Social Construction: Premises and Practices | Fall 2022

A 6-Week Taos Institute Online Course 
August 29 – October 10, 2022 (1 orientation day and 6 live group sessions)

Facilitator: Celiane Camargo-Borges, Ph.D.

This online course features videos and writings of Ken Gergen, Mary Gergen, Sheila McNamee, Harlene Anderson, Barnett Pearce, John Shotter, Saliha Bava and more.

This 6-week online course introduces the framework of Social Constructionism, presenting cutting edge ideas and concepts on the collaborative construction of realities, reason and value. It introduces common premises and orienting ideas central to dialogue and meaning making.  The course provides the groundwork for understanding how groups and organizations can work in the context of continuous, and sometimes radical change, and how innovation takes place by embracing dialogic approaches.

The course consists of six modules with readings, videos, activities, learning partner conversations, writing and online dialogues via digital platform. There is also one live zoom call every week where participants have the chance to get to know each other, to engage, to learn together and to create an international network of learners. Furthermore, participants can use the space to share and get support on how to implement Social Construction in their own research/practice.

The course is facilitated by Taos Institute Board Member, Celiane Camargo Borges, Ph.D. Some of the live meetings have guests to enrich the conversation on the topic.

Below a short summary of what each module and online dialogues will be about:

Module 1: Creating our Learning Community
This module is about creating a vibrant learning community. What does it take to design a space where people engage, belong, and learn together? In this module we will present a collection of ideas and thoughts that give support to the creation of a collaborative and creative learning community. You will learn by doing, by getting to know your cohort, an international group of professionals that will be the support system for the next 6 weeks.

Module 2: Introduction to Social Construction
Social Constructionism is a theoretical movement that brings an alternative philosophical assumption regarding reality construction and knowledge production. According to this approach, meanings are socially constructed via the coordination of people in their various encounters; therefore, it is always fluid and dynamic. In this module you will learn the core assumptions of constructionism and how to articulate the ideas within your own professional practice.

Module 3: Dialogue and Discourse
Given the social constructionist approach to language and communication, we realize how powerful dialogues are and how through communication we can generate new meanings, actions and therefore new realities. Even though one cannot control nor predict conversations, they are not random. We can design for productive dialogues, creating a reality that might be more generative to those involved. Participatory and collaborative systems and resources for designing fruitful conversations are explored.

Module 4: Social Construction of the Person
In a constructionist perspective, individual rationality is also a construction in language, meaning that it is not conceived of as an attribute of individual thinking but as a consequence of cultural convention. This module will explore individuals as relational beings. Focus will be given on the possibilities and implications of embracing a more relational and complex understanding of the person, helping us to create a space where all voices are welcomed, and new possibilities are brought to the challenges we face.

Module 5: Research/Inquiry as Social Construction 
This module will focus on knowledge as a socially constructed endeavor rather than a discovery of a pre-existing truth or singular reality. Therefore, inquiry here is an engaged activity, a co-creative endeavor. Understanding the constructed nature of knowledge brings a relational orientation, encouraging openness, multiplicity, appreciation, and engagement in research.

Module 6: Social Construction: Promises and Challenges
In many contexts constructionist ideas are highly controversial. Here we consider a number of common challenges and opportunities. Do constructionist ideas help us construct more livable futures? How do they invite us to see our problems in different and more liberating ways? In what ways do they allow us to approach conflicts with curiosity rather than judgment?

Weekly Live group calls will be as follows:
Mondays at 12:00 – 1:30 PM New York/Eastern U.S. time

Orientation – Monday, August 29 at 12:00 noon NY time (required)
Week 1, Mon, Sept. 5 – Module 1: Getting to know one another and creating a vibrant learning community
Week 2, Mon, Sept. 12 – Module 2: An Introduction to Social Construction
Week 3, Mon, Sept. 19 – Module 3: Dialogue and Discourse
Week 4, Mon, Sept. 26 – Module 4: Social Construction of the Person  
Week 5, Mon, Oct. 3 – Module 5: Research/Inquiry as Social Construction
Week 6, Mon, Oct. 10 – Module 6: Social Construction: Promises and Challenges

Required books:
An Invitation to Social Construction, by Kenneth J. Gergen – To buy click here
Social Construction: Entering the Dialogue, by Ken and Mary Gergen – To buy click here

Registration fees: See below for registration form.
$600 general
$500 student

50% refund for any cancellations up to four weeks before class starts. 25% refund for any cancellations up to two weeks before the class starts. No refund after that. 

What past participants are saying about this course: 

It has been an inspiring course for me, not only due to the wonderful people I met in the group, but also because of you as our facilitator, Dawn as our guide on the system, and all the interesting guest speakers that you have found available for us.

It was so much fun to be in this group. It has given me so much for my studies, my work, my personal live.

I have tremendously enjoyed and benefited from this entire course and its process and many nice ‘miracles”- wonders have happened along the way

The course validated my way of thinking and applying and I simply loved it! I learnt a lot! Thank you all!!

Great facilitation and organization and great team! Thank you all for sharing this journey with me and I have very much enjoyed being in a learning and exploring relation with you all.

Overall I would like to say how unexpectedly powerful this course has been for me. In fact I took the course without knowing exactly what it was about, trusting my intuition as I bought Ken’s book “The saturated self” .

The assigned and suggested readings were extremely helpful, as were the support and input from other participants. I especially enjoyed the individual weekly discussions with learning partners–and the way we had an opportunity to become partners with everyone in our “cohort” over the six weeks of the course.

It was very, very interesting to learn more about SC and I certainly deepened my knowledge, insight and hopes for the future. The relational self, the relation between SC and research are wonderful themes that were new for me.

I would like to thank you all for the learning journey. I learned a lot and it feels more as a beginning then an ending. A begin that is longing for more to explore and to process.

I appreciated the feeling of getting in touch with the rich resources. It is an important take away of the course into my daily life and work.

I really enjoyed the course and feel it was very helpful to my interests in learning more about Social Construction in general and informing my research directions in particular.

I dearly loved the conversations across the world. They were deep and intimate. The warmth of these connections stays strongly with me still. I wasn’t sure exactly how you wished we would bring our conversations into the writing.