Philosophical Enquiry in Higher Education

Philosophical Enquiry: its method and purpose in Higher Education – A workshop sponsored by the Higher Education Academy

There is growing interest in philosophical enquiry in HE as a pedagogy to enrich learning and teaching and also as a means to engage with the wider community, including links with schools. This workshop – a HEA-sponsored collaboration between SAPERE, Heythrop College, and Thinking Space – shared aspects of Community of Philosophical Enquiry with colleagues from HE and asked: what might CoPE do elsewhere in education?

The morning began with a presentation on the theory, practice and potential of Philosophical Enquiry in HE. This was followed by examples and reflections from two different institutions – Heythrop and Leeds – in which philosophical enquiry had been used with BA and postgraduate students, in a school linking project, and as an extra curricular activity.

After lunch we had a model philosophical enquiry that was inspired by a short film ‘Un-contacted tribes.’ The question discussed was: “Can we really own anything?” and the ensuing dialogue covered notions of ownership such as unrestricted access and absolute rights, as well as attempting to disambiguate types of property such as land, artefacts, ideas and ones’ own body.

After the enquiry participants discussed the potential of philosophical enquiry in their own setting and participants shared ideas as diverse as using philosophical enquiry in the training of Anglican ministers, in widening participation projects, as an enrichment exercise in UG philosophy courses and as an extra curricular activity.

SAPERE has a page for colleges with further information
SAPERE also hosts a forum for those interested in sharing good practice and resources: Those wishing to join can email:

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