Pedagogy of Vulnerability

Edited by:
Edward J. Brantmeier, James Madison University
Maria K. McKenna, University of Notre Dame

Published 2020

The purpose of this text is to elicit discussion, reflection, and action specific to pedagogy within education, especially higher education, and circles of experiential learning, community organizing, conflict resolution and youth empowerment work. Vulnerability itself is not a new term within education; however the pedagogical imperatives of vulnerability are both undertheorized in educational discourse and underexplored in practice. This work builds on that of Edward Brantmeier in Re-Envisioning Higher Education: Embodied Pathways to Wisdom and Transformation (Lin, Oxford, & Brantmeier, 2013). In his chapter, “Pedagogy of vulnerability: Definitions, assumptions, and application,” he outlines a set of assumptions about the term, clarifying for his readers the complicated, risky, reciprocal, and purposeful nature of vulnerability, particularly within educational settings.

Creating spaces of risk taking, and consistent mutual, critical engagement are challenging at a moment in history where neoliberal forces impact so many realms of formal teaching and learning. Within this context, the divide between what educators, be they in a classroom or a community, imagine as possible and their ability to implement these kinds of pedagogical possibilities is an urgent conundrum worth exploring. We must consider how to address these disconnects; advocating and envisioning a more holistic, healthy, forward thinking model of teaching and learning. How do we create cultures of engaged inquiry, framed in vulnerability, where educators and students are compelled to ask questions just beyond their grasp? How can we all be better equipped to ask and answer big, beautiful, bold, even uncomfortable questions that fuel the heart of inquiry and perhaps, just maybe, lead to a more peaceful and just world?

A collection of reflections, case studies, and research focused on the pedagogy of vulnerability is a starting point for this work. The book itself is meant to be an example of pedagogical vulnerability, wherein the authors work to explicate the most intimate and delicate aspects of the varied pedagogical journeys, understandings rooted in vulnerability, and those of their students, colleagues, clients, even adversaries. It is a work that “holds space.”

Foreword. Preface. Acknowledgments. Pedagogy of Vulnerability: Roots, Realities, and the Future, Maria K. McKenna and Edward J. Brantmeier. PART I: VULNERABILITY ACROSS DISCIPLINES. Barefoot Hope for Peace: Vulnerability in Peace Education, Hilary Cremin and Kevin Kester. Changing ... One Synapse at a Time, Nancy Michael. Inviting Vulnerability into the Religious Studies Classroom, Emily O. Gravett. The Self-Disclosure Tightrope Walk in Teaching and Teacher Education: Selective and Purposeful, Not Random, Matthew J. Moulton and Susan Y. Leonard. Vulnerability in Performance: Daring To Be Ourselves, Siiri Scott. PART II: VULNERABILITY AND IDENTITY. A Crack in Everything: Facilitation and Vulnerability, Norbert Koppensteiner. Ever Vulnerable: Intersectional Aspects of Black Feminist Thought and the Pedagogy of Vulnerability, Jacquetta Page. Brown Vulnerability and (In)Visibility in Predominantly White Institutions, Carlos G. Alemán. Pulling In and Out of My Daily Work: The Friction of Pedagogies of Vulnerability in a UK University Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Staff Development Programme (The Sheffield SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum), Rachel van Duyvenbode. Making It Personal and Learning con el Corazo n: Pedagogy of Vulnerability Within Mentor–Mentee Relationships, Lorena Mancilla. Becoming Vulnerable in the Era of Climate Change: Questions and Dilemmas for a Pedagogy of Vulnerability, Ute Kelly and Rhys Kelly. PART III: VULNERABILITY AND PLACE. Becoming Vulnerable With the Vulnerable: A Pedagogy of Hope for Incarcerated Students of the Liberal Arts, A. D. Seroczynski. A Personal Narrative of Courage and Vulnerability in Research: Peace Learning and Collaborative Art With Youth, Allison Paul. Unpacking the Pedagogy of Vulnerability in Three Contexts: Lecture, Intergroup Dialogue, and Study Abroad, Matthew R. Lee. Being Vulnerable in the Classroom: Presence, Power, and Pushback in Peace Education, Phill Gittins. About the Editors. List of Contributors.