Co-Sponsored by the Department of Design and Innovation and Organizational Behavior
Ken and Mary Gergen of Taos Institute
PBL Room 121
In Western culture, aging is typically viewed as a period of decline. Few look forward to “being old,” and vast sums are spent on avoiding the appearance. However, the common view of aging is a cultural construction. The negative stereotype is being challenged by the steadily expanding ranks of older people, including in the workplace. At the same time, there is little in the way of a successor image currently available, and particularly an image that can inspire new and more flourishing forms of life. Kenneth and Mary Gergen have been engaged for some years in attempting to reconstruct the vision of aging as an unprecedented period of growth and enrichment. This vision of positive aging also has significant implications for the health and well-being of the aging population. They will discuss and integrate a wide-ranging array of relevant research.
Kenneth J. Gergen, Ph.D.,
Mustin Professor of Psychology at Swarthmore College
Founder, President, and Board Chair of the Taos Institute
Kenneth J. Gergen, Ph.D., is a major figure in the development of social constructionist theory and its applications to practices of social change. He also lectures widely on contemporary issues in cultural life, including the self, technology, postmodernism, the civil society, organizational change, developments in psychotherapy, educational practices, aging, and political conflict. 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 published over 300 articles in journals, magazines and books, and his major books include Toward Transformation in Social Knowledge, The Saturated Self, Realities and Relationships, and An Invitation to Social Construction.
Mary M. Gergen, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita of Psychology at Penn State University, Women's Studies Program
Founder, Treasurer/Secretary, and Board Member of the Taos Institute
Mary M. Gergen, Ph.D., has positioned herself at the intellectual convergence of feminist theory and postmodernist thought, as a social constructionist. She has been involved in a great variety of the Taos projects, including conferences, organizational consulting and educational spheres. Gergen received her Ph.D. at Temple University in social psychology, and taught at Penn State University in Psychology and Women's Studies. Her intellectual focus originates at the intersection of social psychology, feminist theory, and social constructionist ideas. Gergen has published many articles in journals, magazines and books, and include: Toward a New Psychology of Gender, edited with Sara N. Davis, Feminist Reconstructions in Psychology, Narrative, Gender & Performance (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage 2001) and Social Constructionism: A Reader (London: Sage, 2003) (Edited with K. J. Gergen). Among her earlier publications is Feminist Thought and the Structure of Knowledge.
Together, Kenneth and Mary Gergen publish an electronic newsletter, Positive Aging (www.positiveaging.net) now distributed to 20,000 recipients.