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Epistemological pluralism: Ethical and pedagogical challenges in higher education

Vanessa Andreotti, Cash Ahenakew, Garrick Cooper


This paper offers a brief analysis of aspects related to the significance and the complexities of introducing “different” epistemologies in higher education teaching and learning. We start by introducing the metaphors of abyssal thinking, epistemic blindness and ecologies of knowledge in the work of Boaventura de Souza Santos. In the second part of the paper we use Santos’ metaphors to engage with the tensions of translating aboriginal epistemologies into non-aboriginal languages, categories and technologies. In the third part, we offer a situated illustration of an attempt to introduce epistemological pluralism in addressing central concepts in teaching in higher education. In our conclusion we emphasize that political, ontological and metaphysical questions need to be considered very carefully in the process of introducing different epistemologies into higher education.

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