A Centre for International Education Research seminar
Presented by Dr Mikateko Höppener, University of the Free State, South Africa
Martha Nussbaum’s list of capabilities contains two aspects that relate to our capacity for reason, namely: ‘practical reason’ and ‘senses, imagination and thought’ (Nussbaum, 1999). While the former refers to the process of forming ‘a conception of the good and to engage in critical reflection about the planning of one’s own life’, the latter refers to one’s ability ‘to imagine, to think, and to reason—and to do these things in a “truly human” way, a way informed and cultivated by an adequate education…’ (Nussbaum 1999: 41). Fricker (2015) makes us aware that this articulation of rational functioning excludes mention of theoretical reason or our being contributors to shared information, evidence and understanding. It is Fricker's (2015) distinctly bi-directional conception of human well-being, as necessitating not only receiving but also giving, which forms the premise of this paper's argument for epistemic contribution as an inclusive learning outcome- understood here as the enhancement of university students’ valued capabilities and functionings, but also as the development of students as givers of knowledge, and not just takers.
But what do students (in this case poor, black students from rural areas) have to contribute to knowledge that is produced within, through and by universities? As Yosso (2005) and others have shown, the research lens has begun to turn away from a deficit view of communities living in poverty as places that are only full of multi-dimensional poverty, to instead focus on and learn from the range of cultural knowledge, ingenuity, capacities and networks possessed by socio-economically marginalized groups that often go unrecognized. Forms of capital fostered through cultural wealth that poor and rural youth might bring with them to university include ‘aspirational, navigational, social, linguistic, familial and resistant capital’ (Yosso, 2005: 69). Building on this notion, my seminar makes a case for different forms of capital as sources of epistemic materials and demonstrates why epistemic contrition ought to be considered as an example of inclusive learning outcomes.
Mikateko Höppener hold a MSc in Industrial Psychology from Universität Bremen (Germany) and a PhD in Development Studies from the University of the Free State (South Africa). She is the author of a book which offers a capabilities lens on engineering education and sustainable development, recently published by Routledge. Mikateko currently works on Miratho; a project on inclusive higher education learning outcomes for rural and township youth in South Africa.