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Description of the Four Modes of Inquiry

At the heart of the act of knowing lie general epistemes or “modes of inquiry” that organize the way scholars approach and frame the objects they seek to understand. The honors program curriculum at Western is designed to expose students to four broadly conceived modes of inquiry and to provide experience in how those modes shape the questions asked and ultimately the methods by which questions are answered. These modes of inquiry are “textual analysis,” “artistic creation and analysis,” “scientific and mathematical analysis,” and “historical, social and cultural analysis.” Below is a brief description of each.


Textual Analysis:

Inquiry to explore the various ways in which a text conveys meaning or people derive meaning from a text (a text is viewed broadly and may include such items as a written work, popular culture, ritual and symbol).

Scientific and Mathematical Analysis:

Inquiry that utilizes the scientific processes of induction or deduction or some type of logico-mathematical representation or modeling to understand some event or phenomenon.

Artistic Creation and Analysis:

Inquiry through the creation, performance or analysis of a work(s) of theater, art, literature, music, sculpture or other generative activity. Outcomes focus on the production of something artistic or the critical understanding of some type of creative activity.

Historical, Social and Cultural Analysis:

Inquiry that examines how an event or phenomenon is shaped by history, society or culture.