HDLC Special Topic Course: EPSE 604a Phenomenology in Practice

Dr. Barbara Weber (HDLC/ISGP)
Time: Wednesday 1-4 pm, WT 1

EPSE 604a – Phenomenology in Practice

This advanced graduate-level seminar addresses students of education, psychology, social studies, and philosophy in order to explore how phenomenological and hermeneutical theories of understanding and perception can deepen and inform our research and educational practice.

Course Description: 

The German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer writes in 1990: “The art of questioning is the art of questioning further – i.e., the art of thinking. It is called dialectic because it is the art of conducting a real dialogue . . . [A] person skilled in the ‘art’ of questioning is a person who can prevent questions from being suppressed by the dominant opinion.” (373)

As researchers and educators, we are called upon to reveal, what has remained hidden, bring to the foreground what has been suppressed as well as to give voice and understand those who have been silenced. In this endeavour to ‘genuinely understand’ the art of questioning is core because it is the direction of our question that opens up the horizon from within which an answer can be heard. The goal is to continuously widen this horizon.

This advanced graduate-level seminar will explore how phenomenological and hermeneutical theories can deepen or inform our research and educational practice. To do this, we will explore thinkers like Hans-Georg Gadamer (art of questioning and understanding), Maurice Merleau-Ponty (embodiment), and James Mensch (political action). Following those examples, we will practice phenomenology and hermeneutics ourselves through interviews, writing, observations, group discussions, creating curricula, and writing.

This class is designed as a discussion, reading, and writing-intensive course. Yet by following Merleau-Ponty’s point: “We know not through our intellect but through our experience.” (Merleau-Ponty, 1945, II) you will have the opportunity to use those approaches for engaging on a more practical level. Feel free to bring your own research project, thesis in progress, educational context, or question of your choice and we will create an assignment that attends to your interest. The topics can span from eating disorders to children’s rights to Black Lives Matter.

The readings, assignments, and activities for the course will take an interdisciplinary perspective and will be of relevance for those working in a variety of fields (e.g., social science, education, health sciences, philosophy). No background in phenomenology or philosophy in general is required for taking the course. Course content will be delivered via readings, lectures, some online sessions, in-class discussions, and guest speakers.