Creating Conversations

Here in the Conversation Space, you are invited to participate in online conversations. To join a conversation, scroll down to the end of the conversation and click reply or enter your response in the comment box. You may also share video and photos. Please limit the width of  videos/photos to 500 pixels to keep the site easy to read.

You must be a member of the site to participate in discussions. If you are not a member, please click here to join. 

A week with the author - Ken Gergen

Thank you for joining with us for a week long conversation beginning on Monday, March 16th through Friday, March 20th, 2015 with oft-published scholar Ken Gergen about his new article "From Mirroring to World-Making: Research as Future Forming" about the re-framing of scientific inquiry from a passive mirror reflecting what is to an active, relational process that shapes the future.

We invite you to continue the dialogue and post questions or comments for Ken or the other community members to discuss current models of research and inquiry and what the future could hold.

Our week culminated on Friday, March 20th featuring a webinar with Ken further exploring the themes from his article and building on the discussion that emerged over the course of the week. To listen to a recording of the webinar click here: RECORDING OF WEBINAR

Two articles recommended by Ken during the webinar:

Pursuing Excellence in Qualitative Inquiry

Promises of Qualitative Inquiry

Winner of the 2014 essay competition, Independent Social Research Foundation, London, UK

In press: Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour

About the article:

The “science wars” of recent decades have largely subsided, giving way to what might be viewed as a condition of reflective pragmatism. However, the prevailing metaphor underlying most research across the social sciences remains that of the “mirror.” That is, even while conscious of its biases, researchers continue the attempt to reflect, explore, illuminate, or describe aspects of individual or social life. After considering some of the shortcomings of the prevailing practices, I offer an alternative to the mirror metaphor, one that defines the researcher in terms of world-making. By this I mean an orientation to inquiry in which the major attempt is not to assay the world for what it is, but to actively shape the contours of the future. A future forming orientation is especially invited by the increasingly rapid fluctuations in social life, and represents an alternative to the prevailing tradition and its unclear consequences for society. Shifting from a view of knowledge as propositional, to one of knowledge as praxis – or practical “knowing how” – I discuss research in a future forming direction, including critical inquiry, the creation of new practices, and collaborative action. Attention is also given to the role of theory, and to a relational ethic of research.

More about Ken Gergen:

Kenneth J. Gergen, Ph.D., is a founding member, President of the Taos Institute and Chair of the Board, and the Mustin Professor of Psychology at Swarthmore College. Gergen also serves as an Honorary Professor at the University of Buenos Aires. Gergen received his BA from Yale University and his PhD from Duke University, and has taught at Harvard University and Heidelberg University. He has been the recipient of two Fulbright research fellowships, the Geraldine Mao fellowship in Hong Kong, along with Fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, and the Alexander Humboldt Stiftung. Gergen has also been the recipient of research grants from the National Science Foundation, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, and the Barra Foundation. He has received honorary degrees from Tilburg University and Saybrook Institute, and is a member of the World Academy of Art and Science.

E-mail me when people leave their comments –


  • Wonderful. What an exciting opportunity to be in dialogue about these important ideas. Thank you Ken for engaging us in dialogue and exploration! 

  • I am so looking forward to join this conversation!!!

  • Ken´s paper brightened my day with its fresh perpsective. During the week of 3/16, I will enjoy discovering how the conversation rolls. Will the webinar be recorded and repeated? During the hour of the webinar my Collaborative Consultation Group will be meeting together for our usual bi-monthly meeting. Some of us may decide to form a subgroup and join in the webinar, but it might not be possible as our time together unfolds. I have registered and have the intention to add the webinar to our Consultaton Group agenda, but would like to know if there is a chance of catching a recording later. Thanks much.
    • Hi Marsha - We are planning to record the webinar. Just follow up with me after and I can forward you a link.

  • What an opportunity!!!

    I will be there. Sure!!!

    See you all. Thanks!


  • I am looking forward to the new insights!

  • Thank you, Dr. Gergen and the Taos Institute. The article was a gift.

  • I look forward to being part of the conversation. Happy about this fantastic opportunity! 

  • I am so interested to hear what Dr. Gergen has to say, though personally the article has done much of the speaking for him.

    The timing of this article is very fortuitous for me as I am just completing a qualitative, autoethnographic study of 13 people, with mental illness diagnosis, and how due to our collaborations new outcomes emerged for many, while everyone  had the opportunity to meet at least one more person who has recovered from a serious mental illness label(that person is me) 

    My research stems from a social commitment to help more recover and be more socially meaningful in addition to the personal gains it gives me to ground my experience in a theoretical framework and accord it a measure of seriousness, while not make the recovery of one person look like a chance. Moving within the autoethnographic frame, beginning with my own to reaching out to embrace the storied accounts of others has a been great experience for me and just when I was writing the last bit of it I came across this article by Dr. Gergen.

    And viola, I felt as though it were written with someone like me in mind- for my research has no academic gains for me, except for the 'future forming' ones. I do not come from, nor go to become a part of any university community. I come from lived experience and I take that as the basis of knowledge creation, which is then located within an emancipatory epistemology. 

    Thank you much for this piece Dr. Gergen I have already cited from your article, in the last few days itself and hope to delve into it once again, before sending my manuscript onward for publication.

    Regards from India

  • Such a great paper - looking forward to this conversation!  Thanks for organizing it.

This reply was deleted.

You need to be a member of Taos Institute Online Communities to add comments!

Join Taos Institute Online Communities

Live Support