Taos Initiatives & Grants (TAG)
To involve the Taos Associates more closely with the Institute and to advance our non-profit mission, we created a small granting program for the development of various projects that are initiated and carried out by Taos Associates. All projects approved for funding are designed to extend social constructionist ideas and practice into the world. They are in alignment with the Taos Institute’s organizational mission and purpose and contribute to the work of the Taos Institute in meaningful ways. We are pleased to be able to support these innovative and exciting projects.
Below are brief descriptions of the projects which have been funded through the TAG program.
2019 TAG Awards
Xavier Lobo Read – Documentary on Mental Health
This project consists of filming a documentary about Mental Health. We will include different voices of people who have experienced being labeled with a “mental disorder diagnosis” and also voices of professionals who work in this field. We will reflect on how we socially construct “mental health”, “mental illness”, and “mind”. How does one know that he/she/they are mentally healthy? This documentary invites us to question “evidence”, and explore voices that give new liberating meanings to a story constructed for the subjection of what we are told is “mind.”
The Project will:
– Facilitate transformative conversations with people that participate in the film and open these dialogues to society.
– Construct new possibilities that engage with freedom and justice for people and communities.
– Experience a therapeutic process through community action.
– Offer dialogue spaces through audiovisual media communication.
– Study the concept of “mental health” from a relational approach.
– Spread social constructionism as an alternative to modern dominant discourses
– Create documents that can be used to open new relational spaces for change.
– Learn, share and enjoy.
Patricia Miller – Issues for Emerging Adults Living with HIV
This future shaping project benefits the emerging adult HIV community in Calgary by utilizing dialogue generating practices to create a peer-support community. The monthly, peer-support gatherings build social capital through social gatherings. The monthly, peer-support gatherings also generates community building capacity that can inform future initiatives designed to build leadership-capacity, thereby reducing the impact of isolation, stigma and lack of social support for emerging female-identified adults, living with HIV. In addition to building social-support, this peer-support project directly contributes to the well-being of this community by building resiliency of this emerging community of adults. The HIV lived experience is central to all social networks built within the project, contributing to participant well-being by valuing the lived experience of being born with HIV and identifying their future needs through a dialogue based, peer-support model.
Read the final report of the project.
Rituu Nanda – Knowledge Fair: Community Learning in India
Constellation, Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), Centre for North East Studies & Policy Research (C-NES) have been facilitating Community life competence process and SALT for past 2 and a half years in three districts of Assam, India. The aim has been to stimulate communities to respond to the issue of child using the strength-based Approach. Objective of the Knowledge Fair was to bring together community members to share and exchange their experiences so that they can apply their learning back in their village.
Nelly Ndirangu – A Dialogical Model for Organizations, Institutions and High School Educators
This project aims at training Kenyan high school teachers and education leaders on applying social constructionist approaches to conflicts. Through participation in circles of understanding, we sustain what is valuable, i.e. lives, school property, and create new future visions of social justice and peaceful co-existence. This project builds on the restorative justice model as we explore the use of social emotional skills to restore justice and peace in schools. Our current situation in Kenyan schools has created a lot of gaps between students and school leadership. Students’ riots and violence are resulting from perceived injustices in school systems. The social constructionist and restorative justice project will be delivered in phases using traditional circles to introduce appropriate social skills in resolving conflict. Our target populations are teachers and students from selected high schools in Kiambu and Murang’a counties in Kenya, most at risk for riots, school fires and destruction of properties. Through social constructive circles, the teams involved will have opportunities to share their experiences with triggers of school conflict and riots resulting in loss of lives and destruction of properties. The dialogical process will result in value-based agreements among parties.
Diego Tapia Figueroa – Subtitle of Harlene Anderson Video
IRYSE, Relational and Socioconstructionist Consortium of Ecuador, produced this video for the promotion and socialization of social constructionist ideas among professionals and the general public in Ecuador to generate processes of dialogue and reflection and new possibilities in local contexts. It is the selection, editing and subtitling of the interview (and the course) presented by Harlene Anderson during her visit to Ecuador in 2018.
Paloma Torres-Davilia – Storytelling for Environmental Planning and Change in Casa Pueblo
In support of a multidisciplinary project that seeks to bridge the gap between scientific studies and what the wider community understands, this project will gather community testimonies and narratives through Listening Stations in story circles. These stories aim to inform the development and use of visualization tools that recreate environmental behavior and dynamics across a wide variety of environmental conditions. Through the use of these tools, communities can better plan agricultural development and promote food sovereignty. Stories gathered from veterans and coffee farmers regarding their experiences in Casa Pueblo, Adjuntas, an ecologically sound community in the mountainous region of Puerto Rico, particularly challenges faced through the island’s devastation by Hurricane María, will be shared in a Casa Pueblo archive as an oral history for audiences from other parts of the island, from abroad, and for future generations to come.
2018 TAG Awards
The Feathers Project: The Nest
This is a participatory art and research project on embodied movement and relational practices. A physical movement and resting “nest space” is created by a wooden structure, filled on the inside with a platform of soft materials such as pillows and feathers. This space invites participants to
remember the primal instinct for the archetypal home. It is an embodied space, created through the language of nature-based images, in which to open up internal intimate spaces and meet other living bodies. Participants are invited to remind themselves of what it is like to experience rest, feel safe, and to feel confidence in the world. Through guided movement meditation and contact improvisation practices, participants are supported in discovering the nest/space and exploring both their
bodies and the relational spaces in between people. In-person dialogues, online forum discussions, and theoretical research will culminate in an article about the project. This will be the first of several long-term projects re-imagining social being in the contemporary world.
Joaquin Gaete Silva, Ines Sametband, Karl Tomm
This project aims at recruiting practitioners to learn and share preferred modes of relating that they have encountered, identified, or co-constructed in their practice, including (but not limited to) what have they learned about facilitating these relational conditions (e.g., types of conversation) to real-ize (or make more “real”) peoples’ own preferred interpersonal patterns (IPs) and ways of relating. We will generate a virtual pool, widely accessible, in which practitioners first, and later on the general public can share, learn, and contribute to identify preferred modes of relating (within its meaningful local contexts). Our ultimate goal is to create an IP data-base that is accessible and useful to the general public (globally).
Lindsey Godwin, Ada Jo Mann, Joep de Jong, Sallie Lee, Robyn Stratton-Berkessel
The purpose of the World Inquiry of AI Impact is to issue a global call for stories of the impact Appreciative Inquiry has had on the lives and work of the many thousands of individuals who have been introduced to AI over the past twenty-five years around the globe. The purpose of Phase 2 of this project is to curate a series of videos which highlight the results of the video interviews for each of the four questions in the interview protocol as well as a short video summarizing the results of the project.
Videos about the impact of AI
We hunger to belong and yet churches, viable communities of practice in belonging, have taken on an oddly distant role in our worlds. This research project consists of three facilitated dialogues using social constructionist principles, open to the congregation of the Unity Church of New Westminster, as well as targeted interviews, resulting in an accessible research report in plain language, using graphics and perhaps skits, to create a “future forming” plan that will maximise the church’s community development potential while building congregation member’s strengths and the inclusion of marginalized people throughout the duration. Social constructionism offers many practical applications to bring to the spiritual ideas and concepts of the congregation and the mixing of the two should initiate a lively, action oriented dialogue.
Ellen Raboin and Gillian Haley
Like communities around the world, Sonoma County’s Homeless Service System (SCHSS) is in uncharted territory when it comes to caring for displaced residents. The old ways aren’t working and the new ways have yet to be invented. The system feels stuck. We see the opportunity to introduce social constructionist ways of working alongside traditional change work, and more interestingly, to support non-traditional ways of experimenting with possible ways forward.
In the face of affordable housing crisis and the nationwide social isolation epidemic, this project integrates social constructionism, traditional and nontraditional change work to catalyze collaboration within Sonoma County’s Homeless Service System and across the broader community. The traditional ways of working leverage the rational dimensions of the Three Horizons Framework while the nontraditional interventions such as social acupuncture and systemic constellations activate the non-rational senses required to create new connections and remove blockages that are creating the feelings of stuckness in the current system. The social constructionist lens will support inquiry into the relational work of reconstructing what it means to be neighbors in the 21st century in Sonoma County.
Gail Simon and Carlos Filipe Villar
This project aims to translate and publish John Shotter’s book: “Speaking Actually: Towards a New ‘Fluid’ Common-Sense Understanding of Relational Becomings” into Spanish and make it available world-wide.
2017 TAG Awards
Kerstin Hopstadius – The Choice in the Moment: Shared Experiences in Network Teams within Social Welfare Services
The purpose of the project is to take part in the ongoing practice of collaborative-dialogical meetings and explore with members of a network team within the social welfare services in Sweden. Together we will search for ideas that could be useful for the team in their work and in their teaching with more recently established teams or agency planning network teams. The project focus is to create a shift in thinking from pursuing preformed plans towards an awareness of what is about to happen – in the moment. Emphasis is on immediate moments in their network meetings, rather than intentions and outcomes. The shared experiences will be connected to ideas of perceiving human life as relational beings. Reflecting together with team members in connection to their meetings, we will be able to connect the immediate experiences to ideas of social construction of realities and relational being. Possibly this also means finding connections to relational and ecological perspectives on the human being of ancient and contemporary humanistic and ecological philosophies. An article and a film about the project will be produced to tell the story of the project.
Kumar Ravi – Priya Reconstructing Forgiveness and Reconciliation for Post-Violence Healing: An Ethnographic Study in India
Violence-affected communities not only undergo suffering due to loss of family members or injury and torture inflicted upon them, but also severing of long-standing harmonious relationship among the community members belonging to diverse ethnic, religious or ideological backgrounds. Studies that are sensitive to such cultural and socio-political contexts of post-violence healing might play an important role in facilitating meaningful efforts towards reconciliation and healing among the survivors. In this proposed project, I shall conduct an ethnographic study to develop insights about the perceptions of the community members as well as other stakeholders about initiating the processes of reconciliation and forgiveness for the purpose of healing of survivors of violence in India. Also, how such perceptions of divided communities will be shared with each other and networked for inter-community harmony and healing will also be explored. The insights about the interpersonal, cultural and socio-political processes shaping forgiveness and reconciliation might also be useful in rebuilding of social worlds of violence affected human beings in other cultures too.
Pedro Martins – An Invitation to Social Construction for Practitioners: From Concepts to Practice
This project aims to invite practitioners and students into the dialogue about social construction, by means of developing and teaching a course for practitioners, undergraduate and graduate students, so they will be able to: a) understand social constructionist epistemology and basic concepts; b) understand the most traditional practical approaches and resources that are offered from a constructionist standpoint; and c) promote creative processes of collaboration in the context of their work. From this experience of designing and teaching, the project also aims to promote a reflection about the impact of social constructionist concepts and practices on the ways in which students understand their own problems, as well as potential actions derived from these understandings, as they learn these ideas. This will be done by means of writing and publishing an academic paper in an international journal after following participants’ learning processes through their field notes taken within classes. This class will be offered free of charge.
Read the article in English or in Spanish.
Nelly Nduta Ndirangu and James Karanja Kamau – “Tukae Tusemesane” = “Let’s sit down and reason together” Appreciative strength building: A dialogical Model for Organizations, Institutions and Communities Leaders
This project will implement a dialogical strength-based curriculum designed to empower community leaders and institutional teams based on the ideas drawn from social construction and appreciative inquiry. A local term in Kenya, “Tukae Tusemesane” means, “Let’s sit down and reason together”. This project advances the practice of “sit down and reason together” to enliven individual and team strengths and send them outward into the community to resolve conflict among different ethnic groups that co-exist together. The curriculum aims at appreciating the social construction principle to sustain what is valuable and create new futures that require participation in relationships. The project will include health workers, teachers, counselors, social workers and youth leaders in the community in Kenya. A dialogical Model for organizations, institutions and communities leaders.
I. Create and support a dialogue targeting community leaders in Kandara Sub County in Muranga County, Kenya, applying dialogical process of sharing strength narratives in community to cultivate commonality and share vision.
II. Hold public forums where inter-ethnic differences can be validated and appreciated for peaceful co-existence.
Vicki Lugo – Voices of Survivors
“Voices of Survivors” is a project that began two years ago to give voice to victims’ of war through an open online format where they can explore new ways of being in the world. This project contributes to the restoration of the meaning for those surviving in Colombia. Our purpose is to advance the creation and development of a website where these voices can be heard. This website is a way of communication between survivors, state policy makers, scholars and civil society to advance the process of social reconciliation and will generate a public dialogue about surviving in Colombia. We have designed the website and now need to feed it with stories, images, videos, documents and examples of surviving and creating new meaning. The participants of this project come from isolated rural areas. We need to go there and work with them preparing the stories to be presented and exploring with the victim’s their organizations’ needs.
2016 TAG Awards:
Jeffrey Chang – Faraway Fathers: WIPs and PIPs in the Face of Paternal Absence
The objective of this project is to describe Pathologizing Interpersonal Patterns (PIPs) and Wellness Interpersonal Patterns (WIPs) in “oil patch” families while developing resource materials that support families, and the employers and therapists of those families. In this study, WIPs will be identified that families enact to, adapt to and surpass their family circumstances. Secondary content analysis of existing transcripts of interviews will be conducted with ten couples in which one parent (usually the father) works away from home for prolonged periods of time. The result would be to generate a clear description of the WIPs in “oil patch” families, to translate this knowledge into resource materials for families and those who serve them, and to provide support at the local level while providing another thread of social constructionist influence in the corporate and therapeutic arenas. Local knowledge from this context may assist others working with similar contexts in which family members are separated by distance for work.
Lindsey Godwin, Ada Jo Mann, Joep de Jong, Sallie Lee, Anastasia White, Robyn Stratton-Berkessel, Judy Rodgers – World Inquiry of AI Impact
The purpose of the World Inquiry of AI Impact project is to issue a global call for stories of the impact Appreciative Inquiry has had on the lives and work of the many thousands of individuals who have been introduced to AI over the past twenty-five years around the globe. As a part of this project a technology platform will be created to house the stories of impact. In so doing it will demonstrate and document the life changing impact AI has had around the world in multiple domains such as education, healthcare, community development, business, etc. and with diverse populations from the corporate boardrooms, to schools, to remote the village councils. In addition, it will showcase the power of narrative and storytelling and will pilot a new concept of “crowd narrative” as a qualitative “valuation” tool for measuring collective impact. The rich database of stories created by this project will be available as a resource for academic research, training in AI and concrete examples of success to share with potential clients and the field of OD.
Randy Janzen – Exploring the Potential for Implementing Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping at Volatile Public Confrontations in British Columbia
The purpose of this project is to explore the potential for implementing Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping (UCP) at volatile public confrontations in British Columbia. UCP is an innovative practice that has shown to reduce violence and build cultures of peace by de-escalating conflict in volatile situations. Informed by the key principles of nonviolence, non-partisanship and primacy of local actors, unarmed civilian peacekeepers engage in protective accompaniment, monitoring, relationship building and capacity development in communities and scenarios where the threat of violence is impacting civil society. Success of this project will raise public awareness about UCP, allow for a clear vision for the next steps in implementing UCP practices to reduce violence and promote peace and justice in British Columbia, and possibly co-create larger programs to provide unarmed civilian peacekeeping personnel at volatile sites throughout British Columbia.
Summary report of project: Click Here
Heve Otero – Preparation & Promotion of Social Constructionism Conference Videos for a Spanish-Speaking Audiencege
There have been many international seminars held by NGO Enfoque Niñez over the past 4 years under Masters and International Certificate program in Collaborative and Dialogical Practices (ICCP Taos Institute and Houston Galveston Institute) and combined there is some 50 plus hours of lectures. The purpose of this project is to edit and publish these lectures, and bring them to a Spanish-speaking audience as part of an educational video library on social constructionism and collaborative practices. The objective of this project will be to produce high-quality versions of conference videos and to have effective web-based promotions that will allow the materials to be used by training centers for Hispanic speakers. Upon completion, the aim is to provide a broad range of Spanish speakers with free and effective access to the ideas of social constructionism and collaborative practice through a virtual video library.
Marjorie Roberts – To Retire or Not?
This project is intended to put a spotlight on the experiences and meanings of retirement for individuals 60 or older. The aim is to shed light on retirement or continued work as a more dynamic process for many people, who have choices. In order to gain insight about this, an interactive blog has been created for respondents to share their reasons to retire or not. Through the narratives on the blog, the expectation is to uncover people’s reasons, experiences, and meanings for continued work or retirement. From the blog responses, grounded theory will be used to identify the themes in the narratives. All participants are informed on the blog that their responses are for the purpose of research. The themes will be looked at separately for the retired respondents and those that continue to work. The narratives obtained from the blog should highlight the complexity of these decisions. The results of the blog will be kept for personal use as well as professionally in therapeutic settings with older adults facing retirement choices.
Summary report of the project: Click Here
Dora Ayora-Talavera – Social Justice: Opening possibilities with kids living in children institutions
Amor y Vida is a non-profit, children’s institution (orphanage) that gives assistance, shelter, warmth and a place of security to kids that have been sent there by government agencies, because of abandonment, violence and abuse. The stay of children in this institution is indefinite, and varies greatly on time spent there. The aim of this project is to understand the conditions of living in Amor y Vida”, and create together personnel, intervention and research programs to contribute promoting positive relationships, spaces for open dialogues about children needs, worries and interests, positive social skills, health and education outcomes – through collaborative, dialogical and appreciative practices and literature and cultural activities. This project is an opportunity to explore potential impacts of these approaches in a wider project, that in the future could include more institutions and could be the beginning of a social transformation in supporting children in institutions.
Wick van der Vaart – Production of a new digital AI-Practitioner platform
The past issues of the AI-Practitioner have produced a treasure: hundreds of articles on Appreciative Inquiry and social constructionism, written by thought leaders and master practitioners in the field. The purpose of this project is to build a new platform for the AI Practitioner that will continue to produce new stories, case studies, research, and have more possibilities, such as sending out free articles and communicating with subscribers. The objectives of this project include making all the articles (past and future) of the AI-Practitioner available for the AI community and for communities of people who work as “dialogical OD consultants,” to sustain the AI-Practitioner, by inviting people to contribute in any which way they can and want; and to build a platform that looks fresh, modern, and is easily accessible.
See the new website portal at this link: https://aipractitioner.com/
Rudy Vandamme & Ann Sterckx- Collaborative Home Circles
Our belief is that citizens, in general, don’t know how to have a meaningful dialogue with others in a social constructionist way. That’s why we started experimenting with our collaborative circle conversations at home (‘home circles’), and the results were astonishing. With some minor practices, people start sharing their fears and worries, reflect on their lifestyle and come to new forms of understanding regarding societal and environmental issues. The collaborative circle conversations (‘home circles’) open up space for alternatives and different perspectives. Resilience, sense of belonging and feeling of engagement regarding environmental and societal issues in the neighborhood are enhanced. The purpose of the project will be to launch a movement of what we call ‘home circles’ in which people gather locally to enhance their community ties and resilience. The goal is to use dialogues as a vehicle for other local actions linked to environmental and societal issues.
Summary report of the project – Click Here
2015 TAG Awards:
Carlos Felipe Villar, Eduardo Villar, Kathy Isaacson – Virtual Course on Social Constructionism
Sistemas Humanos would like to be a leader in the virtual education by designing an online “course” to further the global commitment to social construction theory and practices, specifically in Columbia where there are few online courses available. The purpose of this project is to develop a bilingual (Spanish and English) virtual course on applied social constructionism in the context of creating an infrastructure for peace. The objectives are; to disseminate social constructionist ideas in the Spanish speaking community (specifically in Colombia), to foster the growth of the Taos Institute Community, and to explore the potential of virtual courses. The value that this project will bring includes development of a course that can be replicated, to foster the application of social constructionism and the involvement of new members to the Social Constructionist “World.”
The objective of this project is to observe and reflect on Chinese teachers’ experience of relational learning offered as a part of teacher training programme. The key goals include (1) to explore how social constructionist approach (through sharing personal narrative, meaning-making, co-inquiry and relationship building) might impact teachers’ learning and understanding of relationships in classroom; and (2) to understand and develop culturally appropriate approaches to relational learning within a tradition of filial piety in China. The research will be carried out as an ethnographic study, using participant observation, interviews and narratives, with a focus on exploring the Chinese teachers’ experiences relational learning.
In the summer of 2015, F-R-E-E (F-R-E-E, USA (FRIENDSHIP, RESPECT, ENRICHMENT, ENGAGEMENT), 501(C)(3) ) is planning expressive therapy train-the-trainer workshops in two different orphanages in Bosnia. Due to the nature of the population in the Bosnian orphanages, it is imperative for our organization to utilize a trauma informed lens to work with the children and care-takers. Our relationship-based approach considers the importance of providing a safe environment for children to authentically express themselves and collaborate together regardless of ethnic, religious, or cultural backgrounds. Our Theory of Change posits that IF ostracized individuals are empowered to take a more central role in their society, then they will recognize the possibility of changing their future. IF they feel empowered to change their future, and are taught to do this in partnership with others in their community, then members of society will work together across social strata to effect positive and creative change.
Tobias Greiff TAG report
David Anderson Hooker
In April 2015, the Greensboro (NC) Counter Stories Project will host a city wide dialogue process in Greensboro North Carolina in response to the question: “How can all community members, including police and local government officials, work together to establish a community in which everyone regardless of race, residency or citizenship status, feels safe, protected, and respected?” The process will involve group visioning for up to 150 people and then each person will participate in four weeks (2 hours per week) of narrative story circle process. The narrative restorative story circles will allow the development a rich description of the full range of experiences for community members in relation to the police. The groups will reconvene after the four sessions to make recommendations based on their narratives. Thirty five volunteers including grass roots leaders, local college students, leaders of the “Black Lives/Black Bodies Matter” local chapter, and police officers trained by David Anderson Hooker (Taos PhD 2014) to co-facilitate the story circle portion of the process.
“Voices of survivors” is a project to contribute to the restoration of the meaning of surviving in Colombia. Our purpose is to create and develop a web page where these voices could be heard. Also, this web page is a way of communication between survivors, State policy makers, scholars and civil society to advance in the process of social reconciliation and generate a public dialogue about surviving in Colombia.
This project will establish new practices of intervention within the Social Services that deal with child protection. In particular, as called for by Elspeth Mc Adams, we will work to ensure that operators aim to ensure that all those involved in the services (families, children, and operators) can be treated with equal dignity. We intend to achieve these goals through an initial targeted training to operators (social workers, psychologists, educators) of Social Services that deal with Child Protection in the City of Monza, and through the realization of at least 5 family group decision making processes with the aid of an Educator trained in Advocacy who gives voice to the younger children’s thoughts. We intend to introduce a collaborative practices approach in a difficult environment like the Social Services that deals with Child Protection. Through specific actions, we want to introduce the complex thinking of Social Constructionism that can reintroduce the subjectivity of users (children and parents), seen primarily as people.
With the video-project “Look out for your-self” we question the unity, unvariability and universality of the western identity concept that goes behind the psychiatric diagnostic discourse. Starting from the story of a woman who got the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, we challenge the spectator – by rhizomatic encounters – to open up the dominant problem-story and to experience the infinite agility, multiplicity and singularity of a Deleuzian dividu. This project is a continuation of the PhD research project entitled “psychiatric diagnoses and the co-construction of selfhood” by Jasmina Sermijn (2004-2008). In this project Sermijn et. al. researched the way people interact with the psychiatric diagnoses they were given, and more concrete how such diagnoses influence the way people co-construct their selfhood.
Our project is the construction of a website for our Research Laboratory called DIALOG (Laboratory for Research in Dialogic and Collaborative Practices, University of Sao Paulo – Ribeirao Preto, Brazil). The website will allow us to present our practices, our research publications and ourselves. We will offer social constructionist resources such as links to Brazilian and international social constructionist articles, books and e-books, videos and Brazilian university dissertations. Also, we’ll present the different social constructionist events around the world updating the website regularly. Another initiative is the creation of a space, on the website, for the Lab students and special guests to write and publish reviews of new publications in the area, and also for the translation of different social constructionist material, making it possible for non-English Brazilian speakers to have contact with this literature. Finally, we will build a space on the website for online interaction between students and people interested in knowing more of social constructionist ideas.
View the new website: Click here
This project will be the translation of Flourishing Together, a guide of Appreciative Coaching from Spanish to English. How can we help each other flourish? The book explores ways of understanding the power of our conversations, the language we use, and the images we share. How can we live our full potential being with others? An exploration to what gives life to our relationships. A guide to apply appreciative inquiry in coaching, mindfulness, meditation and other strength based approaches.
The purpose of this project is to further develop and improve our Chinese Social Constructionism Study Center and its website, to construct the center as a garden in which Chinese social constructionists can discuss their ideas and practices in education, research, organization and therapy,etc., and to make the website truly function as an important information dissemination and exchange station in the field of social constructionist theoretical research and practice. The project will be managed by Liping Yang, and will be carried out together by all the members of Chinese Social Constructionism Studies Center, including 6 professors, 5 doctoral students and 22 postgraduate students.
Laurie Charles – Fragile States/Fragile Families: Psychosocial Intervention in Post-Conflict Sri Lanka
The objective of this project was to highlight and document how psychosocial project delivery is performed in a post conflict setting. The goal was to learn how psychosocial workers (PSWs) in a post conflict country understand and apply culturally appropriate systems of meaning and structure with families who have overcome atrocities. The research project was ethnographic inquiry informed by social constructionist tenets; that is, it was focused on understanding the direct experience of the PSWs and their counterparts, who supervised and performed the direct services to individuals, groups, and families who have experienced atrocities in the region. The research was conducted in collaboration with associates of one university and two NGOs (non-governmental organizations) located in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This grant was a continuation of the original grant. The focus of this grant was to publish the translation of the study results into Tamil and Sinhala.
2014 TAG Awards:
Sandra Davidson – Relational Learning in Higher Education: Exploration of Emerging Practices
This project was to explore teaching and learning in higher education from a relational (social constructionist) perspective. The project provided the context and opportunity to engage in meaning making processes with teachers and scholars whose work was informed by relational practices. The guiding questions for this project were: 1) What does it mean to teach and learn using relational practices? 2) What does “good teaching” look like from a social constructionist perspective? 3)How can we support academics in higher education to develop relational practices? This project leveraged an existing network of relational educators who were globally dispersed but connect through their affiliation with the Taos Institute. Conversations and interactions between the researcher and Taos Institute associates (and among associates) was enabled via Skype, e-mail, social media (Ning and Twitter) and face to face meetings (where possible). See: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWc7J2dlDhw-BQBlP5wktiw and https://prezi.com/zznj7sktcvyc/relational-learning/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy
Angela Maria Estrada – The Development of a Virtual Course on Social Constructionism for the Andean Region, Central America and Mexico, Supported by a Relevant Book on Experiences, Reflections and Critics
The intended objectives were: 1) To develop curricular and pedagogical strategies for a virtual certificate on ‘Psychosocial Attention of Suffering as a Consequence of Violence’ based on social constructionist perspective. 2) To prepare the technical and operative inputs required for the virtual design of the course and to contact the target population. 3) To edit a reader on ‘Psychosocial attention of suffering in situations of violence’ as a pedagogical support for the course among others uses. One of the major contributions that this project intended was to generate a new look for social constructionism utilities facing different situations that occur in Latin America, for example, the transition from conflict to post-conflict and peace in Colombia. The focus is on victims and contributions made to the process of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition, as well as supporting the development of public policy on this issue.
Claire Fialkov and David Haddad – A Curriculum for Appreciative Strength Building: A Dialogical Model for NGO Teams
While character strength development programs in the workplace have been found to improve productivity and profitability (Peterson and Park, 2006), there are few curricula or programs designed with the Global South in mind that consider culturally relevant and relational processes. We propose to widen the cultural lens to include Eastern Africa and design a process using social constructionist foundational principles, self-reflection and guided dialogue to create a context for generative conversations. The curriculum combines Appreciative Inquiry with the emerging field of character strengths to offer a process to NGO teams aimed at the cultivation of character strengths in a relational context.
Click here for the curriculum: TUKAE TUSEMESANE – Let’s Sit Down and Reason Together: A Collaborative Curriculum
Adela Garcia and Pilar Padilla – Training Materials for Spanish Speaking Therapists and Therapist Educators
This project was to produce training materials for Spanish speaking therapists, educators and supervisors of therapists. The specific project was the creation and dissemination of training materials for the Spanish speaking community in all Spanish speaking countries, to gather people interested in these ideas as applied to therapy, and to broaden its scope to other areas such as education, community, leadership, as well as to generate dialogues with other voices who share the same collective premises. We believe that it is only through our involvement in actions that social constructionist ideas are validated, and that is the reason why we offer a novel experience of collective production which will benefit and embody the central proposals of the Taos Institute.
Samuel Mahaffy – Designing a Sustainability Plan for the Positive Aging Newsletter
The Positive Aging Newsletter (PAN) is sponsored by the Taos Institute and sustained largely by contributions from Kenneth and Mary Gergen. The newsletter brings forward a unique and compelling voice to challenge the predominant view of aging as decline. The central aim of this project was to amplify the voice of the Positive Aging Newsletter. Specific objectives were to design a plan that would: a) Dramatically increase the reach of the PAN in terms of numbers of readers around the world. b) Insure that the PAN is revenue neutral or revenue generating to the Taos Institute without any significant contribution from one or more individuals within a period of two years. The social reconstruction of aging was of paramount importance. It contributed to positive outcomes in the life of elders in terms of diminishing abuse and neglect and increasing quality of life. It supported the wisdom of the elder voice and the intergenerational connections that are essential to a more peaceful world. The PAN is better-positioned to do this work than any existing platform.
Janet Newbury – Tracking the Groundswell
This project was a follow up to a community event. Participants appreciated the opportunity for intergenerational, intercultural, and cross-sectoral connections and were eager for more. Being a community in social and economic transition, new realities were co-constructed by creating such avenues for connections. There was a great deal of interest in the community for us to ‘Track the Groundswell’ and continue creating opportunities for people to come together informally and formally in order to better learn from and collaborate with each other. Understanding that everyone in the community was uniquely positioned to take the lead when it comes to each of the 13 priorities developed at the event, we see our position as the conference planning committee (which consists of a diverse collection of community members) as one that can serve the important function oflinking existing initiatives and creating opportunities to build bridges among them.
Pavel Nepustil – Out of the Professional Box: Learning From People Who Overcome Their Addiction Problems Without Treatment
The project opened the possibilities of developing relational practice in the field of recovery from addiction (and beyond) by making the natural sources of change and transformation visible. People who overcome addiction problems without professional help are mostly invisible and unheard. Once they change their lives, they often hide their past that would stigmatize them in their surroundings. Professionals logically do not see these people and sometimes even do not believe they exist. Yet, studies have been conducted confirming that the “natural recovery” is the most common way of quitting addiction. Knowing more about the natural process that is carried out without professional assistance might be a great source for the further development of this professional assistance. This project provided for the translation of Pavel’s book into English for WorldShare Books.
Tahereh Barati – Translation Social Construction Books and Materials into Farsi
The project aims to translate English-language books and other materials containing social constructionist ideas into the Farsi language, thus sharing these ideas with a new audience. The hope is to make social constructionist ideas more accessible to a larger audience of non- English speakers. As I see it, translation is an excellent way of inviting people into new ways of thinking and of inspiring new practices of value in achieving global well-being. We live in a multi-cultural and multi -linguistic world, where conflict is pervasive. Making social constructionist ideas available and accessible in any language may be useful in creating a global community favoring and working toward peaceful coexistence. Co-creating a new community will require shared understanding and dialogue. These may be the key way to incorporate theory into our daily life practices. The potential to make such ideas available to a global audience without cost is vast, and it will be a pleasure to contribute to this end.
Duane Bidwell – The Children’s Hope Initiative
Research is clear: Hopeful children are healthier and more resilient than those who despair or lack the skills required to construct hopeful narratives. Strong, positive correlations link hope as a psychological construct to children’s academic performance, psychosocial resilience, physical health, and mental health. Thus, professionals seek effective (and empirically justified) ways to promote and nurture pediatric hope that can be integrated into the practices of healthcare professionals, educators, mental-health professionals, religious leaders, parents, and others concerned about the wellbeing of children. This project will establish the Children’s Hope Initiative at Claremont Lincoln University. It will be an open-access, web-based resource for parents, professionals and others interested in pediatric hope. The Taos Associates Grant will contribute to making this possible.
Kristin Bodiford and Celiane Camergo-Borges – Research 2.0 Website and Resources
The project will develop an online community building resource focusing on Research 2.0. Through Research 2.0 we hope to offer a way of thinking about research with a social constructionist orientation, as something organic, co-creative, embedded in daily life and work, and as transformative. Our goal is to build a community of practitioners from around the world and reach people who can be empowered with this way of thinking about research. At http://www.designingresearch.com we will create a website that will include:
- Be a resources for people interested in learning more about Research 2.0.
- Be an interactive blog for people to engage in dialogue with us and with each other.
- Provide short videos by Taos Board Members and Taos Associates to share their views on Research 2.0
- Provide short videos by people from all over the world developing creative research, connecting them and generating interaction and partnership.
- Create a storycatcher for people to share their stories of research from a social constructionist orientation.
- Also visit the Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/designingresearch
Edgardo Morales – Generating a Counter Story for Professional Practice
Participants of our dialogue group “Alternatives to Diagnosis and Pharmacology” at the Taos Institute 20th Anniversary Conference in April 2013 discussed the need to develop stronger coordinated “counter stories” that could challenge the dominant narratives in psychotherapy, on which the practices of diagnosis and “medication” are founded. From that conversation we explored the possibility that as a preparation for next year’s Norway conference, we could ask attendees and Taos Institute members to provide short narratives of interventions and inspired performances of practice that would serve as a rich source of material for the “alternative story” we had been conversing about. The project will take the form of a website where practitioners from all over the world can upload and download tales of imaginative relational constructionist practice.
Janet Newbury – The Civic Speakers Project
The Civic Speakers Project will engage a diverse range of citizens in information sessions and dialogues about concrete alternatives to existing policies and practices. Built on the assumptions that a) discourses influence our visions of what is possible and b) locally generated responses to public concerns are effective and just, we will create a series of forums in which new realities can be co-constructed through generative dialogues and actions that spring from these events. A volunteer group of concerned citizens with a great deal of experience organizing events have convened and call themselves ‘Voices’. This group will partner with existing institutions and organizations for the various events. Read the full report on this project: Relational Theories in Practice: One Community’s Experience
Monica Sesma – “Diagnostic Culture” and Social Constructionist Therapies: Opening Space for Counter-Practices
The purpose of this project was to examine how social constructionist therapists understand the influences of psychiatric/diagnostic discourses on “clients” and how they respond to families (or individuals) with a member “formally” diagnosed, self-diagnosed, or diagnosed by another member, using psychiatric discourses. The research questions are: 1) How do social constructionist therapists “initially” respond when psychiatric/diagnostic discourses are unfolded in therapy? 2) How do social constructionist therapists “therapeutically” respond to these discourses? And 3) How do social constructionist therapists facilitate their conversations or actions with clients to reflect upon/question/modify/supplement their diagnostic understandings?– To spread the view and voice of social constructionist therapists and practitioners, to share how they understand the influence of these psychiatric/diagnostic discourses, and how they deal or work with them in therapy.
2013 TAG Awards:
Ellen Raboin and Paul Uhlig – Promoting Inter-Professional Collaboration in Healthcare
Over the last 7 years we have worked to develop a conceptual model for understanding and implementing high reliability collaborative care that is rooted in communicative social construction principles. We are developing a set of materials intended to support inter-professional teams who are ready to implement collaborative ways of working in the hospital environment. We are now ready to “pilot” these materials in the field. The project will find ways to make it possible for inter-professional groups to “use” the toolkit as a conversation guide. In practice, this means exploring with many groups; looking for the preconditions and willingness to experiment that would be conducive with building collaborative practice. We have posted three of the four documents that make up the Collaborative Toolkit at: http://www.cca-home.org
2012 TAG Awards:
Laurie Charles – Fragile State/Fragile Families: Psychosocial Intervention in Post-Conflict Sri Lanka
The objective of this project is to highlight and document how psychosocial project delivery in a postconflict country incorporates relational understandings in its training of mental health workers. Technical assistance in humanitarian mental health contexts requires increased operational awareness to the political, social, and economic causes of suffering. It also demands sensitivity to the personal and cultural systems of meaning and structure that sustain those in distress during a humanitarian situation. Thus, this project will focus on how NGO (non-governmental organization) projects in Sri Lanka incorporate political, social, and economic causes of suffering in their psychosocial programming. This objective addresses peacebuilding efforts in transforming a country that had experienced 30 years of conflict, terminating in the end of the civil war in 2009.
Anne Radford – Special Taos Institute/ AI Practitioner Ph.D. Issue
The project is a special Taos Institute/ AI Practitioner issue focusing on Ph.D. dissertations completed in the Taos Ph.D. program that have a special emphasis on Appreciative Inquiry and related approaches. The issue is scheduled for publication in August 2014. It is the first time an AI Practitioner issue will feature the body of research from a PhD program and thus will serve as a significant illustration of the ways in which practice and research are united. Taking such a focus on Appreciative Inquiry will be of major interest to AI practitioners such as organizational leaders, researchers or consultants seeking to improve their practice. The research illustrations and practice options for practitioners will have wide appeal since they will come from different sectors, several countries and a wide array of disciplines. It is expected that this will set a precedent for AI-related PhD work from other universities to be featured in future issues.
Marilene Grandesso – Book Translation Project: Social Constructionism and Collaborative Practices
This project will create the translation of articles addressing the theoretical and practical aspects organized by social constructionists in different areas: therapy, education, organization and research into Portuguese. These will be translation of articles and book chapters covering theory and practice in order to spread basic social constructionist theory and derived practices to students and professionals in Brazil.
Liping Yang – Support for the Creation of the New Website for the Center for Social Constructionist Psychology Studies in China, Nanking Normal University
This project is to publish a “Chinese Social Construction Translation Series (CSCTS)”. This project has been successfully approved by Shanghai Educational Publishing House, which has very good academic prestige in Chinese publishing field. Social constructionism is a good philosophy to resolve the problems rooted in modernism and very few Chinese people know much about social constructionist theory and its application. As Taos Chinese Associates, we are commissioned with the important task of propagating social constructionist ideas in China. This website will house publications that extend social constructionist theory and practice. See the website at this link: http://xlxy.njnu.edu.cn
Xinping Zhang -The Practical Exploration of Organizational Change and Development of Primary and Middle School Leadership in Mainland China by Using Appreciative Leadership
The objective of this project is to explore the universal theoretical challenges during the process of using Appreciative Leadership Theory to promote the school organization change and development in 9 schools and to form and propose the specific suggestions and measures with strong operability to meet the needs of school organization change. Meanwhile, when following the practice of the change in these 9 schools, the study group of this project will constantly summarize the experience, and revise, improve and refine the appreciative leadership model that can be suitable for China’s cultural background and economy and social development level, which provide the convincing evidences, experience and theoretical reserves if the Theory will be promoted in a big range in Chinese mainland.
2011 TAG Awards:
Diego Romaioli – Book Publication for the Book in Italian: Multi-Being Therapy
The aim of the book is to offer students a better understanding of the implications of social constructionist ideas in clinical psychology and to stimulate critical and productive reflection. The hope will be to expand the range of possibilities for enabling people to participate effectively in ongoing relational process. Click here to download the book.
Jen Silbert – Providence Faces of Learning
This project will help change the face of public education in Rhode Island through community engagement that combines inquiry, storytelling, and dialogue in our capital city. Building on the national Save Our Schools (SOS) movement (http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/) to put the “public” back in public schools, and Sam Chaltain’s Faces of Learning campaign (http://www.facesoflearning.net/), the “Providence Faces of Learning” project will convene urban students, their families, and educators, as well as employers, community-based organizations, and residents for a series of conversational collaborative innovation forums. Our motto, simply put: people commit to what they help to create. By creating the space for education success stories to emerge, participants can socially construct new realities around “what’s possible” in a manner that inspires positive action, success replication, and collaborative innovation by all. Here’s our website and blog. Keep up to date with us on our Facebook page as well.
Ada Jo Mann, Anne Radford, Tony Silbert – Support the Creation of a Video, e-Journal for Innovations in Appreciative Inquiry: A Special Video Issue Of AI Practitioner
The purpose of this project is to produce a special issue of AI Practitioner to be launched at the 2012 Worldwide Appreciative Inquiry conference in Belgium, April 25-28, 2012. The topic of this special issue will be Innovations in AI around the Globe. This issue of the AI Practitioner will be an innovation in itself by publishing it in a downloadable format or on a USB stick using the medium of short video clips that will showcase outstanding examples of AI innovation from around the world. The focus of the examples will be in the area of generative and co-creative innovation. What are some of the breakthrough, next generation stories of AI innovation that are breathing life into the practice of AI around the globe. By taking this innovative approach, the examples can be used in training sessions, workshops and presentations around the world. This special issue will be produced through a partnership with AI Practitioner, an editorial team from Innovation Partners International and the Taos Institute as partial funder and future distributor.
Emerson F. Rasera – The Writing and Publication of a New Bbook – Constructionist Perspectives on Group Work: Practices and Reflections
This project aims to promote the development of “group work” based on a social constructionist sensibility through the publication of a book with varied theoretical and practical contributions. The book will be written by different Brazilian authors, covering diverse topics such as group work in different contexts, community work, institutional work, training and research. Its main audience is professionals and researchers interested in group work and social constructionist ideas. It will be submitted to the Taos Institute Press for analysis and publication. This project has the contributions of four Taos Associates (Emerson Rasera, Carla Guanaes, Celiane Camargo-Borges and Marilene Grandesso) and members of two important institutions in Brazil in the training of constructionist oriented therapists and the diffusion of social constructionist ideas – FAMILIAE and NOOS Institute (Carlos Eduardo Zuma, Eloisa Vidal Rosas and others).
Madelyn Blair – Support for the 2011 Annual International Conference on Story in Business
The purpose of this proposal is to request co-sponsorship and funding under the Taos Institute TAG Program for the Goldenfleece International Conference on Story and Business in the United States. This conference will promote social constructionist principles through the use of story.
Shayamal Saha – The Development of Tools for the Promotion of Self-Help Among Farmers Adapting to Climate Change in Bangladesh, Using Social Constructionist and Appreciative Inquiry Resources
The project will integrate the principles of Social/Relational Construction and the 4-D cycle of AI which offers us the potential and possibility to promote self-help means towards climate change adaptation in agriculture among these people. The main purposes of this project are to: 1) Pilot an AI cycle in a rural ( agri-livelihood based) community of Bangladesh in order to promote local innovations and actions affecting climate change adaptation in agriculture; 2) Develop a contextualized AI facilitation tools (useful for grassroots change workers) in order to facilitate farmers’ community in order to promote self-help with regard to climate change adaptation in their agriculture. Click here for the full report
Maurits Kwee – The Creation of a Website on Relational Buddhism
To promote these ideas, we need to build a solid, cutting-edge, modern website in tune with the present world. This implies a website which is built so that it can be easily updated and is connected with the digital social space through social media (i.e. Twitter and Facebook). The overall objective and mission of Relational Buddhism is to present and inspire scientists, healthcare professionals and the general public with a comprehensive roadmap to deal with existential suffering of everyday life by a relational outlook of life and modus vivendi in line with what the Buddha had taught. The website’s objective is to inform, link and inspire scientists, healthcare professionals and the general public, sustained and fed by the social media in order to build a virtual community and establish a strong online presence. Relational Buddhism website: http://relationalbuddhism.org
2010 TAG Awards:
Saliha Bava – Visual Resource Project
The purpose of this Visual Resources Project is to create an interactive databank of visual and interactive resources for training/learning about social construction which will also serve as an experiential virtual space for social construction of knowledge. The Institute’s sophisticated website provides an excellent backend design which makes this a cost-effective project while enriching the interactive experience of its web-users. Objective: 1) To design an interactive database of visual resources for training about social construction ideas 2) To construct the approved database. 3) To research resources those promote and illustrate social construction concepts/practices. 4) To make the virtual space a user-friendly space where practitioners can share their training tools. 5) To create the virtual space as an illustration of Social Construction practice.
Anne Morrison – Relational Learning Project
The purpose of the Relational Learning Project is to create a new section on the Taos Institute website which will feature projects from around the world that highlight the theory and practice of Relational Learning. The goal of this project is to expand the Taos community by making direct connections between relational learning and an existing undergraduate Peer Mentoring Project. The Peer Mentoring project at Kent State University is the first project to be featured on this site. Other projects being undertaken by the Taos community will be featured as well. By exemplifying the numerous benefits that social construction and relational learning have on students who actively engage in their education and co-construct meaning, we will be inviting educators to consider how these principles can be used in not only learning, but teaching and research, as well. In this project, we will demonstrate how social construction can be used as a teaching/learning tool, as well as a foundation for research methodology. Visit: www.taosinstitute.net/relational-learning-in-education
Tom Strong – Experiencing and Responding to the DSM-IV and Evidence-Based Practice: Accounts and Creative Responses from Social Constructionist Therapists
The purpose of this project is to survey the experiences of social constructionist therapists working with clients across different practice contexts. Qualitative analyses from the survey primarily answers the following related questions: 1) what are the experiences of constructionist therapists when using the DSM-IV and evidence based practice is expected? and 2) how have constructionist therapists resisted or creatively adapted to expected use of DSM-IV and evidence based practice? A website of related resources for constructionist therapists has been developed. This study was motivated by practitioners’ concerns about how their efforts to help clients had become increasingly constrained by institutional and fee-payer expectations that client problems were given DSM diagnoses. Our aim is to summarize participants’ experiences and resourceful ways of working with DSM when it is anexpected feature in helping clients. Visit: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ969557.pdf
Chris Blantern – Making Networks Happen
Making Networks Happen is a participatory Action Learning/Research project aimed at helping members (members are at the organizational level), particularly in the fields of both public and commercial service delivery, to work through complex “networking” issues. This approach enables participants to work on and learn from action undertaken on real, current organizational challenges. The objectives of this project are to: 1) Enable those concerned with organizing across boundaries, between agencies, and with multiple partners to improve service outcomes and to support people in working better together. 2) Generate productive action, shared learning, tools and methodologies and the co-creation of good practice and knowledge. 3) Record, publish and disseminate findings (papers, articles, DVDs, dedicated website). 4) Create a growing and accessible resource (a network) for useful help, working knowledge, shared enquiry and supportive relationships – for ‘making networks happen’. Visit: www.stringbag.net
Kathy Clark – New Ways of Thinking About Medicine, Law and Social Justice – soon to be a Taos Publication
The purpose of this project is to write a book which introduces new approaches, ways of thinking and practices to law and medicine and those associated with these professions, whether they are consultants, coaches, administrators, risk managers, or others. Health care is the focus of government and citizenry discussion and debate at the present time. Issues being debated include tort reform and “defensive medicine,” pitting physicians against attorneys in a culture of blame and finger-pointing. The analysis in this book describes new ways of thinking and alternatives to some areas of health care, such as medical malpractice litigation, disclosure, apology, healing, and reporting, among other issues. In addition to non-traditional approaches to these topics, the book also addresses the individualistic cultures of both law and medicine and opportunities to rethink and broaden those cultures and the language associated with them to one more collaborative and relational.
Christine Dennstedt – Insider Knowledges – Inspiring Resistance and Finding Freedom from Disordered Eating and Substance Misuse
This project is to create a website will that will document, circulate and archive the ‘insider knowledges’ of person’s struggling with substance misuse and disordered eating practices. The intent of the site is to create a space to share insider’s experiences about the ways that the problems of disordered eating practices and substance misuse work in their lives, and their ideas regarding ways to find freedom from these problems and how to best address these problems in therapy. This project will allow for persons’ ‘insider’ knowledges to be privileged for finding freedom from problems rather than professionals generating ideas as to how to best help persons with these problems. The website will be grounded in social constructionist ideas and practices. Visit: http://www.insiderknowledges.com/
Laura Fruggeri – The Conference on the Social Relevance of Psychological Research
Funds were granted to support a conference on this topic in Italy, April 2011 that was a productive confrontation among Italian scholars working on psychology and social issues.. The conference participants had the opportunity to reflect and discuss with the presenters about the influence that the research has in constructing prejudice, stereotypes, beliefs, and opinions, and also the influence that prejudices, ideas, beliefs and stereotypes shared within the community, and by the researchers as part of it, have on the planning and the realization of research projects.