Philosophy Diversity Inventory
Contributions to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion 2016-2018
Western academic philosophy and before that, western philosophy beginning in the ancient world has largely had white male practitioners who spoke and wrote to other white males. Beginning in the 1970s, there has been a counter-trend in professional academic philosophy, led by individual scholars, with support from the American Philosophical Association. Studies in Feminism, LGBT issues, race, ethnicity, Latin American Philosophy, Asian American Philosophy, and Disability have entered the profession as an integral part of recognized scholarly work, as well as demographic difference represented by women and people of color. The University of Oregon Philosophy Department has over the past twenty years affirmed this new intellectual and demographic inclusivity as a core element in all aspects of our work, goals, and daily functioning. The “diversity inventory” that follows, here, merely highlights some of these achievements and efforts.
We are a diverse faculty in terms of ethnic background, gender, and nationality, with a majority of women in departmental leadership positions, which is not typical in our discipline. Our faculty has been considering equity, diversity, and inclusion in their research, in teaching, and in committee-work and we have the reputation of being a leading pluralist department representing multiple traditions that strives to expand the curriculum beyond its traditional borders. Our faculty actively publishes not only in areas that are more traditional but also in feminism, Latin American and decolonial philosophy, philosophy of race, environmental philosophy, and indigenous philosophies.
Generally, faculty takes diversity into account both in their approach to teaching (in the effort to be equitable and inclusive) and in expanding the traditional canon by including feminist and minority perspectives and non-Western approaches in their approach to various topics and by offering courses in feminism, philosophy of race, Indigenous and non-Western philosophies. Among a new introductory course we will be offering in the future is a course in world-philosophies.
Our faculty keeps diversity in mind in its committee work, in hiring and graduate student recruitment efforts. We recently hired an African-American philosopher specializing in critical philosophy of race and faculty actively considered diversity in a search for a position in Environmental Philosophy.
In our Colloquium series we also have been mindful of having diverse speakers addressing diversity related topics such as decolonial philosophy, feminism, and philosophy or race.
Last year, our diversity committee chair initiated and lead the creation of an (optional) Diversity Focus both for undergraduate and graduate students that is taking effect this academic year and that requires student to take diversity related courses and attend diversity related events on campus. We created a weblink in our departmental website dedicated to diversity that has information not only on the Diversity Focus but also about other diversity related activities and resources: https://philosophy.uoregon.edu/diversity/. We participated at the poster session organized by the Division of Equity and Inclusion featuring our new Diversity Focus and won a prize for our poster.
Last year we also started a reading group in disability studies and organized a workshop with Eli Claire, a leading figure in disability studies.
A major new event this academic year is that the leading feminist philosophy journal Hypatia moved to the University of Oregon. (More information can be found here: https://philosophy.uoregon.edu/2018/08/24/new-editorial-team-chosen-for-hypatia/) Four of our faculty members jointly took on the editorship of the journal and two graduate students work for the journal as well.
We have two staff people from different racial and ethnic background who strive to be welcoming and helpful to our diverse student body’s and faculty’s needs and provide any special accommodations faculty or students might need.
- Graduate Program
Graduate students entering our program are from diverse background, open to a pluralist approach to philosophy, and often interested in diverse subjects such as feminist, indigenous, and non-western and cross-cultural philosophies, gender, and race issues. We also have been able to maintain a gender balance in our graduate student population over a decade.
This year we received 144 applications for 5 PhD spots. We are extremely competitive nationally in the areas in which our program excels: Continental Philosophy, Feminist Philosophy, American and Latin American Philosophy, Philosophy of Race/Ethnicity, and Environmental Philosophy. Because of our not only national but also international reputation in these areas, we attract a more diverse groups of applicants than might be found in a more traditional program, and we are very successful in transforming those applications into diverse graduate student body that is diverse in terms of gender, ethnic, and national background.
- Undergraduate Programs
Our undergraduate studies director and committee have placed considerable effort in diversifying the undergraduate student population and in promoting interest in issues of diversity and inclusiveness. We successfully promoted the diversification of the undergraduate philosophy club, we alert undergraduate students to diversity related events, and invite speakers who promote diversity in philosophy. We expose students to issues of diversity both in our classes and through public lectures. The most recent speaker for our annual undergraduate philosophy talk was Lewis Gordon an American philosopher who works in the area of Africana philosophy; This year’s undergraduate speaker is Melvin Rogers speaking in surviving in the face of white supremacy.
We offer an undergraduate curriculum that goes beyond traditional subjects and includes courses in feminism, indigenous philosophies, Latin American philosophy, philosophy of race, environmental philosophy, global justice, and (starting next year) world-philosophies. Our ethics minor has been very successful in terms of enrollment and courses offered in the minor engage students in actively reflecting on ethical issues arising in the present-day global and diverse world.
- Outreach and Partnership
Our Community Philosophy Institute provides opportunities to organize events and conversations between philosophers and various sectors of the community, these have included groups such as medical professionals, “workers” (business community), and the homeless. Upcoming plans include CPI events focused on veterans and the Native American community.
- Additionally, we maintain a department-specific “Committee on Diversity and Inclusion” which regularly reflects on department policy and practices, organizes events and workshops, and updates and implements the department’s strategic diversity action plan.
- University Service:
Currently, there are two staff persons in our office. Our Office Manager serves on the Department Diversity Committee and one Office Specialist is the acting liaison for the classified bargaining union and employees on unpaid leave.
- Departmental Contributions:
The Office staff has contributed extensive time and effort to diversity work on campus and in the community by working diligently with coordinators to ensure that our events have been inclusive and supportive and inviting guests who work and live in diverse areas. Staff have recently promoted a number of events within the Department and across campus, which have addressed diversity: Transgender issues, Homelessness in our community, Women in Philosophy, Latina Feminist Philosophy, Transamerican Philosophy, and Native American issues. In particular, they have provided support for symposia about Islam and Feminism, Environmental Justice, Migration, The American Philosophical Institute, and colloquia speakers. Staff has also been active in supporting accessibility changes in the Department and becoming knowledgeable about specific accommodations through trainings.
The staff has promoted and put into place extensive measures to help make our International travelers and visitors feel welcome and to make sure their travel arrangements are as smooth as possible as it relates to the University of Oregon’s “Foreign” visitors policies, procedures, and paperwork. As a team, the staff is determined to help as much as possible those students, visitors, and guests with their questions and processes while they work to get here.
Especially the office manager worked on extensive department renovations to address accommodation issues.
- Professional Development and Training:
Last year, faculty and staff participated in meeting with representative from Epileptic Society and ADA office for training on seizures.