GPHY 836: Critical Methods of Inquiry | The Politics of Knowledge Production

GPHY836: Critical Methods of Inquiry | The Politics of Knowledge Production


Through readings, dialogue, and practice, this course ponders how qualitative, participatory, and Indigenous modes of inquiry open up possibilities for research by confronting the socio-politico-historical power relations of knowledge production, studying the how and why of every-day lived experiences and the structures that shape/are shaped by them.

While there is no prerequisite, the instructor assumes that graduate students taking this course will already have had an introduction to qualitative research methods during their undergraduate training or applied professional experience and have some degree of theoretical social science literacy in this line of inquiry.

The course is designed to further develop these skills in terms of the nature and scope of qualitative, participatory, and Indigenous in the social and health sciences challenge traditional (conventional, positivist) knowledge production with respect to creative, innovative, and de-colonizing modes of data collection and analyses, giving graduate students a range of theoretical and practical foundations to build on.


Successful graduate students will be able to explore, understand, compare, and apply a myriad of qualitative research methods for data collection and analysis that are available to social and health scientists.


  1. Explore a range of qualitative, participatory, and Indigenous modes of understanding phenomenon;
  2. Practice a wide range of qualitative, participatory, and Indigenous data collection techniques;
  3. Advance theoretical literacy and methodological competency in the craft of qualitative inquiry;
  4. Identify issues (challenges and benefits) with thinking quantitatively in these lines of inquiry;
  5. Consider power dynamics, relationality, temporality, and knowledge/space/place/time concerning the ethical process of research involving human participants;
  6. Interrogate personal positionality in research and explore researcher reflexivity;
  7. Analyze and evaluate quality/rigour in qualitative, participatory, and Indigenous analyses; and
  8. Identify and explain findings from data in these lines of inquiry by writing qualitatively.


This is a graduate-level seminar and, from a pedagogical perspective, one that has been committed to offering students as much experiential learning opportunities as possible. However, as the class size grows, this becomes more challenging! Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out together. ☺ You can expect weekly discussions on the ‘why’ of critical methods of inquiry based on assigned readings being the focus of about half of our time together, while the remainder of our time together will involve active engagement in the ‘how to’ of critical inquiry’s myriad ways of data collection and analysis activities. During the course and given the nature of critical inquiry, please note that I may ask you to speak about your personal experiences (e.g., home life, social life, student life, etc.). When this happens, students must decide to what extent they feel comfortable with sharing. Respect for each other and confidentiality regarding classroom activities is critical. Student safety and comfort are my primary concern.