“no longer possible to simply continue along previous lines”

To be interested in creative thinking in epidemiology is to accept that it is “no longer possible to simply continue along previous lines” (to quote a foreign participant in a past workshop). Now, it makes good sense to continue along previous lines—to apply the techniques we are skilled in, seek grants from the sources that have funded us, address the problems we are recognized as experts in, collaborate with colleagues who have worked well in a team before, acknowledge institutional constraints, and so on. Moreover, continuing along previous lines does not mean we do not change, but that change builds on what we are comfortable with. Yet, an interest in not simply continuing along previous lines means we seek perspectives, problems, tools, connections, and audiences that might trouble us—make us feel not so comfortable—when we do continue along previous lines.

Question for readers to comment on:
• What factors have influenced you in the past to shift your original direction of research or even your career (if this has happened to you)?

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About Peter J. Taylor

Peter Taylor teaches and directs programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He studies the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context as well as innovation in teaching, group process, and interdisciplinary collaboration (see bit.ly/pjtaylor). He is especially interested in conversations with others who are, in diverse ways, "troubled by heterogeneity" (bit.ly/tbhblog)
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