Socratic Intervision Dialogue Training

As a researcher you are curious about the boundaries of knowledge. Constant pushing against these boundaries can be a frustrating exercise.
Socrates is your partner in distress. In ancient Greece he questioned his fellow Athenians about their hidden assumptions and the implications of their convictions. Disappointed when he found their knowledge shallow or faulty. A bit like you. But you differ because you do not only ask questions and never provide an answer. You attempt to not leave your audience conscious of their ignorance and in confusion, without a solution to the original problem.

Socrates’ way of questioning convictions, hypotheses, and situations is thorough and opens new perspectives. Today it is a useful technique to step out of the box and think deeper. You can apply Socratic Questioning to theoretical issues from your research as well as to more personal questions concerning your career and life.

Socratic Intervision Dialogues help you

  • have a deeper conversation with peers, thus stimulating professional development of academic researchers and peer problem solving in an early, preventive stage
  • get a better understanding of the perspective and assumptions of people you collaborate with (students you supervise, research partners, third party research funders, administrators, editors, etc…)
  • provide new insight in personal struggles such as motivational drain, moral dilemmas, conflicts of interest, or career stress

How it works

The complete training Socratic Intervision Dialogue (SID) begins with an introduction consisting of the workshop Socratic Questioning. This workshop can also stand alone and offers a basic training in the art of Socratic questioning.

The introduction is either structured around a previously determined question or theme; or each participant prepares a philosophical question from his or her personal, practical experience, one of which is collectively selected for the session. All participants contribute in the attempt to answer this question in a specifically structured dialogue according to conversation rules that are explained during the workshop. Once the case that brought up the question is sufficiently deepened and clarified, participants relate it to their own experience, thought, and feeling. Everyone then answers the question as if the case were theirs. To conclude the dialogue, we reflect on the essence, or central principles and values of the case in question and what is needed to do them justice.

Subsequent meetings follow a similar format. Cases from participants are selected with a view to urgency, commonality, and parity, so each participant is case provider at least once. Depending on circumstances and the nature of the case, the group can opt to discuss 2 cases in 1 session. As the Socratic and intervision competences of the group increase, guidance from the trainer decreases.

After the training participants are able to continue as an independent intervision group if they decide to do so.

The results of the Socratic Intervision Dialogue Training

Training a group of early career research professionals in this intervision method has many advantages. For instance for a group of PhD students:

  • The group is capable of effective peer support during the entire PhD trajectory.
  • They can provide focussed and structured peer reflection on professional conduct and development.
  • This makes the PhD process smoother and less solitary, facilitating early awareness of potential obstacles.
  • All of which allows for a more effective use of time and expertise of supervisors.

Practical information

Hours6 x 2 hours during 6 – 12 months
Participants5 – 10 PhDs, Postdocs, UDs, UHDs (all participants must be on the same function level)
LanguagesDutch or English

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