Eva Simms

Professor and Adrian van Kaam professor of psychology
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

212 Rockwell Hall
Phone: 412.396.6515


Ph.D., Psychology, University of Dallas, 1988
M.A., Psychology, University of Dallas,1982
B.A., Psychology, Phillips Universitaet Marburg, 1980
Abitur, History/English, Gymnasium am Rosterberg, Siegen, 1978
Bio and Expertise

Dr. Eva-Maria Simms is Adrian van Kaam professor of psychology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. She studied psychology at the Phillips Universitaet Marburg in Germany, and received her Ph.D. in phenomenological and archetypal psychology from the University of Dallas.

Dr. Simms' interests are interdisciplinary (philosophy, psychology, ecology, poetry, spirituality, feminism), but they converge in her writing and research on child psychology and eco-psychology. Her research group, PlaceLab, works with students to develop phenomenological concepts and methods for researching the intersection of community, nature, and place in collaboration with community organizations that steward local green spaces. Dedicated to ecopsychology and recovering the attachment between people and place, PlaceLab is looking for ways of giving voice to children's and adults' experiences of their local nature commons and help to develop community features and practices which enhance the connection between people and place. PlaceLab is pioneering qualitative research methods for the investigation of place- and nature experiences, which can help marginalized communities -- particularly children and youth -- advocate for and improve the places where they live and play.

In her phenomenological studies, which are informed by the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, she tries to create a language for dimensions of human experience that -- as long as they are unspoken -- generally remain outside the domain of human thought. She believes strongly that the interrelationship between philosophy and psychology can deepen both fields by providing better concepts to psychology and by validating philosophical concepts in the crucible of life-world situations.

Dr. Simms has written on child psychology, phenomenology, ecopsychology, feminist phenomenology, Merleau-Ponty, Goethean science, and the work of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. For links to her publications please check her academia.edu page.

Recent Publications

Simms, E.M. (2015). Technology-Textuality-Virtuality. In M. Sipiora (Ed.), Imagining Psychological Life: Philosophical, Psychological, and Poetic Reflections. Pittsburgh: Trivium.

Simms, E.M. (In press). The case of the lost piglets: A Merleau-Pontean analysis of the imaginary, symbolism, and language in trauma play. In Invitation to Psychology as a Human Science. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.

Simms, E.M. (2014). Adventures in the Hyperdialectic. In H. Fielding & D. Olkowski (Eds.), Future Directions in Feminist Phenomenology. Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Simms, E.M. (2014). Goethe und die Phänomenologie: Weltanschauung, Methode und Naturphilosophie. In J. Maatsch (Ed.), Morphologie und Moderne. Goethes‚ anschauliches Denken' in den Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften seit 1800. De Gruyter.

Simms, E.M. (2014). Going deep in place. Environmental and architectural phenomenology.

Simms, E.M. (2014). Intimacy and the face of the other: A philosohical study of infant institutionalization and deprivation. Emotion, Space, and Society, 13, 80-86. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.emospa.2013.11.008

Simms, E.M. (2013). Introduction: Concepts and methods in interdisciplinary feminist phenomenology. Janus Head

Simms, E.M. (2012). David L. Smith: Human Science Psychology's "Keeper of the Flame" October 24, 1931-July 21, 2011. The Humanistic Psychologist, 40(2), 218-220.

Simms, E.M. (2012). Feral city: Nature in urban environments (blogger for the literary journal). Coal Hill Review, http://www.coalhillreview.com/?cat=497.

Simms, E.M. (2012). Wieder denken zu lernen wie ein Kind [interview mit Eva-Maria Simms]. Journal PhÓ“nomenologie, 28(2012).

Simms, E.M. (2012). Der erlebte Raum des Kleinkindes: Tiefenstrukturen der menschlichen Raumerfahrung. In H. Schröteler-von Brandt (Ed.), Raum für Bildung: Ó’sthetik und Architektur von Lernund Lebensorten. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer Verlag.

Simms, E.M. (2012) Intimacy and early deprivation:A philosophical lesson about transcendence from infant research. In Emotion, Space, and Society, special Volume on Intimacy, edited by Kym McClaren, Ryerson University, Toronto (in press).

Simms, E.M. (2012) The Case of the Lost Piglets: An Ontological Psychoanalysis of Trauma Play and the Advent of Language, Festschrift for David Smith, Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center, Pittsburgh

Simms, E.M. (2012) Goethe und die Ph-nomenologie: Weltanschauung, Methode und Naturphilosophie, in Maatsch, T. et al. Eds, Morphologie und Moderne . Weimar, Germany: Klassik Stiftung Weimar (in press).

Simms, E.M. (2010) Egocentric Language and the Upheaval of Speech: A Merleau-Ponty Inspired Study of Language Acquisition, Chiasmi: An International Journal of Merleau-Ponty's Thought, vol. 12, 2010.

Simms, E.M. (2010) Questioning the Value of Literacy: A phenomenology of speaking and reading in children. In Coats, K. et al. eds. (2010) Handbook of Children's and Young Adult Literature. London/New York: Routledge.

Simms, E.M. (2010) Play and the Transformation of Feeling - Niki's Case. Gil, Eliana ed. Interpersonal Trauma: When Children Lead the Way. New York: Guilford Publications, Inc.

Simms, E.M. (2009) Eating one's mother: Female embodiment in a toxic world. Environmental Ethics, vol. 31, Fall 2009, pp. 263-278

Simms, E.M. (2008) The child in the world: Embodiment, time, and language in early childhood. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

Simms, E.M. (2008) Literacy and the Appearance of Childhood, Janus Head, 10(2), 445-459

Simms, E.M. (2009) Eating one's mother: Female embodiment in a toxic world. Environmental Ethics, vol. 31, Fall 2009, pp. 263-278

Simms, E.M. (2008) Children's lived spaces in the Inner city: geographical and political aspects of the psychology of place. The Humanistic Psychologist, vol. 36, Issue 1, January 2008, pp. 72-89

Simms, E.M. (2005) Goethe, Husserl, and the Crisis of the European Sciences. In Janus Head, Special Issue: Goethe's Delicate Empiricism. Summer 2005, vol. 8.1, pp. 160-172

Simms, E.M. (2005) Growing up in the Hood: sixty years of childhood in an inner city neighborhood. In Forneck, H.J. and Retzlaf, B., eds. Kontingenz - Transformation - Entgrenzung. 'ber Ver-nderungen im p-dagogischen Feld. Rostock: Ingo Koch Verlag. Pp. 75-88

Simms, E.M. (2004) Uncanny Dolls: Images of Death in Rilke and Freud, re-anthologized in Piven, J. The Psychology of Death in Fantasy and History. New York, Greenwood/Praeger.

Simms, E.M. (2003) Play and the Transformation of Feeling - A Clinical Case Study. In Olfman, S. (ed.), Crisis in Early Childhood Education: The Rise of Technologies and Demise of Play. New York, Geenwood/Prager.

Simms E.M. (2001) Milk and flesh: A phenomenological reflection on infancy and coexistence. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology. Vol. 32, Number 1, Spring 2001.

Simms, E.M. (2000) In Destitute Times: Archetype and Existence in Rilke's Duino Elegies. In R. Brooke (ed.) Pathways into the Jungian World. London: Routledge

Other Scholarly Work
CIQR Talk-March 2017

"Wipe my face with these bullets": The context and effects of youth gang violence in Beltzhoover


Dr. Simms introduces the conceptual frameworks (the spatial turn and phenomenology of place) and the idea of spatial justice that support community engaged research and scholarship. After an overview of PlaceLab activities, the presentation gives an example of qualitative research on violence and resilience in a local neighborhood.


Phenomenology of Human Development, PSYC 526

Advanced Qualitative Research, PSYC 612