Course Perspectives: To help organize the ideas to be explored in the course, we have divided the course content into four broad areas, as follows.

1. Philosophical assumptions, science, & nursing

Description: This perspective concerns how sciences are aligned with various philosophical assumptions that guide the way knowledge is understood and created.

2. Knowledge development, human science, & nursing

Description: This perspective considers how knowledge has developed in the tradition known as human science, and how human science has developed in nursing. Various schools of thought (e.g., existential phenomenology, critical thinking, social ecology, and others) have informed the development of human science.

3. Practice & ethical relating in nursing

Description: This perspective invites students to consider the various ways ethical relating shows up in nursing practice with persons and groups, and as a leader, researcher, and educator. Ethical relating can be viewed as an interpersonal issue, a policy issue, a research happening, and a political reality.

4. Controversies & intersections in nursing science

Description: In our very complex world there are many different ideas and issues to consider when it comes to nursing science. Controversies reflect the reality that there are many different views and ways of thinking. Intersections help us see the points when ideas collide or come together to make sense. Both controversies and intersections are important to our evolving understanding.

Overview of Teaching-Learning Approach

Course teaching-learning activities are informed by complexity pedagogy. Complexity pedagogy proposes that all persons in a community of inquiry learn together. Teachers and students come together to engage, share, and question in order to develop personal understandings. Diverse views and different perspectives enable deep learning, and so, in many ways we are all responsible for contributing―not only to our own understanding and growth, but to that of our colleagues and classmates. There are no right and wrong answers in complexity learning. We all have different views and understandings, because our understanding is contextual, historical, and experiential. We are all coming together from a different place to spend time together in a shared quest for insights and emergent learning.

Complexity Pedagogy: Terms and Definitions

Here are some definitions of ideas (informed by the authors [5] [14] [28] [30] [34] ) that describe learners’ experiences as part of a collaborative community of inquiry.

Reflection: A process of contemplation about one’s thinking and actions in specific situations in order to better understand the pros and cons of different ways of thinking and acting.

Recursion: An iterative process of revisiting what one knows in order to see with new eyes, or looping back with the intent to discover again.

Emergent Learning: As students and teachers inter-relate, offering different views and posing different questions, new learning emerges in the shifts of understandings and perspectives. All students and teachers can create teachable moments by introducing different ways of thinking about and acting in various situations.

Perturbations: Disruptions of the status quo created by challenging assumptions, providing alternative views, and asking different questions that expand understandings. Perturbations may point out paradox, ambiguity, and critical aspects of familiar ways of knowing.

Diversity: Difference is needed for deep thinking and critical understanding. Seeing only one way misses the complexities of life and learning. When diverse views are shared, new insights often surface and propel thinking and problem-solving in new ways as difference is considered and conversed about.

Non-linearity: Life, living systems, thinking, and responding are all evolving historically, experientially, reflectively, and non-reflectively, in stops and starts, transformative leaps, and sometimes with unexplainable emergence. Change in living systems and processes cannot be controlled in simple formulas or directives. Living systems are continuously evolving in unpredictable ways.

Relationality: This concept indicates the ways people, things, ideas, preferences, and patterns connect and interrelate. An idea can link with many different experiences, an event might link with many memories, and a concept can connect with particular ideas across multiple contexts in a web of relationality.