A Message from the Chair
Dear Alumni and Friends,
This year has been forever marked by the current pandemic. Like everywhere else’s, the life of our philosophical community has been turned upside down. Everyone had to leave campus in a hurry. Instructors, TAs and students had to quickly adapt to remote instruction, and all planned events and activities either were cancelled or had to be reorganized in a remote format. As you will read in this newsletter, before all of this happened, our students and faculty were thriving, the colloquia, workshops, conferences and other events were enriching the intellectual life of the whole community, and we added a new colleague to our ranks. In the Fall, we welcomed Chad Horne (PhD, University of Toronto), a new assistant professor of instruction who specializes in bioethics and political philosophy. There is no denying that the pandemic has brought about serious disruptions. However, all the members of our community have given their best to keep our community together in spite of the massive disruptions brought about by this unprecedented situation. When all of this is over, we will celebrate this common effort in the hardest of circumstances. Among the cancelled events, a very special and dear one for us was a conference organized by the department to honor Ken Seeskin on the occasion of his retirement. We won’t let this one be taken away from us by the pandemic. We will celebrate our dear colleague together next year.
Some of the ongoing initiatives that are run by our undergraduate community and that you will find in the newsletter include groups such as the Undergraduate Philosophy Society (NUPS) and Women in Philosophy (WiPhi), and the PhilFEST to celebrate senior students who write honors theses, which was transformed into our first departmental online conference for undergraduates. On the other hand, PhilNight (a series of mini-lectures given by faculty members on topics selected by NUPS) and the Bussey Lecture featuring a high-profile woman in philosophy and annual lectures (organized by WiPhi) were already organized but had to be called off due to the pandemic. In Fall, we celebrated the Inclusiveness Lecture (aimed at making the department more welcoming for all students). In addition, some recently created undergraduate-graduate initiatives like the NU chapter of MAP (Minorities and Philosophy), an international network of students aimed at addressing issues of minority participation in academic philosophy, and the Ethics Bowl Team (a student-organized group that competes in ethical adjudication contests at the regional and national levels and is coached by our colleague, Prof. Horne) bear testimony to the liveliness and engagement of the department’s undergraduate community.
To continue making our undergraduate program as vibrant and productive as possible, we constantly think about ways to improve our students’ experience. These include
- teaching students to meet the highest standards of scholarship and to acquire the needed skills to critically examine complex questions and to communicate effectively
- providing an expanding variety of courses to offer students a learning experience from a wide range of philosophical topics, perspectives and traditions
- recognizing superlative accomplishments in philosophical work and citizenship by conferring numerous annual awards for students’ outstanding achievements
- supporting research opportunities and providing travel funds to undergraduate students so that they can present at national and international venues
- emphasizing support for students’ initiatives like the Undergraduate Philosophy Society, Women in Philosophy, MAP, Ethics Bowl, etc.
- creating and supporting new ways of integrating undergraduate, graduate and faculty work in philosophy by fostering mentoring relationships, joint initiatives and research opportunities
- strengthening connections between our majors and professional networks that can help them jumpstart their professional careers after graduation.
The continued generosity of our alumni enables us to make this department a thriving, energetic, and welcoming environment. Any donation specifically earmarked as a gift to the philosophy department is used wholly to strengthen our programs and activities and to benefit philosophy students. A gift of any size ($1,000, $500, $100, or even $25) makes a considerable difference.
Thank you for your continuing friendship with the Philosophy Department and for your ongoing commitment to Northwestern.
Harold H. and Virginia Anderson Professor of Philosophy and Chair
To make a gift online, please visit We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern. You may also make your contribution by calling the Development Office at 800.222-5603.