and-now of the workshop into our work and life situations.
4. The workshop should unfold according to the sequence of “4Rs”: a well-facilitated collaborative process keeps us listening actively to each other, fostering mutual Respect that allows Risks to be taken, elicits more insights than any one person came in with (Revelation), and engages us in carrying out and carrying on the plans each of us develops (Re-engagement).
5. There should be reflection on each phase to take into next phase.
6. Emphasize inquiry—seeking clarifications and deeper understanding—more than advocacy, making a statement, or establishing shared conclusions.
7. In any go around, it is OK to pass.
8. Facilitators ("leaders") shouldn't try to do so without arranging assistants and support.
9. Be proactive to retain space for your own generativity in an unfair world where other people discount your contributions and waste your time.