ENV 551a () / 2023-2024

Qualitative Inquiry for the Human Sciences

Credits: 3
Fall 2023: Tu,Th, 10:30-11:50, Kroon 321

Qualitative research is a robust and reliable means of knowledge production and is central to exploring questions of the human condition. As an approach to understanding the human-nature nexus, qualitative research prioritizes multiple ways of knowing the world (epistemology), engages with philosophical concerns about how can we know what is “truth” (ontology), and ultimately seeks to design better futures (a normative endeavor based in values or axiology). The tools we will explore include 1) oral methods (interviews, life histories, focus groups), 2) text-based methods (archival research and document or textual analysis), and 3) participatory methods based on observation and knowledge co-production. Students will learn how to interpret and analyze qualitative data, as well as evaluate the claims made by qualitative researchers. The course is intended for doctoral students who are in the beginning stage of their dissertation research, as well as for MESc students developing research proposals for their thesis projects. Advanced undergraduate students are welcome.  The final project for this course is a research proposal and annotated bibliography. *While we discuss the value of mixed methods, this course DOES NOT cover quantitative approaches such as survey research, econometrics, Q methodology, spatial analysis or social network analysis.