Dr. Christopher Peet
PLEASE NOTE: Dr. Peet is taking a one year Sabbatical Leave from July 1, 2016-July 1, 2017. Dr. Haluza-Delay will be acting as Interim Dean of Social Sciences for this year - direct any Dean-related inquiries to Dr. Haluza-Delay.
I approach psychology as a human science. Rather than apply the methods developed in the natural sciences in order to explain human being mechanistically and reductively, I am interested in an understanding of human life that speaks more closely to, and from, experience, while honouring how experience is irreducible to any of its explanations. I draw on methods developed in the humanities, most especially from continental philosophy (phenomenology, existentialism, and hermeneutics), with a historical focus, on the assumption that the center of the human psyche is located, not within us individually, but rather in a deep history that carries us, both collectively and individually. I see these different approaches converging on the theme of spiritual practice, and personally practice centering prayer, as developed by Thomas Keating, as a beautiful discipline of the inner life and a way to deepen meditation on the mystery of God.
When I'm not thinking, reading, writing, or teaching about these things, I spend as much time with my wife Tatiana, step-son Logan, and daughter Hannah as I can. Although our favorite family activity is probably reading, we also spend time in our home garden and community garden, we walk our dog Bella in the ravine, we let our cat Hazelpuff in, or out, of the house a bazillion times, and camp and hike when we can in the summer. I also have more guilty pleasures than I can or should list on this website, from hanging in the hammock, collecting useless things, reading steampunk or playing D&D, to being able to watch all the current adaptations (whether good, bad, or ugly!) to TV or movie of the Marvel comics I read when I was a kid.
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- Technology & culture: modern Western society has become pervasively shaped at every level by technology in a historically unprecedented manner. What are the effects and consequences of this development in the present on our communities and on our psyche? What hopes and anxieties for our future? How does it impact our belonging to our past and transform our relation to our historical traditions?
- History, tradition, & the future: our globalizing moment is, following Karl Jaspers' notion of "pivotal moments" in world history, undergoing a second "Axial Age". How is our current time repeating, fulfilling, failing, or diverging from the first Axial Age of 800-200 BC, when the 'shape' of world history is seeded and the "world religions" initiated? What lessons are we to learn from that world history to address contemporary challenges? In what ways can our belonging to tradition both root us in the past and enable us to move forward into the future with courage and hope?
- Spirituality & contemplation: at the heart of all myth and religion lies the mystery of human participation in the sacred transcendent, that shapes our spiritual lives and which in Christianity has been explored through the practices and disciplines of the contemplative tradition. How to live in that way today? How to retrieve the spiritual practices of the Christian tradition in our contemporary age? How to engage from this tradition in meaningful dialogue with the other great religions and traditions of the world?
- Ecopsychology: our current historical moment is one of ecological peril. The Anthropocene is the era of the Sixth Extinction, globalization exacerbates climate change, and world population continues to grow, all of which raises acutely the issue of how to live on the Earth and how to be in right relation to the natural world. What truths of wildness have we forgotten? What wisdom of indigenous peoples and from the great world religions and traditions must we recover? How to restore, through and beyond our traditions to which we belong, our deeper belonging to our earthly home?
Here are some of the courses I teach or have taught:
- Introduction to psychology: The person in society
- Between science and fiction: The intersection of psychology and literature (cross-listed & collaboratively delivered with English)
- Psychology of religion
- Social psychology (cross-listed with Sociology)
- Contemporary issues in psychology
- God, physics, and the human prospect (a Sociology course, cross-listed and collaboratively delivered with Theology & Natural Science faculty)
- History of psychology
- Philosophy of the sciences (a Philosophy course, collaboratively delivered with Philosophy & Natural Science faculty)
Here are some of the special Topics courses or Directed Studies I have taught:
- Psychology of technology
- Transcendence: inquiry into the extra-ordinary
- Cultural psychology and indigenous psychologies
- The psychology of sacrifice
- Askesis and spiritual exercises
- Spiritual and religious: Contemporary Christian spirituality in context
Research Opportunities for Students
There is opportunity, based on availability of funding, for paid research assistance work for students, working under the supervision of professors. (Note this is usually, but not necessarily or always, done in the summer.)
Recent students and projects I’ve supervised
- Meagan Sachs in studying “Christian spirituality: Practices and practitioners in greater Edmonton”
- Jason Horlings in developing an annotated bibliography on topic “Science and Oilsands Development: Science and Decision-making on Major Projects” as part of multidisciplinary team composed of Dr. John Hiemstra (Politics), Dr. Christopher Peet (Psychology), Dr. Gerda Kits (Economics), Dr. Michael De Moor (Philosophy), & Dr. Theresa Zolner (Psychology)
- Katherine Franke in developing an inventory “Christian spiritual practices in greater Edmonton”
- Marie Bullock on topic “Technology and immanence”
- Jeremy Beile on topic “Theorizing agency, questioning identity”
- Ami Harbin on topic “Excavating Rene Girard” (co-supervised with Dr. Henry Schuurman, professor of Philosophy)
Haluza-Delay, R., DeMoor, M., & Peet, C. (2013). That we may live well together in the land…: Place pluralism and just sustainability in Canadian and Environmental Studies. Journal of Canadian Studies, 47 (3), pp. 226-256.
Peet, C. (2012a). Psychology of religion 2013: Historical considerations. Journal of Religious Studies and Theology, 31 (2), pp. 111-127.
Peet, C, (Ed.) (2012b). Special issue: Psychology of religion. Journal of Religious Studies and Theology, 31 (2). (Guest editor for special issue.)
Peet, C. (2010). Roger Smith. Being Human: Historical Knowledge and the Creation of Human Nature. (Book review). Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 46 (3), pp. 325-7.
Peet, C. (2007). Beyond Foucault: Tradition and agency. In Citizen City: Between contructing agent and constructed agency, van Deventer, Tere Blanche, Fourie, & Segalo (Eds.). Toronto, ON: Captus University Publications.
Recent Conference Presentations
Peet, C., and Smythe, W. (2015). Iterations & immersions: Continued reflections on depth in culture. Paper presented at Western Canadian Theoretical Psychology (WCTP) Annual Conference, held in Victoria, BC, Sept. 24-27, 2015.
Peet, C. (2015). Psychological depth as a dis-integrative dynamic. Paper presented at Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) Annual Conference, Ottawa, Ontario, June 4-6, 2015.
Peet, C., and Smythe, W. (2014). On depth in culture. Paper presented at WCTP Annual Conference, held in Victoria, BC, Sept. 28-30, 2014.
Peet, C. (2013a). Transcending positivism: The Axial Age consciousness of psychology. Paper presented at CPA Annual Conference, Quebec City, Quebec, June 13-15, 2013.
Peet, C. (2013b). Reflections on the Axial age and the end of the world: toward a psychology with world-historical depth. Paper presented at WCTP Annual Conference, held in Victoria, BC, Sept. 26-29, 2013.
Peet, C. (2012). Dependence, irreducibility, and the “strain toward transcendence”: an Axial psychology? Paper presented at WCTP Annual Conference, held in Edmonton, Alberta, Sept. 27-30, 2012.
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