Saturday, December 19, 2015

Recruiting Philosophy Majors

One of my favorite things to do at the end of the semester involves sending emails to those particularly excellent students I had in class and trying to recruit them to the Philosophy major.  I don't think I tell students often enough during the regular term that they're doing good work, or that they have real talent, or that I'm genuinely impressed-- I'm working on that!-- but I really do try to make a point of doing so after I finish grading and before we all go on break for the holidays or the summer.  The Philosophy major is not always an easy sell, even to students who have a talent for it and are predisposed to love it, for a number of (cultural, social, economic, et al) reasons.  It often takes just a little push, a professorially-sanctioned hey-you're-really-good-at-this confirmation, the relay of a few helpful details that prospective majors might take home to reassure Mom and Dad that they won't just be serving "fries with that" after all, in order to make it possible for talented Philosophy students to see the major as a real possibility.  So, at the end of each semester, I send an email.

Those of you who know me will know that OF COURSE I HAVE A TEMPLATE ALREADY for these Philosophy-major-recruitment emails. And, since several hundred of you downloaded my "Recommendation Letter Form" (a super-time-saving template for writing rec letters), I'm going to assume these things are useful.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Technology and Human Values

If this were a post on Buzzfeed or Upworthy or some other such listicle-driven site, the thumbnail caption would read: "You won't BELIEVE the AMAZING things these COLLEGE STUDENTS did in their PHILOSOPHY class! Check it out!"

That would be a 100% true description, but I will attempt to be more measured in what follows.

This semester, I assigned what I called a "Technology and Human Values" Final Project in two of my courses, which required students to devise a merely-possible technological solution to a real-world, "value-laden" (social, political, or moral) problem.  What they have generated is really, and in several cases unbelievably, impressive. So, I thought I might share the assignment, some background for why I designed it, and a few examples of students' work. You're more than welcome to steal it (though not the students' work, of course).

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Simply, Mark (In memory of Mark Behr, 1963-2015)

Simply, Mark
In memory of Mark Behr (1963-2015)

You, my friend, were not simple.

You will remain ever
in the memories of multitudes,
in the strength and resilience
of bruised and battered bodies and souls
of the broken, but yet defiantly,
proudly, unapologetically, uncompromisingly