Samuel Rocha Perkerwicz

Associate Professor

Research Interests

Philosophical Traditions in Education
philosophy of education

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Research Methodology



Master's students
Postdoctoral Fellows

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These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a potential thesis supervisor.

Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


Because he truly is a teacher. 

Rabia Mir (2019)


Dr. Rocha directs students towards their drives and passions.

Joyce Penner (2019)


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

A humanities-based pedagogy of death : apocalyptic prose as public reimbursement collapse competency (2023)

The purpose of this humanities-based inquiry is to explore how poetic prose within apocalyptic fiction opens to realities of mourning and relationality, each a component in the ways in which imagined systems in collapse are nurtured in the process of dying. I conceive of mourning to mean a recognition of real loss and a response that is softened to the realities of grief without being paralyzed by its depth. I conceive of relationality as the experienced impacts of relation with more-than-human kin and ancestors and the as-yet-born, as these relations provide comprehensive understandings of entangled ways of being, including death.The systems in collapse are located in public reimbursement, the systems that provide or prohibit drug and device accessibility within Canada. From the lens of the reimbursement realities of Type 1 diabetes, I identify these systems as being removed from the needs of patients, a series of actions that consistently fail to be responsive to the realities of persons with disease. These systems underscore the ways the exclusion of the oppressed (patients) from the decision-making of the oppressors (the producers and the distributors of health technologies) necessitates the current or future death of the system. Using select works of Paulo Freire and Boaventura de Sousa Santos, this systems death is explored through the lens of abyssal thinking. Since I have now identified the perceived collapse, in this work I attempt to destabilize conventional models of repair-through-progress by advantaging the process of hospice. Here, hospicing does not refer to conventional hospice programs, but instead draws from an unconventional source to explore ways in which a pedagogy of death can be applied across or within broad systems death: the poetry of apocalyptic fiction within Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Two thematic elements, mourning and relationality, are applied as a poetic lens through which to invigorate imaginaries on the constituent parts of death, the macabre-ness of the reanimated corpse or the repulsion of fetid flesh. These elements urge a leaning-in to death, to become familiar with death, in order to speak to collapse and support the eventual demise of the modern system.

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Art, education, Arendt : political and aesthetic gestures of amor mundi (2022)

This dissertation engages with the work of Hannah Arendt as the backbone of this study to question what it means to act for the love of the world at the intersections of art, aesthetics, education, philosophy, and politics. I delve into some of the contentious aspects of her political theory and philosophy as entry points to probe into what it means to respond to world events aesthetically and educationally.This dissertation consists of two parts. In Part I, I explicate why it matters to think with Arendt, one of the most idiosyncratic thinkers of the 20th century. To do so, I first discuss three of what I call Arendt’s un/identified methods: existing in excess as a work of art, engaging in the activity of thinking, and critiquing and prying lose the rich and the strange as a pearl diver. I follow this account with my re-interpretation of her assertion that education is pre-political and must be conservative, as education is that which occurs between Arendt’s notion of the first miracle and the second miracle. Part II transitions into the public, political realm. I begin by placing a spotlight on some of the artworks from the Sichuan earthquake project led by Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei. I then examine contentious aspects of what is considered a suitable political art from the multiple perspectives of political theorists, political philosophers, art critics, and art theorists. To further think critically about Arendt’s notion of political action, I consider her critics’ views on the inadequacy of her thoughts for today’s political sphere and use their criticisms to lay out some of the most fundamental aspects of her work. I contend that Arendt’s scholarly endeavor was neither to incite a new revolution nor to suggest a blueprint of any kind via aestheticizing action. I conclude the study with what Arendt meant by amor mundi (love of the world), or to be concerned for the world, and what we might learn from it.

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Reframing leadership in a liquid age (2020)

Among the many shifting beliefs and practices characteristic of an age of liquid modernity, there is no common standard of what leadership is, who gets to be a leader and how they are prepared for the role. Countless books, seminars and academic programmes offer solutions that meet the needs of leaders and groups in ways particular to their organizational culture and preferences. This dissertation uses examples of leaders in the church, organizations informed by historic Christian values, educational institutions, and parts of the business world. It suggests that leaders have inherited and borrowed ways of operating without questioning the account of how they came to be. Many models are no longer effective in the liquid age, as they produce one-dimensional solutions to complex issues, leading to dualistic thinking and an inability to live with contradiction. The dissertation suggests reframing the culture of leadership in the fluidity of this age so that it is not reducible to a static concept, but always constructing as it responds to its liquid context. To animate this, a curriculum centred on the deliberate awareness of self promotes six qualities that respond to the problem of leadership culture needing refashioning: It embraces inquiry, conversion, embodiment and mystery, contradiction and education as builds on a journey of learning. The methods of investigation are conceptual reflection and characterization, and by personifying the six aspects of leadership culture, the personalities portray the claims to reframe leadership as new way of being in a shifting age. In this way, the reader experiences the conceptual reflection by engaging in the discourse with the author. The general conclusion of the paper is that the process of reframing the culture of leadership is not an end that establishes new theories of leadership practice, but instead, a journey of interaction with oneself as a leader and those one leads and follows. While a number of bridges make this journey meaningful, education provides a navigational aid that helps steer the shifting beliefs and practices which leadership meets in these fluid times.

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Bildung, psychoanalysis, and the formation of subjectivity in educational experience (2018)

In a time when the very thought of education is pervaded by the language and practices of standardization and efficiency, our subjectivity–the inner space of human experience that makes up who we are as singular beings–gets lost. As such, the very existence of the subject and its possibilities of reconstruction are at stake. Working from a reconceptualized field of curriculum, this study takes up the question of formation and asks in what ways subjectivity might get constituted through educational experience. The German notion of Bildung–which posits education as a process of formation or “becoming oneself”–offers crucial insights to the rethinking of educational experience today, in the effort to reclaim subjectivity, along with its sense of existential significance. Studying the process from a psychoanalytic perspective, I wish to shift the discussion of educational experience from psychological, behavioral, and other pragmatic connotations, and return it to a speculative philosophical investigation of what it means to become who we are, and what that entails in terms of desire and the unconscious. Exploring the phenomenon of subjective formation in relation to aspects such as philosophical anthropology, psychic dynamics, technology, and Eros, I come to conclude that an education that is inattentive to the inner life of the subject cannot be properly called education. The free associations I establish between curricular and psychoanalytic theory leads me to a basic and yet fundamental understanding of the process of becoming: the idea that subjectivity gets reconstructed in educational experience through an ongoing dialectic of struggle and reconciliation. While this dialectic exposes the drama of the split condition of the subject, with its failures and frustrations, it also offers the promise of the possibility of subjective reconstruction and change. It is an invitation to take risks, to learn to let go, and to imagine what might be.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Dissent and dislocation: essays on crisis (2021)

This thesis presents essays on the concept crisis within educational contexts or contexts of self-formation. The context of the personal quest for formation provides different settings within which historical, psychic, and theological senses of the concept crisis can be seen as interrelated themes in journey literatures. In the first essay, I examine concepts of crisis and understand them as providing contexts for historical change of the world itself. In the second essay, I describe movements for change through dissent or civil disobedience, drawing from the moral crisis of ‘white complacency’ that the sermons and writing of Martin Luther King Jr. respond to. That particular portrayal of crisis, set within the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, reveals an opening for alternative forms of schooling to be reconsidered as their own movements. This is a revisioning of free-schooling as movement and ideology, after the death of compulsory schooling. Quite differently, personal-moral dislocation of diasporic characters, Afro-Asian migrants in particular, is examined to propose internal or affective dimensions of the concept crisis in the third essay. I examine Moyez G. Vassanji’s migrant-minority narratives, in the postcolonial novel, travel-writing and memoir to show dislocated characters who embark on searches for identity and who struggle for intergenerational communication and cultural translation as writers. Finally, the mystic-poet provides an image of reconciling crisis through the theological motif of the quest of heart, the quest of the seeker to be reunited through self-emptying with their beloved-God.

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Corazonar with/in Maria Zambrano: insights into crisis, heart, and hope (2020)

Along with the different kinds of global crises we are going through, this thesis delves into the work of Spanish philosopher Maria Zambrano, whose critiques on the European modernity during the 20th century are more than ever relevant and can bring hope to these moments of despair. Through an exercise of exegesis and translation of three primary texts of Maria Zambrano, and based on three themes that I have found central in her work: crisis, heart and, hope, I weave connections between Zambrano’s poetic philosophy, with the Andean Kitu Kara concept of corazonar, along with insights about relevant topics that are currently shaking the world of education and humanity overall. The primary texts used are Hacia un Saber Sobre el Alma (Towards a knowledge about the soul) (1950), Los Bienaventurados (The Blessed) (1990), and Filosofía y Educación. Manuscritos (Philosophy and Education: Manuscripts) (2010). This study brings Zambrano’s rationalist perspective that integrates the intuitive, affective, contemplative and spiritual dimensions of life, that have been long undervalued in Western thinking. The themes of crisis, heart and, hope are developed as separate chapters and are weaved in with Zambrano’s call for integrating feelings and understanding, heart and reason, which are connected for the first time to the term corazonar. The word corazonar turns the heart into a verb, combines heart and thinking, means reasoning together and refers to a gut feeling or hunch. I explore Maria Zambrano’s ideas from my ever-present concern and love for Colombia and its path towards peace. This study is a major attempt to translate and interpret Zambrano’s ideas into English, contributing to the broader philosophical and educational studies beyond the borders of the Spanish language in which most of the scholarly work has been written in.

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Philosophical anthropology in education: essays on bildung, magic, and citizenship (2020)

This thesis is a study on philosophical anthropology in education. It addresses the question of being and becoming human beings through a collection of three essays in which the concepts of Bildung, fundamental equality, freedom, reality, magic, personhood, and democratic citizenship are analyzed. The emergence and transformation of one’s sense of self is the subject matter of the first essay. This topic is addressed by responding to a paper on fundamental equality and Bildung by Gad Marcus. Moving on from the question of the person exclusively, the main concern of the second essay is how this person grapples and accounts for its reality. This is carried through by exploring the literary genre of magical realism as a framework that contributes to expanding our understanding of the nature of reality. Finally, the third essay is a reflection on how humans interact and present themselves to others in the context of a democratic nation-state. This reflection is developed by analyzing two concrete examples drawn from the Venezuela-Colombia migration case that illuminate the lived experiences of forced migration and resettlement. The opening and concluding remarks included in the introductory and conclusion chapters address the style, method, commonalities, differences, and themes of this collection of essays. These are intended to provide a sense of integrity and wholeness to the thesis.

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Teachers and students: an Arendtian approach towards education (2020)

This research is conducted with a conceptual and philosophical approach in the humanities field. In this thesis, I put forward claims and objections, and argue them from reading literature including articles, books, fictions, from my own experiences, other people’s experiences, and examples. I hope to better understand the teacher-student relationship in terms of faith, love, authority and responsibility and to provide a way of thinking for both teachers and students to decide what to teach, how to teach, what to learn, and how to learn.In contemporary education, it has become common that teaching or learning is driven from the perspective of the students. The idea behind the emphasis on students lies in the pursuit for “equalization” between teachers and students. However, it is true that teaching or learning also involves the process of students being taught what they do not want or they do not know if they want it or not. Conflicts thus emerge and a new understanding of teacher-student relationship is required. Inspired by Hannah Arendt, I build up a theoretical framework about humans and an Arendtian society. I claim that human beings are defined by singularity and plurality, based on which I define an Arendtian society as a space where the private space of home and the public space of the world coexist. Within this framework, I argue that school should serve as both a private space and a public space. I explore the relationship between teacher’s authority and teacher’s responsibility and argue that teacher’s authority is necessary for the education process. I define teacher’s responsibility as a collective responsibility while student’s responsibility is a personal responsibility. Then, I discuss the problems of teacher-centered and student-centered education and propose a decentralization in education. My research falls back to the concept of faith in humanity and love of the world. I explore both teacher’s and student’s faith in each other and teacher’s love for students and conclude that faith and love make education possible.

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Esfarrapados: A Freirean Study (2019)

This thesis is a study of the esfarrapados, from Paulo Freire’s Pedagogia do Oprimido. It begins as a study of the ‘esfarrapados’ as a word, which unfolds both different linguistical and cultural meanings of the ‘esfarrapados,’ and Freire’s historical, philosophical, and theological heritages. Through the discovery of these heritages, this thesis progresses from the study of a word into the study of what the word discloses, human people. People with a history, with an ontological vocation, and a God given promise to be more. The aim of this study is to propose and prove the claim that whenever Paulo Freire writes regarding our “historical and ontological vocation to be more,” “to be more” is to be understood as “to be an esfarrapado.”

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Justice in Personhood: The Responsibility for Action (2019)

This master’s thesis is philosophically-oriented educational scholarship that proposes a theory of justice as personal responsibility for action. It belongs to the tradition of humanities-based research that uses pre-qualitative methods to develop concepts and ideas into philosophical arguments and theories. Remaining loyal to the style and methods of philosophy, this study provides definitions, offers distinctions and anticipates objections to the claim as a whole and its main premises individually which are “personhood” (in Chapter 3), “responsibility” (in Chapter 4), and “action” (in Chapter 5). This philosophical study has essentially evolved out of a preceding empirical research project on the perceived and experienced differences in relations to native and non-native English teachers in Turkey, from which “justice” appeared as a preliminary concept of conflict. This journey from an empirical to philosophical research is detailed in the introduction (Chapter 1). By taking a particular historical approach to the development of the concept of justice from Greece in antiquity to medieval Turkey (particularly in Chapter 2) to the present day, this thesis seeks to explore the barriers to and enablers of justice in the plurality of persons in the modern era. The claim that justice is a personal responsibility for action provides a conception of justice as a common language of relationality among human persons in a common world, acting on their ability to respond to other persons. The cultivation of this ability to respond to others gives education a binding role in this claim by providing the necessary conditions for persons to develop an understanding of living in a common world shared with others in the final chapter (Chapter 6). It also serves as a reflection on the problems that anticipated objections to the claim revealed, which are addressed from a pedagogical lens, thereby providing parents and teachers some common guides to promote justice through education.

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Learning taqwa: a mother's search for stories for her daughter (2019)

This thesis attempts to answer a deceivingly simple question: Which stories can I share with my daughter? Stories that do not reproduce the alienation of my formal education, nor the fear and prescriptiveness of my informal education, nor the desires of wealth accumulation that end up defining all relationships. I analyze my formal education through the lens of epistemic coloniality in order to investigate the sense of inferiority it perpetuated in me. I also delve into various scholarly perspectives of Islamic liberation theology (ILT) and how it differs from traditional theology. ILT allows religious education to move beyond the realm of fear of hell and the incentives of heaven. ILT proposes a praxis for social and political change. I propose taqwa as a grounding framework for my stories. Taqwa, which means God consciousness, proposes an orientation in consciousness that decenters one’s ego. Taqwa allows for a starkly different relationship than the relationship that is embedded in our current education system. It expands the purview of religious accountability by bringing in matters of structural harm. It also demands an evaluation of the desires of one’s own heart. In this thesis I critically examine the desire for wealth accumulation in our lives.Taqwa allows for a space for continuous struggle. This continuous struggle challenges complacency and sedentary thinking. Taqwa does not allow for the prescriptiveness endemic in the religious and non-religious education that I received. Taqwa is not a prescriptive solution for social maladies, but rather a tool for embedding humility, enabling radical love, and steering oneself in a socio-political emancipatory practice.

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Memories and imaginings: learning to prefigure how the mountains become the bluffs (2018)

Addyson Frattura-Kampschroer’s thesis is made within the tradition of humanities-based research. The thesis is a form of literary philosophy that practices pre-qualitative methods. Frattura-Kampschroer’s work is in partial fulfilment for the degree of Master of Arts in Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia. The thesis is a form of literary philosophy insofar as it is a philosophical work written in the literary form of a narrative. In essence, the claims are made narratively and then supported and analyzed throughout the use of metaphors, themes, and figures. The narrative is comprised of childhood vignettes of the rural Midwest. The vignettes carry the concepts through to provide particular sites for questioning and conceptualizing. Frattura-Kampschroer functions as the narrator as she tells stories in the style of creative non-fiction. However, the narrator, places, and stories are not of primary importance; they and unimportant things in unimportant places. What is of extreme importance are the concepts: prefigurative politics and freedom. Rather than addressing the concepts qualitatively, in the methodological style of the social sciences, the narrative itself is the method. More specifically, the thesis utilizes a pre-qualitative method. Finally, the narrative also exposes the pedagogical experience of a continually evolving learner, a learner who questions the context in which they are questioning. The supervisory committee is formed by four faculty members from the University of British Columbia. The committee is comprised of: Carl Leggo, Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti, William Pinar, and the primary supervisor being Sam Rocha.

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