Pedagogies of the Unknown – studying for a future, without guarantees

Abstract

This PhD project starts from the question: how can we study for a future unknown? In light of anthropogenic climate change, a global environmental crisis, and its destabilizing impact on social and economic systems, there is an urgency to examine how we relate to the future in our pedagogy; how we anticipate, imagine and prepare through our teaching and our studies. In the search of pedagogies that are open to not knowing – to contingency, unpredictability and change – the question arises: what could a pedagogy look like that supports our studies with and for the unknown?

At the basis of this research is a teaching practice; the classroom of aesthetic education at the intersection of study, creative work and the institution. From this base a performance practice has developed that draws from lecture performance and meditation as a quotidian and creative practice, to create a series of guided meditations. These are presented as art installations, as sound pieces and as activities in the classroom. The guided meditations propose an experiment in how to address the contradiction of learning for the future, by focusing, intently, on the present.

This project attempts to interrupt the linearity of critical consciousness theory by displacing Paulo Freire’s concept conscientização, or critical consciousness, from its place at the pinnacle of a linear telling empowerment, to a place where it is intersecting with other forms of consciousness. Simultaneously, the project raises a critique of Western constructs of utopia as the dominant form of imagining otherwise, by looking to feminist and de-colonial theory that resist utopian fatalism and claims to universality. The aim is to make a critical shift from utopia towards a constantly changing and undetermined future – the unknown.

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Nyberg_PedagogiesoftheUnknown_PhDproject2022