What a critical social theory really needs to address is why hunger, poverty, and other forms of human suffering persist despite the technological and scientific potential to mitigate them or to eliminate them altogether.
– Lambert Zuidervaart
Heathwood Institute and Press is a non-profit critical social research project that was formed by a collective of academic researchers across a wide range of disciplines.
Heathwood’s aim is to investigate the roots of social, economic, and environmental crises. Offering a critical response to the crisis of contemporary social theory, Heathwood works toward to collective generation of transdisciplinary and critical theories of society. Heathwood does not interpret critical theory from a post-structuralist or post-modern perspective, as is common in much of contemporary social theory. Instead, Heathwood endeavors to move beyond post-structuralism and post-modern theory, not regressing to positivism but also not falling into the traps of relativism. We aim to bring varieties of interdisciplinary and methodologically innovative research together to participate in collectively generating transdisciplinary theories and outcomes. Through this process of collective innovation, Heathwood seeks to assist with the development of concrete policy alternatives that promote social justice.
After the first 2 years of operation (December, 2015) Heathwood began placing increased emphasis on methodologically innovative research that bridges the gap between philosophy, science and systematic empirical study. Maintaining the Frankfurt School’s vision of interdisciplinary social research combined with empirical and scientific analysis, Heathwood endeavors to help people understand the dynamic processes and forces of society and the foundational basis for revolutionary social, political and economic transformation.
In short: Heathwood’s collective pursuit is to ask fundamental questions about the way we as humans have historically related to ourselves, the world and each other. The project aims to look at how we humans respond to experience (emotionally, psychologically, and in our actions) and why we organise our institutions, societies and belief systems in the ways that we do. We combine phenomenology, ethnomethodology, structuralism, Marxism, humanism, existentialism, feminism, interactionism, and others, and ask hard questions about theories of religion, knowledge, education, and culture, and about how we build and perpetuate ideologies and unjust social-economic systems. In essence, we seek to understand how, why and when we relate to ourselves, the world and each other in destructive ways, and ultimately to develop new, healthier ways of relating and acting in the world.
To do this we bring together academics from a range of disciplines: economists, sociologists, anthropologists, historians, educationalists, philosophers, theologians, psychologists, scientists, and so on.
In building on and extending the traditions of critical theory, we strive to not only challenge existing fields of research and policy, but also to fundamentally challenge from a foundational and multidisciplinary perspective the existing social model as a whole, with a mind towards promoting systemic change and radical democratic alternatives.
Through our research we are working to develop an understanding of the critical meaning of “healthy or genuine social progress” in the 21st Century from a holistic, integrated, methodologically innovative perspective as part of Heathwood’s Critical Transdisciplinary Research Program (CTRP). We aim to achieve this through the advancement of critical research and study by calling for new standpoints of critique and ultimately grounding our calls for new norms of critique according to a foundational, multidimensional critical theory of society.
In the interests of “social progress” we are geared toward excellence in scholarship and distinguished merit in terms of providing ground breaking research across academic disciplines and fields, and with the ultimate goal of communicating the findings of our research in an engaging, practical manner that is both applicable to policy makers and accessible to the general public.
After 3 years of operation, we are now actively bringing together and supporting individuals who are leaders in their area and whose research possesses the potential to break new grounds in critical theoretical study. For more information, see the following sections on our website: