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argumentation graphic of people in discussionThe deadline to apply for the Interdisciplinary PhD in Argumentation Studies, UWindsor’s first doctoral program in the humanities, is January 15.

New doctoral program to draw on UWindsor’s strengths in argumentation

Scholars can start applying to UWindsor’s new Interdisciplinary PhD in Argumentation Studies. This is the University’s first doctoral program involving the humanities; it will enjoy connections with multiple faculties across campus as well as the Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric (CRRAR).

Argumentation studies explores the roots of how disputes can be verbally or visually negotiated, says philosophy professor Catherine Hundleby, director of the PhD program. There are various ways to analyze and evaluate disagreement and this interdisciplinary approach allows doctoral candidates to study how to persuade others to a resolution when conflict or uncertainty arises from inconsistent information in various fields.

“This provides unique and powerful training for a range of careers from human resources and conflict resolution to policy development, as well as science, visual arts and education,” says Dr. Hundleby, a CRRAR research fellow.

The centre is a leader in individual and collaborative research. Since opening in 2008, it has attracted international scholars from Japan, Germany, Spain, Poland and Portugal and hosts talks twice a month. Hundleby says this puts UWindsor in a unique position to attract both Canadian and international scholars to the PhD program.

“UWindsor has a rich history and strong international reputation in the field of reasoning and argumentation,” she says. “Between the launching of the journal Informal Logic in the early ’80s and the establishment of CRRAR around 2008, Windsor has hosted most of the biennial international conferences of the Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation, the second-largest argumentation conference in the world.”

Argumentation doctoral candidates will be able to choose from several interdisciplinary research clusters:

  • History of Argumentation Theory
  • Argument and Critical Thinking Education
  • Scientific Argumentation
  • Argumentation and Computing
  • Legal Reasoning
  • Words, Language and Cognition Argumentation
  • Visual and Multi-modal Argumentation
  • Feminism, Social Justice and Argumentation
  • Rhetoric and Disputed Spaces

“Students from computer science, history, philosophy or law will work side by side, learning about each other’s areas of expertise,” Hundleby says. “We have a unique opportunity to establish new terrain for argumentation studies because of the strength of Windsor’s reputation, which is hard to overestimate.”

School of Creative Arts acting director Lee Rodney says she had to go to England in the 1990s to pursue an interdisciplinary PhD in visual culture. This new UWindsor PhD program will offer a rare academic opportunity to study the power of visual persuasion, here in Canada.

“As we become a more image and media saturated culture, images become one of the main vectors that can convey an argument,” says Dr. Rodney. “Images are often taken as a critical document of an event; this can mobilize activists as is the case in Black Lives Matter, for example, but as legal evidence it doesn’t always hold up and I’m interested in these areas where it is not altogether clear what role the image plays.”

Hundleby says it is great this program is finally coming to fruition. For at least six years, UWindsor has been receiving requests from journalists, lawyers and academics to start an Argumentation PhD program.

“It’s exciting that graduates will be able to leave UWindsor with a particular skill set allowing them to analyze arguments in variety of ways, especially since these skills are not currently offered anywhere else in North America.”

The application deadline is January 15, 2017.

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