Dr Peter le Breton
BA Economics (UWA); MA Economics (UMKC); PhD Transformative Studies (CIIS); Certificate IV in Assessment & Workplace Training (ATO)

Associate Lecturer

About me

I’m a teaching scholar at Murdoch University. As well as being an active qualitative and theoretical researcher, I’m passionate about teaching and the teaching-research nexus. I think of myself as a scholar-practitioner, as my professional life has been divided between business, government and academe. In business, I founded and developed independent and specialized retail bookstores for over twenty years. As a public servant in Port Moresby and Canberra, I worked on social indicators, urban and regional development strategy, and poverty. More recently, I led a team of corporate trainers within the Australian Taxation Office.

In the academy, my Masters thesis Scientific Method and Human Values, with Particular Reference to Economics, an interdisciplinary study of the “value problem,” was completed in 1971 at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. My doctoral dissertation The Farther Reaches of Human Learning: An Interpretative Study of Mastery, completed in 2014 at California Institute of Integral Studies http://www.ciis.edu/, is a transdisciplinary study of masterly learning, artistry in learning, and learning to learn. In the spirit of Abraham Maslow and other scholars exploring “the farther reaches of human nature,” the research is based on the premise that individuals and society can benefit enormously from studying the growing tip of humankind, and not just the mediocre and pathological. Self-actualization (in Maslow’s sense) rather than self-aggrandizement is the point of the study. The main focus of the inquiry, and an exemplar of this growing tip, is Josh Waitzkin, who achieved expertise or even mastery in both chess, a mental art, and Tai Chi Chuan, a martial art. Waitzkin’s masterly achievements in two disparate domains—a decidedly rare phenomenon—raise many questions, explored in this research, about the mindset (or self-theories) and strategies (or processes) most conducive to high-level learning, including learning to learn. In particular, the key role of intuition in masterly performance is examined.

Teaching area

I teach within the Centre for University Teaching and Learning (CUTL) and the School of Arts. Within CUTL I have taught the enabling program On Track for four years. Within Arts I have taught Academic Learning Skills, plus multidisciplinary courses such as Ideas in Action and Next Life. In 2015 I designed a short, intensive, immersion program Creative Literacy for CUTL.

Research areas

My research and approach to scholarship is transdisciplinary, which adds a vital dimension and balance to academic scholarship. In my view, transdisciplinary knowledge is complementary to, and in equal partnership with, disciplinary knowledge, not an alternative to it. Some explanation may clarify what I mean. By contrast with inter- and multi-disciplinary approaches to inquiry, whereby topics are viewed through the lenses of two or more disciplines, transdisciplinary research is integrative, rather than additive, in the sense that it is a prism in the mind of the researcher that crosses or ignores disciplinary boundaries. An analogy is that when looking at a scene under a blue light, or a red light, only some things are visible, whereas under sunlight, very much more can be seen.  Because the meaning and value of transdisciplinarity is contested within academe, I emphasise that for me disciplinary knowledge and transdisciplinary knowledge are mutually supporting and equally necessary. As we know from holography, cosmology and modern physics, the parts can not be understood without understanding the whole, and vice versa. We need both atomistic and holistic approaches, not one or the other.

Current projects

I design and run occasional programs on group dialogue (after David Bohm) and Appreciative Inquiry (after David Cooperrider). I’m working on transforming my doctoral dissertation into a book for the general reader.

Awards and grants

In 2010 I won a competitive scholarship from Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California to fund my doctoral research into supernormal learning.

In 2009 I was the recipient of an International Scholarship for PhD studies at California Institute of Integral Studies.

Events and speaking engagements

Keynote speaker at the international Heroism Science Conference—The Rise and Future of Heroism Science: Promoting the Transdisciplinary Study of Heroism in the 21st Century, 11-12 July 2016, Murdoch University, Perth:

https://heroismscience.wordpress.com/conferences/1094-2/

http://www.lab-tajribi.com/blog/review-heroism-science-conference/)

I presented Intuitive Repertoires, Meta-Learning and Consciousness—Cultivating the “Flowering Spirit” at the inaugural conference of the Society for Consciousness Studies, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, 29 May-1 June, 2014. Complexity theory and cybernetics point to recursive relationships between intuition, learning, and behavior—all three of which impact the content and quality of consciousness. The Flowering Spirit is the translated title of Zeami’s 15th century classic on the art of Nö, a form of traditional Japanese drama. The metaphor represents beautifully how outstanding athletes, musicians, painters, scholars, entrepreneurs, and so on, cultivate the flowering spirit—they carry the seeds of flowers for every occasion, which enable them to perform gracefully and often effortlessly even under the most dire circumstances.

Joy of Excellence: Expressing our Essence by Moving Beyond Proficiency to Mastery, Skywest Lecture, University of Western Australia, November 2012. I’m in love with excellence. I will share with you why pursuing excellence or expertise or mastery in virtually any field of endeavour can be delicious—just ask Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I will tell you why most people settle for mediocrity, for surviving instead of thriving, and why many of us are less happy and fulfilled than we can be.

In September 2010 I presented and led a seminar Evoking Love in Higher Education at Murdoch University’s Institute of Social Sustainability. In most organisations, including universities, love is not an idea in good currency. Yet we know that love is a fundamental human need and motivator. If we look at the many ways in which love is expressed within organisations, it seems silly to deny its importance, repress it, and not talk about it or consciously integrate it into our work and relationships. Clearly, many scholars and scientists get much enjoyment and pleasure from their work, just as many students do from their studies. And many people love coming to work—to teach, research, study, manage, etc. in part because of the people they work with. Reducing fear and other barriers to the taboo on the “L word” is a challenge for universities. In this talk I consider: (1) Why looking at higher education through a “lens of love” is critical to effective thinking about problem formation and problem resolution, including global sustainability issues, such as climate change; and (2) how we can make our research, teaching and learning more loving and more telling, and why this is a key to personal and social transformation—to making a difference that makes a difference to ourselves and to others.

Professional and community service

I served on the foundation committee of the West Coast Steiner School in the early 2000s.  I was a board member of the Family Planning Association of WA (Inc) in the 1980s.  In the 90′s I served on the executive of the WA branch of the Australian Booksellers Association (Inc), and hosted the annual national conference in Perth of the Australian Campus Booksellers Association.

Publications

A selection of my academic papers, in addition to those listed below, can be found here: http://murdoch.academia.edu/PeterleBretonPhD

le Breton, P. (forthcoming 2017). “Scholarly Heroism: A transdisciplinary perspective on David Bohm’s transformative scholarship and intellectual exile.” In Journal of Humanistic Psychology.  https://heroismscience.wordpress.com/conferences/11-2/special-issue-call-for-papers-heroism-and-the-human-experience/   

le Breton, P. (2014). The Farther Reaches of Human Nature: An Interpretative Study of Mastery.  ProQuest LLC: Ann Arbor, Michigan. http://gradworks.umi.com/36/21/3621061.html

le Breton, P. (2012). “Evoking Love in Higher Education: Towards a Sustainable Future.”  Journal of Conscious Evolution, Issue 8, 2012. http://www.cejournal.org/issue-8

le Breton, P. (1995). “A Change of Thinking” Business Directions, 60, 1995.

le Breton, P. (1994a). “Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest” Business Directions, 54, 1994.

le Breton, P.  (1994b). “The Team Building Tool Kit: Tips, Tactics, and Rules for Effective Workplace Teams” Business Directions, 53, 1994.

le Breton, P.  (1994c). “The Last Book You’ll Ever Read – and Other Lessons From the Future” Business Directions, 52, 1994.

le Breton, P. (1994d). “Technotrends: How to Use Technology to Go Beyond Your Competition” Business Directions, 51, 1994.

le Breton, P. (1994e). “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk” Business Directions, 50, 1994.

le Breton, P. (1994f). “Peaceful Chaos: The Art of Leadership in Time of Rapid Change” Business Directions, 49, 1994.

le Breton, P. (1994g). “Does Your Organisation Have a Learning Disability?” Business Directions, 48, 1994.

le Breton, P. (1994h). “Reengineering Your Business” Business Directions, 47, 1994.

le Breton. P. (1990) “Down to Earth Bookshop” in The Success Book: A Look at 50 Western Australian Quiet Achievers, Richard Keeves, ed., Victory Press, Perth, Western Australia.

le Breton, P. (1983a). “Megatrends; Ten New Directions Transforming our Lives” Whole Life Times, Spring, 1983.

le Breton, P. (1983b). “Survival Now: The Human Transformation” Whole Life Times, Winter, 1983.

le Breton, P. (1982). “The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s” Whole Life Times, Spring, 1982.

le Breton, P. (1982) Mind Food for the Future: A Guide to Books on Personal and Social Change, Down to Earth Bookshop Press.  This 80-page book is an annotated bibliography of transformative literature, and other books carried by Down to Earth Bookshop.

le Breton, P. (1974). Poverty: An Urban Paper, the Department of Urban and Regional Development, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra. The paper was in part re-published in 1976 as “Poverty and the Social Order” in Australian Politics: A Fourth Reader, edited by Henry Mayer and Helen Nelson, Cheshire, Melbourne. https://www.academia.edu/190004/Poverty_and_the_Social_Order