The Embodied Profession(al):
The Body in Professional Practice, Learning and Education
December 5, 2010
An interdisciplinary symposium on The Body in Professional Practice was convened by Professor Bill Green at Charles Sturt University in Australia on December 5, 2010. The event was sponsored by RIPPLE, INSPiRE, and the Potter Foundation. The Wagga Wagga Conference Centre at Charles Sturt University proved to be an ideal venue for the event. Approximately, twenty participants including professors and doctoral students from the University of Western Ontario, Charles Sturt University and University of Technology Sydney took part in the day.
The day began with a plenary address delivered by Professor Green in which he mapped out current thinking in the field, highlighted central conceptual concerns, and illuminated the place of the body in terms of professional practice and the professions.
The symposium was organized around a number of evocative questions posed by Professor Bill Green and forwarded to participants in advance. With respect to the body in professional practice he asked:
“Does the body matter? What can be said about the role and the significance of the body in researching and understanding professional practice, learning and education? That is, how to think about the body, about embodiment, or corporeality, in our work on professional practice, and in professional learning and professional education more generally? What value would there be in better realising and articulating the notion of the professional practitioner as first and foremost embodied, as well as of the profession itself as being a corporate body, as well as (re-)thinking the relation between the two?”
Participants presented papers in response to these questions, and engaged in what promised to be an extraordinary day of exchanging ideas and stimulating and at times provocative dialogue. Participants presenting papers from the University of Western Ontario included professors Kathy Hibbert (Faculty of Education & Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, UWO) and Allan Pitman (Faculty of Education, UWO), and doctoral students Farrukh Chishtie (Education), Jodi Hall (Health Professional Education), Shanon Phelan (Occupational Science), Marie-Eve Caty (Health Professional Education), Xiaoxiao Du (Education).
In addition, Associate Professor Elizabeth Anne Kinsella (UWO) delivered a plenary address entitled Embodied Reflection, Embodied Knowledges: Possibilities and Problematics in Professional Practice. Dr. Kinsella stated that this was one of the most intellectually stimulating days she’s experienced, and that the possibilities opened up for future work and interdisciplinary and international collaboration are exciting.
The day concluded with an interactive plenary panel session comprised of Professors Alison Lee (UTS), Nick Hopwood (UTS), Elizabeth Anne Kinsella, and Bill Green in which the “invisibility” of the body in the discourses of professional practice were identified as problematic, and the timeliness of the topic was underlined. Discussions are currently underway concerning continued scholarly conversations and the development of a proposal for a future book on The Body in Professional Practice to be edited by Professor Bill Green. Participants continued the dialogue over an evening Barbeque. If the buzz in the room at this event was any indication of the excitement the symposium generated, an engaging book is on the horizon!
L to R: Professors Kathy Hibbert (UWO), Bill Green (UWO), Elizabeth Anne Kinsella (UWO) and Allan Pitman (UWO) at The Embodied Profession(al) Symposium