Here comes the extended abstract I submitted to the next EARLI conference.
TITLE: The Emergence of inquiry wisdom in doctoral students
In the recent years the term responsible research and innovation (RRI) has gained a considerable attention in Europe as a cluster of ideas meant to re-think the role that research and science has in society (Felt, 2014). Unlike traditional approaches to the governance of research merely focusing on risk management (Levidow and Neubaue, 2014), RRI is an emergent framework that views research as a potential force that can positively contribute in tackling the so-called “grand challenges” of our time (Sutcliffe, 2011; Schomberg, 2013; Owen et al., 2013; Gardner and Williams, 2015). Yet very little attention has been given to the fundamental role that researchers as responsible professionals can have in making research more responsible (Bardone and Lind, 2016).
Recently, the idea of responsible professional and professional responsibility has been developed in the light of the Aristotelian notion of phronesis, which has provided an alternative conceptual framework for understanding professionalism (Green, 2009; Kinsella et al 2012). This approach stems from and builds upon a rich contemporary philosophical tradition (cf. Dunne, 1993) that has been reinvigorated in the last decade by several educational philosophers (i.e., Carr, 2004; Oancea and Furlong, 2007; Biesta, 2012).
In a nutshell, phronesis is the ability to act and deal with the contingencies and uncertainties of the practice, which necessitates the exercise of judgment (Furlong, 2013). Unlike forms of instrumental rationality that confine deliberation to the selection of the most effective means to a pre-determined end, in the phronesis based approach a professional is not seen as a technician that simply delivers solutions by selecting the most effective means, but a person who actively ponders means as well as ends of his/her own practice.
In my presentation I will focus specifically on doctoral students as future responsible professionals. More specifically, I will try to spell out a theoretical framework that can be used to investigate the emergence of what I propose to call “inquiry wisdom”. Central to my proposal is to look at those practical situations in the doctoral student’s journey “ in which he/she is forced to remain open to a form of deliberation that is highly context-dependent and situated.
In my presentation I will present a conceptual framework that identifies three main paradigmatic situations to look at to see the emergence of inquiry wisdom:
1) situations characterized by epistemic uncertainty in which the doctoral student should exercise judgment in deciding how to proceed in the course of his/her scientific inquiry. Unlike the idealized image of scientific method as a linear process characterized by a sequence of discrete steps, the whole process of scientific inquiry is often punctuated by chance events, which forces the researchers to apply judgment in particular circumstances;
2) situations characterized by ethical uncertainty in which the doctoral student faces issues concerning the ends of scientific inquiry in the broader social and ethical context. This includes making judgment concerning the more general public value that one’s discipline may have, the kind of problems that one’s inquiry is actually helping address, the consequences of one’s own inquiry in a broader sense (Brewer, 2013);
3) situations characterized by ontological uncertainty, that is, situations in which the doctoral student sees his/her own becoming as a researcher (Barnacle, 2005; Dall’Alba, 2009). The doctoral student is involved in a process of self-exploration (Hughes et al. 2013), in which she/he progressively establishes a certain type of relationship with inquiry and research, which is disclosing of his/her own way of being a researcher. This implies to face uncertainties that are characteristic to sense-making creatures and they pertain to one’s vocation.