National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Spring 2005


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 6:1, Spring/Summer 2005. Copyright © 2005 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


Years ago, when I was beginning to develop field-based learning methods and experimenting with City as Text© as an integrative seminar, I learned a lot from the insights of Parker Palmer. His presentation at AAHE, a talk he called “Community, Conflict and Ways of Knowing” (published later, in l988, in CHANGE Magazine) was a catalyst for those of us in NCHC who were refining the structure of “explorations,” linking them to extended seminar discussions and applying them to research projects, especially in Honors Semesters. Two passages in particular resonate with Joan Digby’s article on students today and remind me just why Palmer’s thoughts were so startlingly on target:

I do not believe that epistemology is a bloodless abstraction; the WAY we know has powerful implications for the WAY we live. I argue that every epistemology tends to become an ethic, and that every way of knowing tends to become a way of living. I argue that the relation established between the knower and the known, between the student and the subject, tends to become the relation of the living person to the world itself. I argue that every mode of knowing contains its own moral trajectory, its own ethical direction and outcome.