Peter Taylor ( visited CES, Coimbra, Portugal in the autumn of 2012 as a Fulbright fellow. He is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he directs the Graduate Program in Critical and Creative Thinking and the Science in a Changing World graduate track. His research and writing links innovation in teaching and interdisciplinary collaboration with studies of the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context. This combination is evident in his 2005 book, Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement and in his co-written 2012 book, Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement (

On October 26th he gave the Inaugural Lecture for this year's CES Doctoral Programmes on "'No longer possible to simply continue along previous lines': Cultivating flexible, transversal engagement in intersecting processes of social and scientific change."

Abstract for lecture:
"'No longer possible to simply continue along previous lines': Cultivating flexible, transversal engagement in intersecting processes of social and scientific change."

“I made the wrong turn 30 years ago,” remarked a senior researcher in the final session of a half-day workshop I led last year on creative thinking in epidemiology. (In brief, he had designed studies to use the newest technologies rather than to understand the larger context in which health issues rise and decline.) How can we reduce our vulnerability to staying too long with our chosen path of research? Two ideals to address that challenge are introduced in this lecture and illustrated with brief case presentations from socio-environmental studies, social studies of mental illness, and interdisciplinary workshops for reflective practice.
Changes in political-economics, environment, population health, science—from soil erosion and disease incidence to establishing new knowledge—can be seen as the outcome of intersecting processes operating across different spatial and temporal scales, transgressing the boundaries of the situation under consideration and restructuring its "internal" dynamics. Analysis of such processes exposes diverse sites of engagement. In this light, transversal engagement is an ideal, in which practice and policy
a) takes seriously the creativity and capacity-building that seems to follow from well-facilitated participation among people who share a place or livelihood;
b) mitigates adverse trans-local decisions, such as those made in governments and corporations operating on a larger spatial and temporal arena; and
c) incorporates the knowledge-making of non-local or trans-local researchers—people who did not share experience of and commitment to livelihood in one place—including their analyses of abstracted dynamics of political-economic change.
Flexible engagement is a complementary ideal in which participants in any knowledge-making situation connect quickly with others who are almost ready to foster participatory processes and, through the experience such processes provide their participants, contribute to enhancing the capacity of others to do likewise.
New CES doctoral students will be encouraged to connect these ideals with their own interests in knowledge-making and social engagement—and to question the picture presented in the lecture.

Video of the lecture:
Slides from lecture: downloadable CES12.pdf or online here, with audio: .
Plus-Delta responses at the end of the Lecture

On November 9th, he gave a lecture at the IBMC in Porto, "Troubled by Heterogeneity?
Questions for public health, heritability studies, and personal genomics" (abstract, slides, audio, sources)

From November 24-27, he ran a workshop on "Troubled by Heterogeneity?"

On November 30th, he ran a session for the Doctoral programmes on "Creative Habits and Reflective Practice"

On December 14th he ran a 3-hour "Learning by doing" workshop to supplement the "Creative Habits and Reflective Practice" session on Nov. 30th. All CES students and researchers were welcome. Instructions were in English, but most activities could be undertaken in your preferred language.

On December 18th he ran a one-day workshop on "Biology in Society: Critical thinking and refractive practice" at IBMC in Porto.

On December 20th a brown bag lunch session was held around his essay review, “Biology as Politics: The Direct and Indirect Effects of Lewontin and Levins.” (A sense-making contextualization of that work is available at

Other discussions during the visit:

Epidemiological thinking, reading & discussion -- met weekly for a dialogue hour to reflect together on how a sequence of readings connected with our differing interests.

Political ecology reading group and workshops under the ENTITLE program

Participation in Andamios collaboration, which built towards submission of a funding proposal, "No longer possible to simply continue along previous lines: Scaffolding alternative forms of cooperation to overcome 21 Century crises"

Interview on science "Challenging Ideias" (at IMBC in Porto,

Interview about problem-based learning & other innovations in teaching & group process,

He was also interested to learn about the work of CES researchers whose work intersects in any way with innovation in teaching and interdisciplinary collaboration (or group process), reflective practice, complexity studies, environmental studies and sustainability, social epidemiology and biomedicine, debates about biological determinism, social studies of science, or critical thinking. To this end, he invited CES researchers to arrange either a) a date to join him and his dog, Gilla, on a walk before lunch (c. 11.30am); or b) a date and time for him to listen to you describe your work, ask questions, and, if appropriate, make suggestions.

Participated in the 1st caminhada micológica no Baldio de Vilarinho (mushroom walk in the commons of Vilarinho),

Other photos and reflections are being added to and and