CfP: Phenomenological and existentialist approaches to inquiry pedagogies

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Author :
Joris Vlieghe and Naomi Hodgson


The special interest group on Phenomenology and Existentialism in Education invites papers to be submitted for a panel at the Annual Conference of the Philosophy of Education Society (PES), March 17-21 2016 in Toronto (Ontario, Canada). 

See the full text of the Call with submission details below:

The readiness to inquire into one’s world has long been part of what it means to be an educated person. Along with the growing importance which individual learning skills and competences have gained in education, inquiry has, itself, become a notion of central relevance in contemporary pedagogies. This could involve experiential and student-centred methods, problem-based and enquiry-based learning, pedagogies that start from real-world problems, and many other approaches.  Compared to old school pedagogies, inquiring is seen as a more efficient, empowering and ‘honest’ way for pupils and students to develop knowledge and skill. And so, an inquisitive stance is regarded as something pupils and students should be willing and able to take. ‘Inquiry stance’ isn’t a mere attitude or skill, but is seen by some authors as a ‘habit of mind’ and as a ‘worldview’, as an essential component of personal autonomy, and as a precondition for a more just and harmonious society. On the part of teachers, it is stressed that they themselves need to exhibit a disposition to inquire in order to develop inquiry skills in their students.

It could be said that inquiry stance is also central to both phenomenological and existentialist traditions in philosophy. For phenomenologists, understanding the meaning of some reality requires that one partakes in a lived-through investigation of the phenomenon at hand (‘eidetic reduction’). And, for existentialists the way to achieve a truly free and human life implies the readiness to inquire -- in a radical and incessant manner -- our opinions on, and attachments to, the world in which we live. For both traditions, this call to inquiry is closely connected to the world as we experience it, and to concrete ways in which we find ourselves ‘situated’ in our (daily) life-worlds. This implies that inquiry stance isn’t a merely cognitive and intellectual matter, but a bodily disposition too.

For this panel, organized by the SIG on Phenomenology and Existentialism in Education, we invite contributions that explore pedagogies of inquiry from a perspective that takes into account the body of students and teachers, as well as the concrete situation in which inquiry takes place.  We deliberately do not define inquiry stance in any detailed way, leaving open the possibility for contributors to deal with inquiry in a broad manner (comprising critical, experiential and experimental attitudes and dispositions). We invite contributors to respond to the tradition of existentialism and phenomenology, but are open to other approaches that in their style of research and thought reflect the concerns that are fundamental to this tradition.

We welcome standard papers as well as presentations that perform inquiry themselves -- and which take the opportunity to turn ideas on inquiry in education into a bodily lived-through matter of concern. We are interested in contributions that are supportive of inquiry pedagogies, as well as in presentations that are critical thereof. Furthermore, the SIG supports young scholars, and we therefore explicitly invite (doctoral) students and early career scholars to submit a proposal for our panel.

If interested, please send a 500 word abstract and tentative bibliography to by October 1st.  Through blind review, the committee for phenomenology and existentialism will evaluate the proposals based on the rigor of the argument, connections to the central theme, and philosophical urgency. Acceptance and rejection notifications will be sent out by November 1st.  Please note that the final panel proposal will then be submitted to PES for review.

Further questions can be directed to Joris Vlieghe at

For more information about the conference:


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