Learning about ourselves when learning about meat consumption - Introducing epistemic recontextualism


About this course

The terms "post-truth" and "post-factual" mark a shift in public discussions. These shifts are characterized by the fact that it is not so much the scientific validity of statements that determines their influence on public discourses as the affective and emotional resonance that they can trigger. In this perspective, "truth" is not only that which can be proven, but that which corresponds with the prevailing convictions and values of. For questions of communication, participation and education in the context of sustainable development, the postulated post-factual tendencies pose massive challenges.
This seminar introduces students to a practice called epistemic recontextualism (ER). ER is based on the assumption that the way we deal with new information and arguments (especially if they deviate from our opinion) is strongly influenced by factors that have nothing to do with the actual ‘truth’ or ‘quality’ of the information or argument itself. While these influential factors often remain unconscious, they can be brought into consciousness and replaced by attitudes that allow for a more open, benevolent, and constructive dealing with new information and arguments. As such, ER represents a method that is designed to counter post-truth tendencies and lay the foundation sustainability-related learning and decision making based on multiple perspectives and different forms of knowledge.
The seminar comprises two thematic strands: For one thing, it deals with the question of whether or not people should consume animal-based products as an example for a complex sustainability-related topic. Students play the roles of decision makers in this process, aiming to reach an unequivocal consensus within the group on the current facts. For another thing, the content-related work will be complemented by a systematic self-inquiry of the inner states and processes that accompany and influence the dealing with contents related to animal-based foods.

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

  • Describe and critically assess interdisciplinary perspectives on current animal production. In particular, they develop the ability to make a critical assessment of the ethical relevance of this topic and to take a well-founded, reflective stand on this debate
  • Describe and explain - based on personal experience and insight - how inner states and processes affect our dealing with new arguments and information
  • Better observe, stay with, accept, or intentionally alter inner states and processes and cultivate a stronger sense of self-determination with regard to these states and processes
  • Practically apply basic first-personal data collection methods to access, deepen, and describe their inner worlds (related to sustainability) and use data analytical methods to derive intersubjective meaning from their first-personal data
  • Work with specific techniques and practices to independently continue and deepen the learning experiences obtained throughout the course
  • Consciously adapt a posture of modesty, openness, and benevolence in (not only) content-related communication and knowledge exchange

Required prior knowledge

Assumed Knowledge:
No prior knowledge concerning the seminar content is needed. Please note: This is not a pro-vegan or pro-meat seminar. Students will collectively inquire into the topic and develop consensual knowledge on the topic. All standpoints and eating habits are hence most welcome!

Link to more information

  • Credits
    ECTS 6
  • Level
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  • Start date

    2 September 2024

    • Ends
      25 October 2024
    • Term *
      Period 1
    • Location
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    • Register between
      1 Jun, 00:00 - 4 Aug 2024
These offerings are valid for students of Utrecht University