New Currents in Teaching Philosophy 7/24/2022 7/24/2022 7/24/20227/28/20227/28/20227/28/2022 Baltimore, MD
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About the Institute

At a time when so many voices clamor that a college education must be “practical”—and allege that philosophy is anything but practical—persuading students to take philosophy courses at most colleges and universities can be a daunting task.

New Currents in Teaching Philosophy is designed to help philosophy instructors at smaller liberal arts colleges address this high-stakes challenge. Philosophers know that a successful immersion in philosophy offers undergraduate students a distinctive experience. Philosophy trains them to be exceptionally clear, precise, and rigorous thinkers and writers. It instills the skills and habits of mind that students need to identify and navigate the deep sources of uncertainty and ambiguity that pervade modern life. It also provides a model for successful argument and communication across profound differences of opinion. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer students at smaller institutions are reaping the intellectual and personal benefits of philosophy.
I have never experienced anything quite like this workshop … the experience was overwhelmingly positive, as well as being deeply useful professionally.
—Participant in the 2021 Institute
New Currents in Teaching Philosophy helps meet this challenge by bringing together the most dedicated philosophy instructors from CIC member institutions and introducing them to a group of highly innovative, field-tested philosophy courses, through intensive, collaborative sessions led by the original course designers. The broad topics for the inaugural Institute in 2021 included: teaching current moral and social issues; philosophy as a guide to “the good life”; the intersection of mind and machine (where epistemology, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence collide); and theories of justice in a world of inequalities. Additional sessions were devoted to specific pedagogical approaches that faculty members can apply to many philosophy courses. The Institutes in 2022 and 2023 will explore similar topics.

Participants will leave the Institute with new knowledge from burgeoning fields of philosophical inquiry, novel strategies for teaching philosophy, and concrete plans for new innovative courses. The ultimate goal is to attract more students to philosophy courses, recruit more minors and majors, sustain and strengthen the philosophy programs at independent colleges and universities—and push back against a blinkered view of philosophy’s value.

This initiative has been made possible through generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Institute Director

Ned Hall headshotNed Hall is Norman E. Vuilleumier Professor of Philosophy and chair of the philosophy department at Harvard University. He is a leading scholar of metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of science. Hall was educated at Reed College and Princeton University, where he received his PhD in philosophy. His books include Causation: A User’s Guide, co-authored with L. A. Paul (2013). Hall served for five years as the faculty chair of Harvard’s Standing Committee on General Education and in 2019 was named a Harvard College Professor in recognition of his commitment to research and transformative teaching.

Themes and Presenters

(subject to change)

​Rethinking the “History of Philosophy” Course

Presenter to be announced.

Meghan Sullivan headshotPhilosophy and the Good Life

Meghan Sullivan is Wilsey Family College Professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Notre Dame Institute of Advanced Study. She is author of Time Biases: A Theory of Rational Planning and Personal Persistence (2018) and God and the Good Life with Paul Blaschko (2022).

Eric Swanson headshotMinds and Machines

Eric Swanson is professor of philosophy and linguistics at the University of Michigan, where he teaches the popular “Minds and Machines” course, and faculty affiliate at the university’s Weinberg Institute for Cognitive Science. He has written widely on the interfaces between language and epistemology, language and metaphysics, and language and ethics.

Ron Sundstrom headshotNarratives of Freedom and Justice

Ronald R. Sundstrom is professor of philosophy at the University of San Francisco, where he also teaches in the African American Studies program and the Honors College. His research embraces philosophy of race, mixed-race identity and politics, political and social philosophy, justice and ethics in urban policy, and African American and Asian American philosophy. He is the author of The Browning of America and The Evasion of Social Justice (2008) and Just Shelter: Integration, Gentrification, and Racial Equality (forthcoming).

Mara Harrell headshotArgument Mapping in the Philosophy Classroom

Mara Harrell is teaching professor of philosophy at the University of California San Diego. She specializes in philosophy of science, philosophy of physics, epistemology, and the use of technology to teach philosophy. She is the author of What Is the Argument? An Introduction to Philosophical Argument and Analysis (2016) and received the 2018 Prize for Excellence in Philosophy Teaching, presented jointly by the three leading national philosophy associations.

Building a Vibrant Philosophy Program

John Rudisill, associate professor of philosophy and former department chair, and Elizabeth Schiltz, Raju Chair of East-West Philosophy, The College of Wooster. Rudisill is author of "The Transition From Studying Philosophy to Doing Philosophy," which provided a blueprint for transforming the philosophy curriculum and pedagogy at Wooster.

Location and Expenses

The 2022 Institute will be held at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, Maryland. Lodging, most meals, and other expenses will be covered by CIC and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Participants or their institutions will be expected to provide transportation to and from Baltimore, although CIC will provide participants with a stipend of up to $250 to be used toward travel-related expenses.

How to Submit a Nomination

​Guidelines

Up to 30 participants will be selected by competitive nomination. Nominees must be full-time, ongoing faculty members in philosophy (or a closely-related program) to assure that their institutions will continue to benefit from the content of the Institute for the foreseeable future. Faculty members of all academic ranks are eligible to participate.

Faculty members must be nominated by an institution's chief academic officer. Each institution can nominate one faculty member—as long as no one from the institution already participated in the 2021 Institute. Nominating institutions must be members of CIC in good standing.

Please assemble all of the materials below before submitting a nomination through the online portal. A complete nomination packages should be submitted as one document in PDF format. The nomination package includes:

  1. A nomination letter from the chief academic officer explaining how the institution’s teaching of philosophy will benefit from the nominee’s participation in the Institute.

  2. The nominee’s statement of interest, describing why they want to participate in the Institute. The statement should be no longer than two pages and address:
    • current challenges facing the institution’s philosophy program;
    • opportunities to strengthen the philosophy program; and
    • the expected impact of the Institute on the development of new courses, revision of existing courses, or any other aspect of the philosophy curriculum.
  3. The nominee’s curriculum vitae (the "short version" is preferred).


Nomination Deadline

Please submit nomination materials online by January 21, 2022. The selected participants will be notified by March 2022. New Currents in Teaching Philosophy will be offered again in 2023.

Contact Information

​For questions about the Institute or nomination process, contact Philip M. Katz, director of projects, Council of Independent Colleges, at (202) 466-7230 or pkatz@cic.edu.

Additional Resources for Philosophy Instructors

​On July 27, 2020, CIC hosted a special webinar—"Teaching Philosophy in Troubled Times"—for faculty members who were nominated to participate in the inaugural Institute. A recording of the webinar is  available. During the webinar, Ned Hall (Harvard University) discusses the unique challenges and enduring value of studying philosophy in times of crisis. Meghan Sullivan (University of Notre Dame) describes the evolution of Notre Dame’s innovative "God and the Good Life" course. And Paul Blaschko (University of Notre Dame) offers a practical workshop on designing or transforming philosophy courses for an online or hybrid format—with a focus on engaging students and making the best use of digital technologies. The webinar will be useful to faculty members in many liberal arts disciplines, not just philosophy.