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Webinar on “Significance of Critical Inquiry in Social Sciences”

The B.A. Department organised this Webinar on 15th September 2021 from 11:10 am-12:10 pm The session began with Ms. Silima D’abreo, faculty of Arts Department welcoming the participants and introducing the resource person. The resource person, Dr. Ravi Shankar Mishra, the faculty of Sociology in Arts Department conducted the webinar using the online platform Google Meet.

Dr. Ravi Shankar Mishra started by giving an introduction to the structure of his presentation, where he divided the Presentation into four broad topics:
1. What do we mean my “Critical Inquiry”/ “Critical Thinking”?
2. Origin and History of Critical Thinking/ Critical Perspective in Social Sciences
3. Frankfurt School and Critical Inquiry
4. Application of Critical Inquiry
5. Conclusion

In the first topic, the speaker explained the literal meaning of critical inquiry/critical thinking and explained the various associated terms, such as criticism, critique and critic. He also delineated here the characteristics of critical thinking.

The speaker then proceeded to the origin and historical development of the critical perspective in social sciences. He traced the development of this perspective from the prominent first-generation critical thinkers in social sciences, such as Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, a second-generation thinker-Jurgen Habermas to the third-generation theorists, such as Klaus Offe, Jose Fruchtl, Klaus Gunther, Alex Honneth etc.. He discussed briefly the main currents of their thoughts. Then he discussed the contributions of the Frankfurt School in developing the critical thinking/critical inquiry and what “critical thinking” meant for them. He concluded that sociologists using the critical orientation seek to change not just society but also the character of research itself. Researchers and subjects use their findings to provide a voice for less powerful people and to advance the political goal of a more equal society.

In the next part, the speaker demonstrated the students the use/applicability of the critical thinking/critical thinking by taking examples from the sociological phenomena that sociologist analyse, such as industrialization, modernization, globalization ethnocentrism etc. In this regard, he discussed the phenomenon of industrialization and analysed its constructive or positive aspects as well as the negative aspects. This gave the students a hands-on experience to further use this tool to analyze any other social phenomena for their future academic engagements.

In the conclusion, he summarized some of the important features of critical thinking. Critical thinking thus asks questions about any phenomena or events that are clear and easily understood. It helps in listening to others’ views and opinions. It distinguishes between fact and opinion. It weighs all evidences, distinguishes relevant from irrelevant information. It draws inferences and logical conclusions based on evidences. It organizes and classifies ideas and evidence. It identifies underlying assumptions, distinguishes hypotheses from evidence. Above all, it recognizes a variety of political, social, cultural, and personal perspectives
After the session, Dr. Ravi Shankar Mishra, himself invited the students for a brief session of questions form the participants. The questions were answered to the questioners’ satisfaction. The event was attended by 20 participants. The event received positive feedback from the participants.

After the question-answer session, the webinar concluded with a vote of thanks by Ms. Silima D’abreo to the resource person, principal sir, technical team and the participants

Aldel Education Trust (AET)
St. John College of Engineering and Management (SJCEM)
St. John Institute of Pharmacy and Research (SJIPR)
St. John Junior College (SJJC)
St. John International School (SJIS)

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