Post-Grant Reports


Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant Report

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Comparative Philosophy | Epistemology | Ethics and Political Philosophy | International and Comparative Education | Philosophy | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education


Bureaucratized efficiency, infused with self-centered individualism and opportunism, and loosely defined as getting the most for the least, characterizes the ethos of our capitalist democracy. Yet this ethos is antidemocratic and morally corrupt in both conception and practice. In a more humanizing form of democracy, one worthy of the best kind of American idealism and demanding the courage and efforts of our moral convictions, we would: not be asked to choose fiscally between our children and our elderly, not engender an underclass of powerless labor, and not require so many walls and fences and prison bars. Rather, we would: maintain shared public spaces and environmental integrity for our children and theirs, cultivate more harmonious relations with other peoples and beings, and embrace effort because it is rewarded by the fruits of competence. In fact, our goals would, at least in principle, resemble the goals of the newly minted democracy of Bhutan. It is our contention that the goals expressed by the Bhutanese leadership are not simply a reflection of their unique needs but are the goals required for humanistic democratic practices.

We define an educated person to be a person who has the relevant learning skills, life competencies, and content knowledge to be a self-directing and productively informed citizen of a democratic system, especially one that is pluralistic. To be a well-educated person is to be T-shaped; to have a broad general education, like that attained in a good liberal arts tradition, and a deeper expertise in some area(s) suited to one’s abilities, or what Sir Ken Robinson calls one’s “element.” It is also to have core competencies including civic, moral, scientific, cultural/historical, and techno-data literacies. Through our study of local forms of innovative pedagogy, built on community engagement, we prescribe a pedagogy designed to engender the virtues of empathy, resiliency, and perspectivity and to support the discretionary critical competencies necessary for a pluralistic democracy. Three complex virtues are particularly relevant to our prescription for the educational system required to produce well-educated persons in the 21st century: pluralistic perspectivity, empathic compassion, and individuated resiliency. Perspectivity and resiliency are key to the metaphysical and epistemological underpinnings of our pedagogy, while empathic compassion is key to the formation and development of virtuous individuals. Through case study analysis and comparative educational philosophies, we outline a blueprint for a pedagogy that is localized, individuated, and inherently democratic, producing citizens capable of speaking truth to power.


This research was conducted as part of a Linfield College Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant in 2017, funded by the Office of Academic Affairs.

The student collaborator was Josh Harper.

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