Reflections on Disciplinary Identity

In our last GCP session, we used a Venn diagram to visualize intersections of our personal, academic and disciplinary identities. I found it immensely challenging for me to tease out the complex layers of my identity – especially when my “academic student” identity is highlighted by my immediate environment. I also had an ugly realization of self-delusion-in-action while engaging in this activity – the items that I committed to paper were how I WANT to perceive myself instead of the completely honest and unedited picture of my identity.

In making the bold assumption that (at least some) people would behave similarly to me – in having the tendency to paint a pretty picture about who they are – I realize that we need to actively put ourselves on the other side of the table and see from others’ perspectives, however uncomfortable and furstrating, whenever we encounter an identity conflict (and the ethical dilemma associated with it) and do our best in collaboratively finding an approach that is acceptable to the identities in conflict. While I recognize we may not always have this luxury, I believe it is something we should be increasingly mindful of whenever we notice our reaction of resistance towards these identity conflicts.

What lingered with me after the session was the topic of tolerance paradox – it may have something to do with my science background and my recent rediscovery of Karl Popper. I think our discussion really brought out the need for open discourse and acknowledgment of emotions, especially when there is an identity conflict in our interactions. These are important and productive conversations to have, should we ever want to learn about the many potential ethical implications in confronting these identity conflicts (as Joseph’s example demonstrated). I cannot wait for our continued discussion on disciplinary identity!

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