Toward Future Forming Science: Contours and Consequences

Summer School 2022 Public Lectures – Kenneth J. Gergen

When and where?
On Monday, 27.06., 7 to 9 pm in Lecture Hall 1 (Hörsaal 1) at IPU Berlin or online through Zoom.

Professor Ken Gergen
Professor Kenneth J. Gergen is an American social psychologist, emeritus professor at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and founding member and president of the Taos Institute. After graduating with a Bachelor degree from Yale University and obtaining his PhD from Duke University in 1962 he has gone on to be described as one of the 50 most influential psychologists and has published a series of classic articles (e.g., "Social psychology as history") and books such as “The Saturated Self” and “An invitation to social constructionism” with more than 100,000 citations (h-index 122, i10-index 429). His academic work has been developed around social constructionism, mainly analyzing the social processes by which knowledge is obtained and how persons are constructed in their cultural, historical and social contexts. Drawing upon figures such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, his work identifies and challenges Cartesianism in contemporary psychology, repositions thinking and feeling from being “in the head” to explore their creation and change in relationships, and applies insights about discourse to create generative and transformative dialogues in organisations (e.g., development of the Appreciative Inquiry approach). A book from 2009 on “Relational being: beyond self and community” that summarizes an alternative to a mainstream psychology focus on isolated individuals has now also been translated into German.

Professor Gergen has also analyzed the role that new technology extensions have on social construction. In his talk “Toward Future Forming Science: Contours and Consequences” he talks about how the rapid and everchanging race towards the future leaves us at a state of constant uncertainty. Professor Gergen argues that there should be an alternative to the traditional orientation and conception of how research is made. Instead of researching in the “eternal now” in a fixed world that will provide knowledge, that is to be improved tomorrow, he argues that research should switch its focus towards the active and relational forming and creation of the future we all wish to see. He talks about his ideas and routes towards achieving this end by sharing his journey in science and research.