Defining dignity in higher education as an alternative to requiring ‘Trigger Warnings’

Nursing Philosophy 25 (1):e12474 (2024)
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Abstract

This article examines trigger warnings, particularly the call for trigger warnings on university campuses, and from a Levinasian and Kantian ethical perspective, and addresses the question: When, if ever, are trigger warnings helpful to student's learning? The nursing curriculum is developed with key stakeholders and regulatory bodies to ensure graduate nurses are competent to deliver a high standard of care to patients and clients. Practical teaching practice and published research has uncovered an increasing use of ‘Trigger Warnings’ before a topic is discussed, or used as warnings on core module texts. It is appreciated that some students have personal experience of psychological or physical trauma. However, apart from identifying these students through Mitigating Circumstances committees, or when the student feels confident to share this information with a personal tutor, this information remains strictly confidential. There is the potential for covert skills such as critical analysis and skilful discussion not being attained by the student. With the assistance of Kants moral theory, an argument will develop that the insidious use of Trigger warnings and the embargo of recommended reading, requires critical discussion with the public. This would involve the rationale and pedagogical justification for the use of texts, and the necessity within nursing education to address challenging clinical topics. To support students with PTSD this may involve the research discussed on personal educational needs analysis.

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