Eva Simms

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 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


(Only recent publications are listed - a list of faculty publications prior to 2010 can be found here)

Gupta, N., Simms, E., & Dougherty, A. (2019). Gupta, Nisha, Eva-Maria Simms, and Aaron Dougherty. "Eyes on the Street: Photovoice, Liberation Psychotherapy, and the Emotional Landscapes of Urban Children.". Emotion, Space, and Society.

Simms, E.M. (2019). A Phenomenology of Reading: Textual Technology and Virtual Worlds. Under Review, Why Phenomenology Matters to Education.

Simms, E. M. (2019). Juvenile Justice in ContextDocumentary Film.

Simms, E. (2018). Merleau-Ponty, the Spatial Turn, and Spatial Justice. Acta Structuralia, 2018 (2), 171-189.

Simms, E. (2017). Chiasm and Hyperdialectic: Reconceptualizing Sensory Deprivation in Infancy. Phenomenology and the cognitive science, 16, 637-648.

Simms, E. (2017). Adventures in the Hyperdialectic. Future Directions in Feminist Phenomenology (pp. 141ff). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Simms, E. (2017). Psychology and lived space: Woodland paths and the pathic dimension of place experience. Place, Space and Hermeneutics (pp. 437-449). Springer Publishers.

Simms, E. (2017). Phenomenology and the study of nature places: A schoolyard place study. In M. Brinkmann, M. F. Buck, & S. S. Röde (Eds.), Phänomenologie --Pädagogik; Pädagogik - Phänomenologie, Brinkmann, M., Buck, M.F. and Rödel, S.S. (eds.). (pp. 275-289). Springer Publishers.

Simms, E.M. (2016). 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. (2016). Phenomenology, Language and the Unspoken: The Pre-verbal Dimension of Children's Experience. Springer Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory.

Simms, E., & Christian, T. (2016). Bernd Jager (1931-2015) A Short Biography and Letters From His Friends. Humanistic Psychologist, 44 (1).

Simms, E. (2015). Try Emerald View Park for a New Birding Treat. The Peregrine.

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

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, 25 (3), 10-11.

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.


Other Scholarly Work


"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
  • Advanced Qualitative Research