2009 Conferences > Implications for Psychology

Implications for Psychology: Workshop Prospectus

In 1909 G. Stanley Hall had a vision of using a series of conferences as a platform for bringing fresh ideas to major areas of study at Clark University. In addition, Hall sought to consider the relevance of such reflection for innovations in teaching methodologies for educating newcomers to these fields. The 2009 workshop will use the 1909 conference series as an inspiration for fresh consideration of issues of knowledge, practice, and experience. Three keynote speakers from different disciplines of the human sciences and a series of presentations by six additional speakers will provide the opportunity for a small group of pre-registered participants to engage in rigorous discussion of how these concepts have changed over the last 100 years and how they have influenced current sense making within the Academy.

Knowledge production and dissemination will provide a starting point for analysis, followed by consideration of whether we are currently facing a new environment in the twenty-first century from which to revisit the question of the relationship between theoretical, scientific, evidence-based knowledge on the one hand, and public, everyday, and practical knowledge (common sense) on the other. This opens up the possibility for a critique of knowledge and the question of where and how knowledge originates and how it develops and spreads over time and space.

Practice has rarely been conceptualized as a cultural or communal space in which knowledge is generated. The emergence of knowledge and novelty in communicative practices will be a second theme of this workshop. Knowledge will be considered in terms of locally situated processes. This will lead to a consideration of issues of generalizability and the role context and universals play in problem solving. The workshop will examine tensions in the relationship between theory and practice by carefully examining the disconnect between the two.

Experience and identity constitute a third set of issues that will be considered at the workshop linking practice and the generation and dissemination of knowledge to the diversity of different experiential backgrounds and pathways of individuals, communities, and organizations in development. Acts of social identification in families, neighborhoods, peer groups or schools involve actors who are both objects and agents in such processes. The question can be posed whether and to what degree these more experiential factors can be integrated into the conceptualization of knowledge and practice and how this ultimately impacts psychology as a discipline and the human sciences more broadly.

Workshop Goals

There are several signs that the academy is involved in a process of rethinking its relationship to issues of knowledge, practice, experience and their inter-relationship. The goal of the 2009 workshop is to provide a focused opportunity for academics in psychology and other human sciences to consider issues of meaning making in their respective fields. Tapping into the themes of knowledge, practice, and experience from two vantage points – one that takes off from outside the current disciplinary boundaries of psychology, and a second vantage point that starts from within the field—will open up new frameworks from which to consider human issues of consequence. Just as the original conference series opened up a new type of academic celebration and festivity, it is hoped that the proposed workshop will provide a forum for discussions of questions on the frontier of human knowledge and practice that will benefit all of the human sciences in the years to come.

Plans are underway for an edited volume so that ideas from the workshop can be disseminated more broadly.