Impossible to Simply Continue Along Previous Lines: Changing Life in Times of Crisis

New England Workshop on Science and Social Change
Location: The Pumping Station, Arlington MA, USA (map)*
Dates: October 2016, Sat 8th at 8.30am to Tuesday 11th at 5pm (preceded by a cookout from 6.30pm on the 7th)
  • (*a limited number can participate from a distance via google+ hangout)

In this four-day workshop participants will create spaces, interactions, and support in formulating plans to extend our own projects of inquiry and engagement around "changing life in times of crisis." As indicated below, a wide range of projects might fit under this intentionally broad topic; these need not directly related to science and society. Activities will, as they have at NewSSC since 2004, build on what the particular group of participants contribute and employ a range of tools and processes for "connecting, probing, and reflecting" so as to support and learn from each others' inquiries. The intended outcomes include: a) products that reflect our inquiries and plans, conveyed in work-in-progress presentations or activities (15 minutes) and revised in response to feedback so as to be shared outside the workshop, b) experiences that motivate us to take our individual projects beyond their current scope or level of activity, and c) stock-taking towards developing the workshop format. This format, in brief, includes an activity together as a group each morning and again for an hour at the end of the day. In between, time is spent in independent research related to this scenario, in conversations, and in other pursuits that participants find helpful for advancing our projects.

The workshop, as a space for reciprocal "scaffolding," can accommodate participants with diverse projects. "Changing life in times of crisis" would fit if you were exploring what direction to pursue in your work and life, clarifying tensions in what you are doing (or desire to do) and clarifying what is hidden by you – and from you. It would also fit if you were studying the changes in agro-ecology that followed the population collapse in the New World after the Spanish invasion. Or teaching about the massive famines of the late C19 under British free-trade policies that ruled out disaster aid. Or analyzing the effect of victory gardens during WWII or helping build urban community gardens in the current Great Recession. Or looking at demographic changes and care of the elderly in expansive or impoverished settings. Or at the environmental and social impacts of fracking and renewables as alternative responses to energy demand and climate change. Or engaging in some quite different project that addresses some kind of change during current or impending crises.

Applications are sought from teachers, researchers, graduate students, and activists who are interested in facilitating discussion, reflection, avid learning, and clarifying one's identity and affinities in relation to the workshop topic. The workshop format will allow for a limited number of participants over the internet. Newcomers and return participants are welcome.

Registration is on a sliding scale--$125 (for those with low incomes and lack of travel support) up to $300 (for those with a decent income and institutional/grant support). Registration covers meal costs, but not accommodation. The funding available to help get people to the workshop is modest, but we have managed to subsidize travel and accommodation in past years according to need (which favors graduate students and independent scholars, but does not count out those with regular positions but no travel budgets). Some free accommodation should be available at the houses of local participants; this will be assigned according to financial need. Online participant registration is on a sliding scale: $50 - $150. Some funding support supplied by The Pumping Station.

Applications via No deadline, but applications after 15 August are less likely to get requests for subsidies met.

Participants should talk to the organizer or assistant before the workshop to explore ideas for developing projects making good use of the workshop format.

Organizer: Peter J. Taylor, University of Massachusetts Boston, Science in a Changing World graduate track,, with assistance from Pam DiBona.

Wikipages for participants (password-protected)
Evaluations and reports