One might say that good advising requires understanding of those being advised. Yet, the way to achieve an accurate understanding of each advisee is unclear. An introduction to the field of hermeneutics, including an outline of Martin Heidegger's notion of human being and existential understanding, is presented to offer advisors a new opportunity to think closely about how to approach the work of understanding the advisee. Hermeneutic theory is presented, not as a new methodological approach to advising, but as a way of reconceptualizing what ought to be involved in the process of understanding the individual advisee.
Sarah Champlin-Scharff is the Undergraduate Program Administrator for the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies at Harvard College. She earned her undergraduate degree in philosophy and women studies from the University of New Hampshire, her MA in philosophy from Boston College, and her MEd in higher education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her current research focuses on the notion of hermeneutic understanding in academic advising, but she is also interested in issues related to multicultural advising and advising high achieving students.