The Taos Institute's mission is to bring together scholars and practitioners concerned with the social processes essential for the construction of reason, knowledge, and human value, and their application in relational, collaborative and appreciative practices around the world.
The Many Ways to Get Involved
A Special Tribute to Mary Gergen
"Mary’s connection with all aspects of our lives – the need to play, to relax, to work hard, to engage in serious conversation, and more – opened avenues for connections that were endless."
"She creatively found ways to put constructionist ideas into vignettes that mirrored everyday life."
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A Celebration of Mary Gergen

By Sheila McNamee, PhD, Taos Institute board member,
Vice-President, and co-founder; Professor, University of New Hampshire
It is with heavy hearts, deep gratitude, and overflowing love that we share the sad news that Mary Gergen passed away on the morning of September 22, 2020.

We all knew Mary as a lively, courageous, and innovative trail blazer. With Ken, Mary created a global community — a family of caring, committed scholars and practitioners whose central desire is to make the world a better place for all. And, the world is a better place for her presence in it and her connection to us all.

As I sit at my desk, two weeks after Mary’s death, I am filled with many memories, many emotions, and many thoughts. My spirit is simultaneously heavy and light: heavy with the sense of loss but light with the gratitude for Mary’s presence in my life. While it is difficult to imagine today, tomorrow, and the future without her lively spirit and creative intellect, I know that her presence remains in so many ways.

For those of you who have attended Taos conferences or workshops, you can thank Mary for the elegant touches, the special attention to food, drink, music, and other human pleasures. Mary’s connection with all aspects of our lives – the need to play, to relax, to work hard, to engage in serious conversation, and more – opened avenues for connections that were endless. I know that most who have attended a Taos conference always felt warmly welcomed. That warm welcome is in many ways due to Mary’s curiosity. She loved meeting others and quizzing them on their lives, their work, their ideas. She never shied away from letting you know what she thought – in this regard, I always thought of Mary as my “big sister” (“Do you really want to wear that?"). Mary always thought out loud. She invited us into her conversation, embodying the co-constructive nature of our worlds.

As a central figure in what we might call the constructionist movement, Mary, along with Ken, facilitated and encouraged the expansion of social construction both inside and outside of the academy. Through her scholarly writing, Mary brought constructionist ideas to feminist theory and practice as well as to practical topics such as ageing and retirement. For those interested in her academic profile, I encourage you to explore

I knew Mary as an avid reader, eager to integrate others’ ideas into her own work. Mary was also always playful and creative. Her passion for performative expressions of social construction and relational theory provided an alternative to the heavy tomes and academic jargon that often accompanies scholarly work. But Mary was also adept at speaking the language of the academy. In this way, she was multilingual. She creatively found ways to put constructionist ideas into vignettes that mirrored everyday life. With her multiple voices, she was able to share constructionist ideas and practices with a wide range of people – scholars, practitioners, and everyday people.

Mary was also a matchmaker. She loved connecting people with each other. In many ways, we might describe Mary as the Emily Post of social construction. Her social graces mingled with her intellectual sensibility, a sensibility that prioritized relational engagement and unfolding processes. We can thank Mary for inviting us into humanizing all aspects of our lives. She brought a warmth and practicality to her writing, her performances, and her presence with us all.

I will miss sharing food and conversation, dancing, presenting, deliberating about new initiatives for the Taos Institute, working on publications, her (sometimes unwanted) advice, and most of all, having her as part of my extended and immediate family.

We invite you to join in the honoring for Mary by posting a comment on our website.

Visit our website to share a story, memory, or anecdote here.

In this month's resources, we make a special tribute to Taos Institute Co-Founder and Board Member, Mary Gergen, Ph.D.

Mary's Videos, Podcast, and more
Featured Video

This video with Mary Gergen is one of fourteen interviews with relational theory thought leaders, researchers, and practitioners. It is part of the Relational Video Series produced by ThinkPlay Partners and supported in part by a Taos Institute grant.

Featured Podcast

Research into positive aging delivers findings that run counter to the traditional understanding of aging. Listen to Taos co-founder and board member Mary Gergen, Ph.D. as she shares her story.
Positive Aging Newsletter

Mary Gergen, along with Ken Gergen,
has been editing and producing
the Positive Aging Newsletter since 2001

Challenging the longstanding view of aging as decline, the newsletter provides resources for understanding aging as an unprecedented period of human development. By focusing on the positive aspects of aging, and the availability of resources, skills, and resiliencies, research not only brings useful insights into the realm of practice but creates hope and empowers action among older people. By moving beyond practices of repair and prevention, to emphasize growth-enhancing activities, practitioners also contribute more effectively to the societal reconstruction of aging.

It is also translated into 9 other languages. This free publication is available on the Taos Institute website and brings to light resources—from scientific research on aging, gerontology practices, and daily life—that contribute to an appreciation of the aging process.
Mary's Books
The Mary Gergen Memorial Fund

Many people have been asking us how they can contribute to the Taos Institute in honor of Mary Gergen and her important work in the world.

The Taos Institute is a non-profit organization and is supported by generous donations from people around the world. To honor Mary, we invite you to make your memorial donation by going to the link here.

The donations in this memorial fund will further research, community projects, positive aging resources and student scholarships.
New Book & Dialogue with the Author
Professional Development Opportunities

April 19 - June 6, 2021

A 6-Week Online Course with Celiane Camargo-Borges, Ph.D.  

This course introduces common premises and orienting ideas central to dialogues on social construction. The ways in which constructionist ideas differ from traditional, realist understandings of the world are explored. This course features videos and writings of Ken Gergen, Mary Gergen, Sheila McNamee, Harlene Anderson, Barnett Pearce, John Shotter, Saliha Bava and more. It consists of: weekly live calls, readings, videos, assignments, activities, learning partner conversations, online commenting, and writing. There will be live conference calls on Mondays from 11:00am-12:30pm Eastern US time. A mandatory orientation is scheduled for April 20, 2021. 

Spring 2021 - Dates to be determined
A 6-Week Online Course with Ken Gergen, Ph.D.

Relational theory now provides cutting edge ideas relevant to practices across the professions. The major theoretical shift is from the traditional focus on individuals to the relational processes that are co-produced. This 6-week online course introduces common premises and orienting ideas central to relational theory. The course consists of six modules with online conference meetings, readings, videos and online dialogues. For more information click here.

Oct 15-17, 2020

The fourth annual gathering where AI practitioners, and anyone interested in strength-based approaches, can come to renew their energies, revitalize their practice, and reflect with each other on what the world is calling for from this community. The event includes inspiration from industry thought catalysts, peer-to-peer learning, and large and small-group interactive dialogues. More details here.

Co-Creating A More Diverse,
Equitable and Inclusive World with Appreciative Inquiry

Oct. 28 - Nov. 18, 2020

A workshop to activate antiracist practices in your personal and professional lives. More details here.
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