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For the 2016 Mitchell Symposium, the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy welcomed Staffan Josephsson, PhD, OT, and professor of occupational therapy at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Dr. Josephsson’s research has focused on activity in relation to creativity, involvement, and participation for people with chronic disabilities. His expertise in the narrative tradition of research emphasizes the everyday lived experiences of people. Dr. Josephsson’s contributions to occupational therapy and occupational science are significant and it was an honor to host him for the 2016 Mitchell Symposium.

The Mitchell Symposium consists of a formal public lecture, a scholarly seminar with doctoral students and faculty, a lunch meeting with the MSOT students, and individual meetings with students and faculty. The event is named in honor and memory of Dr. Marlys Mitchell, the founder of the master’s program in occupational therapy at UNC.

Dr. Josephsson’s public lecture titled “Transactional Perspectives on Occupations: Missed Possibilities in Research and Practice” emphasized the need for occupational therapists and occupational scientists to take a holistic approach to viewing humans and their actions. Dr. Josephsson highlighted the tendency for researchers, theorists, and clinicians to study, articulate, and rehabilitate human action in reductionist terms. He argued that the development of theoretical concepts, and associated language, tends to reify action into separable parts which poorly reflect the wholeness of the lived experience. Dr. Josephsson’s presentation pushed the boundaries of students’ theoretical and practical understandings of meaningful action and has subsequently fueled numerous discussions regarding how to build onto his ideas.