Course: Ethics, Epistemologies and Capabilities (1-5 ects) 1.11.-21.12.2018 (part I)

Thursday, November 1, 2018 to Friday, December 21, 2018

the first part of the course 1.11. - 21.12.2018

The aim of the course, is to familiarize ourselves with the central theories and concepts of such theorists as Miranda Fricker, Ingrid Robeyns, Martha Nussbaum and Karen Barad.

  Miranda Fricker explored "epistemic injustice" in her 2007 book. The main question in epistemic injustice is an act of wronging someone "in their capacity as a knower." In addition to social or political injustices faced by women and minority groups, there can be epistemic injustices as well. She identifies two forms of epistemic injustice: testimonial and hermeneutical.

  Ingrid Robeyns has conducted research on applied ethical questions. She has evolved into one of the world's leading theorist on the “capability approach” - a post-materialist theory on well-being and freedom. Her book 2017, “Wellbeing, Freedom and Social Justice: The Capability Approach Re-Examined”, is both an introduction to the capability approach and a thorough evaluation of the challenges and disputes that engrossed the scholars who developed it.

  Martha Nussbaum's work on capabilities has often focused on the unequal freedoms and opportunities of women. In her book “Not for Profit Why Democracy Needs the Humanities”, Martha Nussbaum makes a passionate case for the importance of liberal arts in all levels of education. The humanities are considered central to education because they have been seen as essential for creating competent democratic citizens - including capabilities such as thinking critically and becoming knowledgeable, productive, and empathetic individuals.

  Karen Barad’s idea - that one cannot but ethically engage with the world - has central place in her theory of agential realism, which simultaneously an epistemology (theory of knowing), an ontology (theory of being), and an ethic. Followed by her thinking, because we are part of the world, we cannot exclude ourselves just for an observers. But specific practices of mattering have ethical consequences and, therefore, onto-epistemological practices are always 'ethico-onto-epistemological'.

The goal of the course
Upon completion of the course, the student shall be able to:

• demonstrate familiarity with the central theories and concepts within gender studies of ethics, epistemologies and capabilities.
• demonstrate knowledge about gender relations in the organization and practice of academic research.
• independently and critically reflect upon gender relations in the areas of academic knowledge production.
• use gender perspective to reflect on capabilities in their PhD researchin an interdisciplinary manner.
• demonstrate the ability to write and analyze their own PhD research’s ethical, epistemological and ontological considerations.

The first part of the course (1.11. - 21.12. 2018) 1-5 ects, provides a theoretical introduction to the research area of feminist ethics, epistemologies and capabilities gender studies. The critical elaboration of scientific knowledge and ethical considerations related to the process of acquiring scientific knowledge are at stake with the central questions presented. The course will start with a keynote lecture by Elisabeth Rink on the 9th of November at 10 o'clock, elaborating on research projects that have been conducted among Indigenous people and examining an ethical evaluation process of such research. Her lecture is entitled "Unraveling Indigenous Epistemologies and Western Science to Understand Sexual and Reproductive Health: The Use of Community Based Participatory Research Methodology". Follow this link for a brief introduction.

The second part of the course (1.5. -30.6.2019) 1-5 ects, consists of a a writing workshop, seminar and a keynote lecture by Martha Nussbaum on the 19th of June, an individual paper, which will relate on one’s own PhD study having a focus on ethics, epistemologies and ontologies. For more information follow the hyperlinks.

Teaching methods
The first part of the course is mainly on-line, which will include recorded as well as live lectures of internationally known researchers and their publications. The course will have an on-line platform for course participants' mutual communication. During the course, PhD students will work on their theoretical framework and will receive feedback from the course instructors and other participating students. Group sessions will be arranged on-line, where students will be given the opportunity to present the theoretical framework of their doctoral research and receive comments from teachers and co-participants. The second part of the course is mainly 'live', which will consist of a seminar, a writing workshop and an individual paper.

The aim of the course
The aim of the course is to provide a theoretical introduction to the research area of feminist ethics, epistemologies and capabilities in gender studies. The course will focus on how gender theories can provide new questions and offer fruitful perspectives on analyses of academic research processes, particularly the ethics, epistemologies, ontologies and capabilities, including one’s own PhD study. Furthermore, the course will explore how gender issues are an integral part of the organization and institutionalization of academic knowledge. The course is relevant for PhD students in human sciences, but it may also attract PhD studnets from other fields. The course is in English, but Finnish language may be used for the final individual course assignment.

Enroll by 7th of November by completing the registration form:

You will receive an e-mail with more detailed course instructions after registration in the beginning of the November.

Course convener
Adjunct Professor, Dr. Mervi Heikkinen , e-mail:

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Event location

University of Oulu

Event address

Pentti Kaiterankatu 1, 90014 University of Oulu

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Last updated: 10.5.2019