Philosophy in the (Gender and the Law) Classroom

  • Associate Professor Stella Tarrant The University of Western Australia
  • Dr. Laura D'Olimpio The University of Notre Dame Australia


To engage not only with what one thinks but also how one thinks, is to think philosophically. A student’s capacity to think philosophically strengthens their ability to learn and the depth of her or his understanding. This praxis research project was aimed at developing students’ capacities to ‘think philosophically’. The Community of Inquiry is a pedagogy developed by Matthew Lipman in the discipline of Philosophy that facilitates collaborative and democratic philosophical thinking in the context of teaching philosophy in schools. We introduced a Community of Inquiry module into teaching at tertiary (post secondary) level in the context of gender and the law studies. This field of study was an appropriate context in which to introduce the Community of Inquiry because ‘philosophical thinking’ is required to understand gender relations and their impact on laws. Here we provide a practitioner reflection on an exploratory approach to teaching in a tertiary setting, with a view to setting an agenda for more systematic research into the incorporation of philosophical method into substantive fields of tertiary study.