The Scholarship of Critique and Power

  • T. Camille Martin-Thomsen Pratt Institute
  • Gaia Scagnetti Pratt Institute
  • Siobhan R. McPhee University of British Columbia
  • Ashley B. Akenson Tennessee Technological University
  • Dana Hagerman University of Wisconsin Whitewater
Keywords: critique and power, feedback, cultural hegemony, inequity, authority, white habitus, critique, power


Critique can be defined as disciplinary feedback, analysis, or assessment provided to an individual or within a group, be it a classroom or a team. At a fundamental level, it is an exchange of ideas, impressions, evaluations, opinions, reflections, judgments, speculations, or suggestions to oneself or between two or more participants in a defined context. Scholars describe critique as a signature pedagogy in many disciplines, a cornerstone of the educational experience. There has been scant critical analysis of how critique also represents a performance of power with roots in positions of authority, expertise, or assigned roles. Such power dynamics have been explored in some areas within SoTL, for example in scholarship on assessment, epistemic disobedience, social justice, feminist pedagogies, and critical race theory. However, this has generally not been the case within the scholarship on critique. To better understand the dimensions of power in the context of critique we developed a conceptual framework that can be applied at the individual level (teacher to student, student to student) as well as the systemic level (critique as a construct of cultural hegemony in a specific episteme). Drawing from theoretical and pedagogical literature in areas such as cultural studies, whiteness studies, design education, and assessment, the conceptual framework defines power in three main expressions: power as inequity, power as authority, and power as cultural hegemony. The framework can be used to identify and define power within the critique context and to also inform reflection and shift perspectives at various academic levels.

Author Biographies

T. Camille Martin-Thomsen, Pratt Institute

Camille Martin-Thomsen, M.Arch, AIA, NCARB, NOMA is the Assistant Dean of the School of Design at Pratt Institute (USA) and the founder of Martin-Thomsen Architecture, PLLC (New York and Copenhagen). Her current research investigates inclusive pedagogies and how to decolonize design curricula across disciplines.

Gaia Scagnetti , Pratt Institute

Gaia Scagnetti, Ph.D., is Acting Chair and Associate Professor in the Graduate Communications Design program at Pratt Institute (USA). Her current research projects discuss critical pedagogies, strategies, and approaches for higher education design.

Siobhan R. McPhee, University of British Columbia

Siobhán McPhee, PhD., is an Associate Professor of Teaching in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia (CAN). Her areas of SoTL research include educational technologies, augmented reality, and alternative methods of knowledge mobilization, especially in the realm of public scholarship and blended pedagogies for social justice.

Ashley B. Akenson, Tennessee Technological University

Ashley B. Akenson, Ph.D., is the Director of Graduate Programs for Tennessee Tech's College of Education (USA). Her research interests and work focus on bringing critical examination, multicultural awareness, and mindfulness to program planning and evaluation practices, research methods, and everyday interactions and processes.

Dana Hagerman, University of Wisconsin Whitewater

Dana Hagerman, Ph.D., is a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (USA) in the College of Education and Professional Studies. The focus of her work is personalizing learning for K-12 students and pre-service teachers through a lens of socially just practices.   


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How to Cite
Martin-Thomsen, Tiona Camille, Gaia Scagnetti, Siobhan R. McPhee, Ashley B. Akenson, and Dana Hagerman. 2021. “The Scholarship of Critique and Power”. Teaching & Learning Inquiry 9 (1), 279-93.
ICWG Special Section