Promoting Philosophical Literacy in Pedagogy and Public Health

Submitting Institution

Manchester Metropolitan University

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy, Specialist Studies In Education

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Summary of the impact

The impacts of Hutchinson's and Crome's separate, yet closely interlinked bodies of research emerge from their shared commitment to the value of philosophical literacy. They have both argued that professional practice across the domains of Education and Public Health is subject to the effects of cognitive and conceptual frames, which Philosophy can help to identify, appraise and improve. Crome follows this strategic path in his work on pedagogy, which seeks to highlight the theoretical assumptions that support key elements of current teaching and learning policy. Hutchinson is pursuing a collaborative partnership with Public Health professionals concerning the correlation of shame, stigma and sexually transmitted infection (STI), for which Hutchinson's work on shame provides part of the conceptual and methodological rationale. The end users and beneficiaries of their shared promotion of philosophical literacy are professionals and patients in the healthcare sector and teachers and their students in education.

Underpinning research

Crome has worked at MMU since 2001 and is currently Senior Lecturer in Philosophy in the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy. The research generating Crome's impact dates back to two MMU-funded studies (`Text-Based Teaching and Learning in Philosophy', 2002; `Improving Student Progression and Retention', 2003) and three HEA-funded studies (totalling £11,000; see Section 3) examining principles of `autonomous learning'. Crome's research seeks to identify the conceptual frameworks and background assumptions that inform prescriptive guidelines on how successful teaching should be undertaken, and shape both public and professional discourse on pedagogical policy. Taking the widely deplored deficit of reading skills in university entrants as his point of departure whilst proposing that a set of such skills cannot be inculcated in students as a fixed package, Crome's enquiry into `text-based' philosophy teaching identified the method of `autonomous learning' as a pedagogically more effective way to impart the subject-specific and generic skills required by students to succeed in the study of Philosophy at university level [1]. On the basis of this research, Crome was then invited by the HEA Philosophy and Religious Studies Learning and Teaching Support Network (HEA PRS-LTSN: to collaborate on a project aimed at enhancing academic achievement among Philosophy students, which led to a jointly authored article evaluating the success of the project for the benefit of Philosophy lecturers [2]. Building on this early research, in 2009 Crome embarked on a new project designed to further elaborate on the idea of `autonomous learning'. Crome argued that the current `learning aims and objectives' approach to pedagogy has limitations and that these derive from widely unacknowledged framing assumptions. By observing and analysing actual teaching practice in the classroom, Crome came to articulate an alternative `event-focussed' way of conceptualising effective pedagogy, which frames teaching and learning as an ad hominem and dialogic process, that is, as a genuine interpersonal encounter between student and tutor [3].

Whereas Crome's work promotes philosophical literacy in pedagogical practice through proposing a reframing of current teaching and learning strategies, Hutchinson pursues a cognate agenda by applying his work on shame to an enquiry into the role and impact of emotion on current modi operandi in public health provision. Hutchinson joined MMU in 2004 and is currently Senior Lecturer in Philosophy in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at MMU Cheshire. In his monograph Shame and Philosophy [4], published in 2008, Hutchinson argues that 1) shame is an emotion of central importance to moral psychology but which has been relatively neglected in modern and contemporary philosophy, and that 2) understanding expressions of shame requires an understanding of the extent to which shame is a rational response to the conceptually-mediated life-world and operates at the level of conceptual frames (as opposed to propositional attitudes). Hutchinson's work proposes a new framework for understanding expressions of shame. Themes central to the argument in the book have undergone further elaboration in two subsequent articles:

"Facing Atrocity: Shame and Its Absence" [5], which argues for a revaluation of the importance of shame in debates on moral perception and moral motivation, and "Emotion-Philosophy-Science" [6], which delivers a reinforcement of the monograph's argument for understanding shame as a rational reaction (rather than `causal' response) to the conceptually-mediated life-world.

References to the research

Research Outputs:

[1] K. Crome and M. Garfield (2004) `Text-based Teaching and Learning'; Discourse: Learning and Teaching in Philosophical and Religious Studies, Spring 2004, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 114-30 (co-written with Mike Garfield). Available on-line at:

[2] K. Crome, R. Elleray, N. Hems and J. Hunt (2008) `Evaluating the Impact of Teaching Methods Designed to Enhance Academic Achievement among Philosophy Students with Diverse Learning Needs' in Discourse: Learning and Teaching in Philosophical and Religious Studies, Spring 2008, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 157-85;
Supported by Philosophy and Religious Studies Learning and Teaching Support Network grant (2008): Independent Learning for Philosophy Students (£4,942)

[3] K. Crome, R. Farrar and P. O'Connor (2009) `What is Autonomous Learning?' in Discourse: Learning and Teaching in Philosophical and Religious Studies, Winter 2009, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 111-26;
Supported by Philosophy and Religious Studies Learning and Teaching Support Network grant (2006): Evaluating the Impact of Teaching Methods Designed to Enhance Academic Achievement among Philosophy Students with Diverse Learning Needs (£3,000)

[4] Hutchinson Phil (2008) Shame and Philosophy: An Investigation in the Philosophy of Emotions and Ethics (London: Palgrave MacMillan) ISBN: 9780230542716.
Reviews in Philosophical Investigations (2008), Metapsychology Online (2008), Res Publica (extended review essay, 2010). Currently being translated into Russian.

[5]'Hutchinson, Phil (2011) "Facing Atrocity: Shame and its Absence" in Emotions and Atrocity a special edition of the journal Passions in Context: Journal of the History and Philosophy of Emotions. II (1/2011) pp. 93-117.
Currently being translated into Russian (for publication in New Literary Observer:

[6] Hutchinson, Phil (2009) "Emotion-Philosophy-Science" in Emotions and Understanding. Edited by Kronkvist, C.; Gustafsson, Y.; & McEachrane, M. Basingstoke: Palgrave pp.60-81

Additional grants awarded on the basis of [1]-[6]:

For research: 2011 Philosophy and Religious Studies Learning and Teaching Support Network grant: A Hand-e-Book of Practices for Philosophy Tutors (£2,992)

For conference organisation: 2012 The British Society for the Philosophy of Science for the series of three one-day workshops on Evidence-Based Practice (See Section 4)

Details of the impact

Crome's and Hutchinson's bodies of work are united in their promotion of philosophical literacy as a method of facilitating professionals' own identification, rational appraisal and practical adjustment of the conceptual frames operative in the areas of pedagogy (Crome) and public health (Hutchinson). A philosophically-literate awareness of the role played by conceptual frames enables professionals to identify the theoretical assumptions that frame policy and practice in their spheres of work, and to include alternative ways of thinking into their approach to tackling practical problems as they arise.

Through his early research on pedagogy Crome made contact with lecturers and Special Educational Needs advisors working in the Higher Education sector, and collaborated with them on the HEA PRS-LTSN supported project on enhancing academic achievement among Philosophy students. Following on from this, in 2009 Crome was invited to collaborate in the development of a web area hosted by the University of Leeds to provide a platform of resources for final-year undergraduate dissertation students, advising on how best to research and write a dissertation in Philosophy. His presentation on teaching techniques and technologies, delivered at a HEA-sponsored colloquium at MMU in 2008, has been published on the British Philosophical Association website [A] as a key reference point in the field. In 2010 his co-authored article, `What is Autonomous Learning?', published on the HEA PRS-LTSN web-site, "was the second most popular page" after the HEA PRS-LTSN home-page itself, "with 2,773 page views" [B]. The PRS-LTSN Centre Manager has stated that the work Crome did with and published through the PRS-LTSN subject centre, `informed and influenced the pedagogic thinking and practice of others' [C], and it has been described as having `influenced curriculum developments ... in philosophy departments across UK higher education' and as being `one of the most influential bodies of work in philosophy teaching and learning in the UK in recent years' [B]. That work led to Crome being invited in 2011 to collaborate as a consultant and contributor on the Philosophy and Pedagogy Channel: Best Practice in Teaching Philosophy project, a video forum of ideas of best practice in the learning and teaching of philosophy [D]. He was also invited to contribute to a panel addressing a large gathering of teachers and educationalists at the 14th International Writing Development in Higher Education Conference at Liverpool Hope University in July 2012. Currently Crome is preparing a collaborative bid with philosophers at Nottingham Trent University to the HEA in 2014.The bid builds on his research concerning event-based pedagogic practices. The aim is to establish a web-based resource for teachers in Higher Education that will constitute a reservoir of reflections on classroom encounters. It will set out a series of practices, activities and engagements appropriate to each stage of an undergraduate Philosophy programme.

Since 2011 Hutchinson has delivered public talks in Zurich, Moscow and London problematising the currently prevalent understanding of the relationship between science and philosophy, and in doing so has connected the declarations of the death of philosophy by prominent science writers such as Stephen Hawking, Peter Atkins and David Colquhoun with current trends in public policy. His recently-established blog, which explores these and related issues in a manner accessible to non-academics, is currently averaging 1000 views per calendar month (

Supported by MMU's new research strategy (see REF 3a), which makes the involvement of non-academic stakeholders and research `end-users' an integral element of all research activity, Crome and Hutchinson have opened up collaborative partnership links with professionals in the spheres of health-care, social work and Higher Education. Hutchinson organised a series of three one-day workshops on Evidence-Based Practice ( in November 2012. These workshops brought together philosophers with academics from a variety of disciplines as well as practitioners representing the professions of teaching, healthcare and social work, professions in which the Evidence-Based Practice movement has been influential in shaping policy, as demonstrated by Loughlin's work (see Case Study 1). These discussions with healthcare practitioners have led Hutchinson, in alignment with EPG's impact strategy outlined in REF3a, to initiate a new project exploring with NHS and other third-sector partners how shame adversely impacts on combating and treating HIV and STIs. This project now has three non-academic partners: the National Aids Trust [E], the Sexual Health Team at the Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) Clinic at Leighton Hospital, Mid Cheshire [F] and the Sexual Health Team at the Hathersage Centre (GUM Clinic) at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI). The project is formally endorsed and supported by Public Health England [G] and North West NHS Sexual Health Group. In close collaboration with his healthcare, government-agency and other third-sector partners Hutchinson has identified four ways in which shame negatively impacts on attempts to combat and treat HIV, which are: 1. Shame prevents individuals presenting for STI testing. 2. Shame prevents individuals from disclosing all the relevant facts about their sexual history to the physician. 3. Shame can prevent an individual from disclosing their HIV (or STI) status to new sexual partners. 4. Shame can psychologically imprison people, making the task of living with HIV a much worse experience than it needs to be. The project sets out to allay and, if possible, erase these factors and thus make a significant contribution to better public health.

Sources to corroborate the impact

[A] Crome, `Philosophy Teaching Techniques and Technologies: Some Concerns and Queries' corroborates impacts on the teaching and learning of philosophy.

[B] Testimonial available on file from Assistant Director (Educational Development), Centre for Learning and Academic Development, University of Birmingham corroborating impacts of "Autonomous Learning" on Philosophy pedagogy.

[C] Testimonial available on file from former PRS-LTSN Centre Manager and current Independent Higher Education and Management Consultant corroborating impacts on the teaching of philosophy beyond MMU.

[D] Evidence of impact through Philosophy and Pedagogy Channel: Best Practice in Teaching Philosophy

[E] Testimonial available on file from Director of Policy and Campaigns at The National AIDS Trust, corroborating impacts of research on attitudes towards shame and HIV.

[F] Testimonial available on file from senior consultant on the Sexual Health team at the Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) Clinic at Leighton Hospital

[G] Head of HIV Surveillance at Public Health England (PHE, formally the Health Protection Agency (HPA).