Original Research

Bruno Latour and the myth of autonomous academic discipline: Rethinking education in the light of various modes of existence

Colby Dickinson
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 4 | a75 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v4i0.75 | © 2019 Colby Dickinson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 August 2019 | Published: 11 December 2019

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Colby Dickinson, Department of Theology, Loyola University, Chicago, IL, United States

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Background: Issues of identity, interdependence, relationality and violence are far larger than the human species alone, although humanity has often pretended as if it alone were the beneficiaries of studying such ideas.

Aim: Pedagogically, the complexity of existence beyond human being must influence the traditional humanities curriculum or risk further isolation and alienation within humanity-dominant narratives.

Setting: As climate change continues to alter our comprehension of what is truly at stake in the survival of life on this planet, however, humankind needs a complete rethinking of its relationship with the multiple forms of life that dwell alongside it, as well as the traditional division between the humanities and the sciences within academic settings.

Methods: It is with this scenario before us that I turn to the work of Bruno Latour who re-conceives of humanity’s relationship with nature as an interdisciplinary and boundary-crossing project, one that has deep pedagogical implications.

Results: I demonstrate how Latour’s collaborative and highly original work ranges across disciplines and provides new ways to contemplate research in academia.

Conclusion: Latour’s thought moves beyond polarising anti-humanist language and towards a way to limit the sovereign claims of humanity, opening discourse towards other non-human participants.


Bruno Latour; complexity; modes of existence; interdisciplinary; non-human participants


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