Diagramming Intersecting Processes (a 30-minute guest activity for a class on graphic organizers)

Diagramming Intersecting Processes

Preamble on my motivation: I want more people to think in terms of “intersecting processes” (Taylor 2001), which means being able to read the diagrams I present, appreciate the theoretical implications of the concept, start to make their own accounts and diagrammatic depictions, and teach others to do the same.

Goals for students: 1. to understand the development of biomedical and social phenomena in terms of linkages among processes of different kinds and scales that build up over time—genetics, treatment, family and immediate social context, social welfare systems and economics, wider cultural shifts, ….
2. to use graphic organizers to help them visualize such “intersecting processes” and to identify places where detail is missing and where further inquiry is needed.

Pre-session Preparation: As well as you can given the information available and the fact that you haven’t been taught how to do this: 1. Read Paul (1997) from p. 7ff to identify important things in the life-course of a female with PKU (phenylketonuria) detected by neo-natal screening. 2. Categorize these things according to whether they involve the Condition of person with PKU; their Diagnosis and care; the Social support available; and the Wider social context. (A few examples are given on the graphic organizer on the other side.) 3. Position the things according to age of the person on the graphic organizer. 4. Indicate connections (e.g., X makes Y more likely) with dashed lines.

Session: Phase A: Think-pair-share about a) what was most difficult in using this organizer and b) what was most interesting about what emerged for you from doing the pre-session activity.

Phase B: Mini-lecture to introduce the ideas under goals 1 and 2 and the use of diagrams to identify missing detail (goal 2). Followed by Question & Answer.

References: Paul, D. (1997). Appendix 5. The history of newborn phenylketonuria screening in the U.S. Promoting Safe and Effective Genetic Testing in the United States. N. A. Holtzman and M. S. Watson. Washington, DC, NIH-DOE Working Group on the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Human Genome Research: 137-159. http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/research/fed/tfgt/appendix5.htm

Taylor, P. J. (2001). Distributed agency within intersecting ecological, social, and scientific processes. Cycles of Contingency: Developmental Systems and Evolution. S. Oyama, P. Griffiths and R. Gray. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press: 313-332.

Peter Taylor, peter.taylor@umb.edu

Director, Graduate Program in Critical & Creative Thinking, University of Massachusetts Boston, http://www.cct.umb.edu




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