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Environmental and Architectural Phenomenology

Ingrid Leman Stefanovic
Associate Professor, Associate Chair
Department of Philosophy
University of Toronto. Canada.

My principal interest in the After Postmodernism Conference stems from my work in environmental and architectural phenomenology.

The courses that I teach at UofT explore the possibility that phenomenology is more than a mere historical period superseded by postmodernism, but that instead, a rethinking of phenomenology can take us in new and valuable directions "after postmodernism" as well. Texts that my students have explored and that advance this claim include Werner Marx's Toward a Phenomenological Ethics, Thomas Langan's Being and Truth, Robert Mugerauer's Interpretations on Behalf of Place and Bruce Foltz's Inhabiting the Earth: Heidegger, Environmental Ethics and the Metaphysics of Nature.

Three areas of research indicate ways in which I am exploring the contribution of phenomenology beyond postmodernism, in the field of environmental philosophy:

1. Rethinking Sustainability: The Contribution of Environmental Phenomenology

A book in progress bears this title. Beyond a critical examination of the underlying positivism of current paradigms of sustainable development, the book explores the possibilities suggested by Heidegger's originative mode of thinking for alternate visions of sustainability. Methodological guidelines for evolving new paradigms for environmental "indicators" are suggested. The volume will be completed early in 1998.

2. Implicit Assumptions of Interdisciplinarity in Environmental Research

A few years ago, I was involved in a three-year, interdisciplinary research study of the Hamilton Harbour Ecosystem, where over 30 researchers collaborated in investigating sustainability of a highly polluted area of Lake Ontario. My mandate was to provide an integrative framework for the study, in order to facilitate collaboration and communication among researchers. A phenomenological approach drove the interview process as well as the evolution of a four-dimensional, interdisciplinary, computerized matrix of activities on the project.

3. Phenomenology and Environmental Codes of Ethics

A phenomenological approach to deconstruction of implicit normative assumptions was behind the evolution of guidelines of conduct for visitors to a Southern Ontario park system. Similar research is underway, investigating values and expectations relating to the development of the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail--a 325-kilometer system of greenways linking Hamilton to Trenton.

I look forward to discussing these projects and the work of others at the "After Postmodernism" Conference in Chicago.


[After Post-Modernism Conference. Copyright 1997.]