P. Taylor Webb

 
Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not looking for graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows. Please do not contact the faculty member with any such requests.

Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

Education governance, policy, and politics
Michel Foucault
Gilles Deleuze
Neoliberalism
Governmentality
Micropolitics
Biopolitics
Subjectivity
Artificial Intelligence

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.
 
 

Research Methodology

Qualitative and Post-qualitative
Fieldwork in Philosophy
Problematizations
Archeology, Genealogy, & Arts of the Living (Foucault)
Network Governance

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.

Enacting the NCLEX-RN exam in a Canadian nursing context: a critical policy analysis (2022)

A major change in Canadian nursing educational policy occurred in 2015 with the adoption of the NCLEX-RN® exam as Canada’s new registration exam for baccalaureate nursing graduates. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the pressures the NCLEX-RN® exam exerted on Schools of Nursing, nursing educators, and nursing administrators, and how educational performance accountability changed the practice and values of the Canadian nursing profession. How did the NCLEX-RN® exam position and affect Canadian Schools of Nursing, nursing administrators, and educators? In what ways did participants adapt or resist these changes? Whose, or which, interests were served through the adoption of the exam? The research was conducted through the complementary qualitative research approaches of critical policy analysis and focused ethnography. Research methods included participant observations, interviews, and document analyses. Twelve educators and administrators from four Schools of Nursing in British Columbia participated in the study. Data were analyzed in relation to neo-liberalism, governmentality, power, and globalization. Data generation and findings were discussed through four major categories namely regulation, curriculum, performativity, and resistance. Findings supported arguments that nursing regulation was influenced by globalization and neo-liberalism, and that British Columbian nursing education was influenced by quasi-marketization. Many Schools of Nursing adopted curriculum products emanating from private-public sectors. Curriculums, evaluation assessments, and teacher content were being aligned to the NCLEX-RN® exam. Certain content, relevant to the Canadian nursing context, were less emphasized, or discussed as ‘subjugated’. Canadian nursing education was being retooled away from concerns for the public good and towards the production of human capital. Findings illustrated that Schools of Nursing, nursing educators, and administrators, were being reshaped toward the values and technologies of educational performativity. Participants described “teaching to the test”, decrease teaching autonomy, a range of emotions, and a sense of insecurity as they questioned the meaning and importance of their roles as educators or administrators. Resistance took many forms including the generation of organizational fabrications which portrayed a constructive view of their program or of themselves. Participants, through resistance and fabrications, exerted their own power to alter the power relations that were already at play.

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Minor videos and becoming-Japanese: problematizing [co][existence] and envisioning alternative futures of young migrants' lives in Japan (2022)

This dissertation describes the production and governance of young migrants in Japan as (educational) ‘problems’ and ‘deficits.’ It examines the discursive and non-discursive contexts of the Japanese government’s ethnocentric policy aspirations to realize multicultural coexistence against a backdrop of increasing newcomer populations. It notes, however, that the policy aspirations are problematic because they uphold a majoritarian ideals based on ‘cosmeticism,’ ‘paternalism,’ and ‘difference-blindness.’ Such ideals are premised on an ontology of Japanese exceptionalism known as Nihonjinron. Young migrants’ disinvestment is a by-product of the contradictory policy aspirations of coexistence and Nihonjinron through which they get labeled as deficits based on unilateral assessments of their Japanese language abilities. Disinvested young migrants are placed in a bracketed state of [co][existence] which delimits their lives a priori as forms of non-living and non-existence. The prime objective of the research project for this dissertation was to suspend the policy aspirations of [co][existence] to assist six disinvested young migrants of JSL centre Kaede in reinvesting amid the contested policy landscape in order to envision alternative futures. My attempts at aiding their reinvestment entailed intervening through the theoretical lenses of a ‘policy problematization,’ which was plugged into Multiple Literacies Theory’s (MLT’s) reontologized notion of literacies and subjectivities. The research mapped the MLT-informed literacies as ‘sense,’ ‘intensive,’ and ‘immanent’ readings and new subjectivities as becoming within the affective policy landscapes of [co][existence]. The research pursued these goals by co-creating videos through a post-qualitative methodology of what I call ‘minor video-making,’ in which a group of young migrants and myself as researcher-educator-videographer collaborated as ‘intercessors’ to produce two short docufictions titled Watermelons and Humans and Always. I subsequently analyzed these videos with principles of Deleuzian film/cinema-philosophy to assist the participants in developing aspirations, hopes, and subjectivities for alternative forms of coexistence in Japan. Becoming-Japanese was our joint reinvestment in challenging both our fixed points of identity and the logics and rationalities of [co][existence] policy aspirations. During the minor video-making and subsequent analysis processes, the participants developed and demonstrated parallel thoughts and practices that generated the potential for other modes of life and existence for them in Japan.

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Chinese international students' engagement with democratic discourses and practices in Canada and the United States (2020)

This dissertation situates current Chinese international students in the historical flow of internationally mobile Chinese people since the late 19th century. Informed by their predecessors’ significant contributions to China’s political transformation in the 20th century, the doctoral research conceives of these students as political subjects ‘in the making’, and examines them as potential influencers on China’s democratization efforts in the upcoming decades. This doctoral study examines how Chinese international students become and/or are made into political – and possibly democratic – subjects through their engagement with democracy while pursuing degrees at universities in Canada and the United States. Adopting a qualitative case study approach, the study recruits twelve students from two sites, one on the Canadian West Coast and the other on the U.S. East Coast. It collects data on participants’ engagement with democratic discourses and practices in their two host countries with three methods (i.e., qualitative interviewing, observations, and document gathering). Findings demonstrate that international mobility in higher education has significant bearings on participants’ political subjectivity. Particularly noteworthy is that half of the twelve participants emerge with increased commitment to democracy and increased competence to effect democratization in China. Increased commitment and competence were closely related to students’ engagement with three kinds of democratic practices: 1) those associated with learning and unlearning about democracy, 2) those associated with democratic elections at the regime level, and 3) those associated with organization design and management. Further, students’ engagement with democratic practices occurred largely in two spaces related to their education: 1) the conceptual space entailed in disciplinary studies, especially those in the social sciences, 2) the structural procedural space entailed in the electoral politics of the two host countries and politics in Chinese international student organizations. Finally, the dissertation research illustrates how democratic practices were related to different spaces, including conceptual and structural procedural spaces.

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Subjectivity in the folds: education, media practices, and environmental activism amongst more-than-human pleats (2019)

This study examines everyday media practices in environmental movements, activism campaigns, claims to education, and their relation to subjectification through various contortions of the verb ‘fold.’ Thinking with different types of folds (e.g., pleats, inflections, twists), it proposes concepts for investigating subjectification as a series of shifting spatial and temporal arrangements between a) environmental non-governmental organizations’ (ENGOs) campaigns and their educational intentions, b) residents’ media practices in ecological conflicts, and c) more-than-human forces and events of the Anthropocene. The project reconsiders media practices and environmental movement learning in ecologically perturbed times through the thought of Gilles Deleuze (1988, 1993), especially his concept of ‘the fold’ and its quadripartite architecture of subjectivity, comprising folds of knowledge, matter, force, and ‘the outside’ or death/extinction. I argue that subjectivity is produced through media and knowledge practices in ecological conflicts—not as a ‘being’ or the bounded contours of a human entity, but as an event and a process of folding inflected by more-than-human pleats. Situated within darker hues of ecological thought, this study engages with and problematizes the media practices of 24 residents in anti-oil pipeline movements in British Columbia, Canada (e.g., tracking online petitions, following (or not) ENGOs’ social media feeds, engaging in online news comments, photographing themselves at protests, writing letters to editors), and their ambivalent encounters with activism campaigns, digital strategies, and especially claims to knowledge and education made by six ENGOs in attempts to contrive ‘political subjects.’ The collection of chapters invites a textured and geometric reading, privileging proliferation over coherence. Subjectivity is folded and refolded in relation to media practices and education through a fieldwork in textures: a) an approach to research for thinking and ‘experimenting’ with subjectivity as concomitantly folded in multiple ways, and b) a mode of inquiry that examines how concepts and fieldwork inflect each other. I develop ‘folded concepts’ emerging from methodological conundrums, mapping the limitations of human thought, conflicting claims to education, media practices, and the more-than-human forces that affect them. Moving away from effects or what campaigns represent, the study focuses on what campaigns and practices do and affect.

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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.

Examining the OECD’s perspective on AI in education policy : a critical analysis of language and structure in the ‘AI and the future of skills’ (AIFS) document and its implications for the higher education (2023)

This thesis conducts a critical discourse analysis of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) perspectives on the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education policy. The research focuses on the OECD’s AI and the Future of Skills (AIFS) volume, revealing how the organization envisions AI’s impact on workforce skills and its implications for global education systems. AI, exemplified by IBM’s Watson and OpenAI’s ChatGPT, has revolutionized various sectors, including education. The study traces the transformative influence of these AI models, specifically in higher education, from enhancing learning efficiencies to governing education sectors. The integration of AI in education, as reflected in the discourse and policies of international organizations like the OECD, underscore the constant evolution of AI and its increasing influence. The research utilizes Norman Fairclough’s work to carry out a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of the AIFS document. The analysis aims to identify the underlying assumptions and ideologies that shape the OECD’s approach to AI in education policy. By examining the language, discourses, and structure of the document, insights are provided into the organization’s priorities, which are intended to shape the future of education across many nations. Moreover, the research considers broader contexts, such as educational neoliberalism, AI, and predictive forecasting in education. It critically examines the OECD’s priorities and discourses related to AI’s role and influence in education, particularly in anticipatory governance. The study is designed to provide valuable insights into the implications of the OECD’s approach to education in the age of AI. In conclusion, this study presents a comprehensive discourse analysis of the AIFS document’s language and structure, revealing the inherent ideologies related to AI in education policy. It underscores the critical role of international organizations like the OECD in shaping education policies in the AI era, contributing to the evolving discourse on AI, education policy, and the changing landscape of education governance.

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Schooling, power and subjectification: combining the ideas of Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu (2022)

No abstract available.

Is Freire's critical pedagogy applicable to China's higher education? a philosophical examination (2018)

The purpose of this study is to identify the assumptions of China’s civic education and compare these assumptions to the key concepts involved in Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy, particularly his ideas of (1) critical consciousness, (2) humanization, and (3) dialogue. Based on the specific social and political contexts in which each of these pedagogies arose, the thesis will explore the limitations and potential of applying Freire’s critical pedagogy to enhance university students’ critical and civic consciousness in China.To this end, the thesis will present a comparative study of Freirean critical pedagogy and the Chinese culture of pedagogy in order to explore the following questions: What are the key concepts that support Freire’s conception of transformative education? What are the key concepts of China’s civic education? How do Freire’s and China’s concepts relate or compare to each other? How might Freirean ideas of critical consciousness and social transformation be informed or extended in relation to the challenges posed by China’s conception of civic education? What challenges or implications arise when attempting to use or implement Freire’s ideas of critical pedagogy within China’s higher education system (e.g., to teach for transformation)?These questions will be answered by exploring the points of commonality and difference between the worldviews framing the civic education in China’s higher education institutions and Freire’s critical pedagogy.

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Otherworlds : teachers' experiences of power vis a vis accountability policies in South Carolina (2014)

This study focuses on a single school district as a site of concept-building in relation to teachers’ subjective experiences of power vis à vis a neoliberal policy regime. The assemblage of teachers’ subjectivities takes place in the context of the Southeastern United States, in a policy environment highly influenced by neoliberal ideology. The study focuses on the South Carolina School Report Card Policy (part of No Child Left Behind) as an instantiation of neoliberal education policy and draws on a Foucauldian and Deleuzian framework for understanding how power produces teachers’ subjectivities with and through policy. The researcher orients this work as a fieldwork in philosophy in order to think about power with teachers in the situated contexts of their lives in a unique school district; this study therefore generalizes to theory rather than to people or location. The research concludes that power a/effected teachers’ subjectivities through disciplinary technologies and the creation and maintenance of affective channels, having bodily and material impacts on teachers, and causing them to find ‘the other’ of students’ bodies, which have been raced, classed, and gendered, in themselves.

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(De/Re)- Constructing teachers and their work: A discourse analysis of British Columbia's 21st-century policy agenda (2013)

This study made use of content and discourse analysis to critically examine how the ideas of ‘good teaching’ and ‘good teachers’ were developed and used within the policy-document A Vision for 21st Century Education. Released in 2010 by British Columbia’s Premier’s Technology Council, A Vision for 21st Century Education is a localized policy that attempts to re-imagine key features of teachers and their work in ways that are consistent with the goals of the larger 21st-century policy agenda currently circulating the world. Through my use of content and discourse analysis, I show how A Vision for 21st Century Education promotes a vision of schooling that is largely a neoliberal and managerialist enterprise that relegates teachers and teaching to subordinate roles within processes of policy development and policy implementation. The study identifies two prominent discourses within A Vision for 21st Century Education: ‘learnification’ translates and reduces public education to terms of ‘learners’ and ‘learning,’ and ‘accountingization’ re-imagines teachers’ work as ‘that which can be counted.’ I take care to show how these discourses (i) are developed within the text through genre and style, modalization and passivation; and (ii) subordinate teachers beneath the values of policy makers. I argue that this relative devaluation of teachers and their work provides a basis for increased school conflicts, contributes to elevated stress among teachers, and may encourage teacher ‘burnout.’ As a point of contrast, I sketch an alternative vision of the role of teachers’ work that is grounded in democratic values and practices.

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Publications

 
 

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