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Call for abstracts: APA Eastern Division meeting session on the philosophy major

Monday, July 6, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Erin Shepherd
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The American Philosophical Association Committee on the Teaching of Philosophy invites abstracts for its upcoming session on the undergraduate philosophy major at the APA Eastern Division meeting, January 6-9, 2016, in Washington, DC.
We are interested, particularly, in how philosophy departments are responding to recent institutional and cultural calls to prepare students more directly for the changing job landscape:
How might we balance the needs of current students, given that so few continue in philosophy, with our traditional sense of the major? To what extent should we directly respond to our students’ need to find gainful employment? We also are interested in the following questions:
  • How closely should we tailor our majors to our local student populations, to our own faculty members' strengths, and to the other majors offered on our campuses? How site-specific should the major be?
  • How should we balance breadth of subfield coverage with the teaching of reading, writing, and speaking skills?
  • What does an effective gateway course look like? What special steps, if any, should a department take to draw majors out of introductory courses?
  • Should the history of philosophy serve as a prerequisite to the major, as something students study throughout the major (in every course), or as an optional area of concentration? Should logic serve as a prerequisite, as something students study in several courses, or as an elective?
  • How should we think about course progression? For example, should epistemology appear as a sophomore-level course focused on the history of skepticism, as a more sophisticated, junior/senior-level course focused on recent discussions of stakes, or both?
  • How should we balance required courses with electives? What is the appropriate number of special topics seminars?
  • Which courses can be taught as e-courses, if any, and which courses will not work as e-courses?
  • Can or should we require experiential learning courses as part of the philosophy major? Team-based learning? Project-based learning?
  • Where in the philosophy major does independent research belong, if anywhere?
  • How can we create memorable capstone experiences?
  • When designing the major, should we think, specifically, about how to attract and retain more students? What strategies to increase retention and enrollments have worked at your institution?
If your philosophy department has a major that works particularly well (as gauged by retention numbers, major/minor numbers, or graduates’ achievements, for instance), if your philosophy department has recently revamped its major, or if your department is struggling with questions about the major that apply broadly throughout the profession, please consider joining our panel to share your thoughts and experiences. The committee is aiming to assemble a panel that is diverse in all respects. We hope to include presenters from different institutional settings, philosophical subfields, and departmental organizations (i.e., philosophy departments, philosophy and religion departments, humanities departments, etc.).
To participate in the session, please e-mail Wendy Turgeon ( by Monday, August 10, 2015, with the following information: In the body of the e-mail, please include your name, institutional affiliation, position, contact information, and a link to the website that describes the philosophy major at your institution. Attached to the e-mail, please include a CV and a brief abstract (250 to 500 words) explaining what you would like to discuss. The committee will select 4-6 presenters for the panel by mid-August 2015.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me (
Alexandra Bradner
Chair, APA Committee on the Teaching of Philosophy

The American Philosophical Association
University of Delaware
31 Amstel Avenue, Newark, DE 19716
Phone: 302.831.1112 | Fax: 302.831.8690