The Department of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota is fully committed to supporting and maintaining a collegial and safe environment for faculty, staff, students, and visitors regardless of their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, nationality, religious beliefs, or socioeconomic background. We wholeheartedly endorse the mission of the University's Office for Equality and Diversity and we join them in refusing to tolerate discriminatory behavior in any shape or form.
Our department has a long history of supporting gender diversity.
- Alice Mott, the first woman to earn a PhD from our department, defended her dissertation in 1899—65 years before Princeton University admitted their first woman PhD student, Sandra Peterson, who eventually became a philosophy professor in our department.
- In the late 1960s, before many departments had any women faculty, May Brodbeck served as our department chair.
- In 2017, inspired by our history and moved by the renewed attention to gender diversity and by the growing awareness of the importance of other kinds of diversity, the department committed itself to contributing to progress on diversity and inclusiveness in philosophy.
Toward this end, we began with a visit from the American Philosophical Association's Committee on the Status of Women. We have worked to follow their recommendations and we have started numerous other initiatives, including
- Affirming our long-standing diversity committee.
- Starting a chapter of Minorities and Philosophy (MAP).
- Starting the first National High School Ethics Bowl competition in Minnesota to promote philosophy in high schools that serve underrepresented groups.
- Hosting a workshop on inclusive pedagogy.
- Connecting employees with training on implicit bias and preventing sexual misconduct.
- Compiling resources for diversifying syllabi.
- Regularly hosting diversity-themed discussion groups for faculty and graduate students.
- Encouraging scholarship on philosophers who are often excluded from the canon.
Learn more about the steps we have taken to create an inclusive environment and to promote diversity within the profession. We are proud of our efforts, and we are also aware that there's always more to be done.
We had an excellent experience with the American Philosophical Association’s site visit team. They helped us identify problems that were unknown to senior faculty. For example, we learned that our women graduate students found our colloquium talks and works-in-progress discussions unproductive and unpleasant. The site visit team made concrete suggestions such as appointing a moderator to reign in monopolizers and make sure everyone is able to participate. Following suggestions like these improved our meetings and improved morale.
The diversity committee includes graduate student and faculty members and has been one of our standing committees for over 20 years. The charge of the committee is to recommend as needed changes in policies that affect the committee’s work; investigates and recommends policies and activities that make our department hospitable to diversity in its curriculum, faculty, and students.
MAP is a collection of students in philosophy departments that aims to examine and address issues of minority participation in academic philosophy. Though primarily led by graduate students, MAP also relies on faculty support and encourages undergraduate participation. Currently, MAP has 132 chapters throughout the world.
We launched Minnesota's MAP chapter in 2018. We hosted two social events and began a reading group on Kate Manne’s book Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny.
In 2019-20, we launched Minnesota’s first-ever regional ethics bowl.
Regional ethics bowls around the country are part of the National High School Ethics Bowl competition. These annual competitions provide a supportive, respectful environment that prepares high school students for the intellectual rigors of a college education while giving them the opportunity to think carefully (and philosophically!) about meaningful questions.
The ethics bowl season starts when the year's case studies are released in late September or early October. You have time to read through the cases, learn about ethics, and develop your views so that you're ready to defend them at the regional competition in February. During the match, your team will be given one of the case studies you’ve been preparing. You'll present your view as a team and respond to questions from both the other team and the judges. Points are awarded for clarity of discussion, quality of ethical analysis, consideration of alternative viewpoints, and respectful competition. Depending on the size of our competition, the winning team will either advance to Nationals directly or face off in a digital playoff against another team.
Interested in learning more about ethics bowl, participating, or lending a hand? Email the UMN Ethics Bowl leaders!
We hosted a one-day workshop on inclusive pedagogy led by two experts from the American Association of Philosophy Teachers. Participants read some of the best literature regarding how learning happens, how to design maximally effective courses, and how to improve classroom practice with a special emphasis on inclusive pedagogy. The workshop was designed to enhance participants’ ability to make highly effective pedagogical choices that enable all students to flourish. The interactive sessions provided opportunities for participants to reflect with colleagues on how to individualize evidence-based best practices for teaching to their own idiosyncratic teaching contexts and their own understanding about what matters most for inclusive pedagogy. Participants learned how to identify and select challenging, transformative, and inclusive learning objectives and how to design and assess sequences of learning activities to make the achievement of those goals highly likely. We highly recommend APPT workshops to other departments that are in a position to host one in their community; the workshop was very informative and fun!
The University of Minnesota sponsors training sessions about implicit bias for members of the University community. Our department chair and all four of the faculty on our recent search committee have taken this training.
Preventing Sexual Misconduct
Preventing sexual misconduct—sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, and relationship violence—is everyone’s shared responsibility. In spring 2017, the University of Minnesota launched the President's Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct. A key element of this initiative is required training for all faculty, graduate student instructors, and staff. “This mandatory training provides faculty and staff with tools to respond compassionately and seriously when they learn that a University community member has experienced sexual misconduct. It also explains their obligation to report possible sexual misconduct to their campus Title IX office.”
In making diversity a core value, the University of Minnesota recognizes that its campuses flourish only when all students, staff, faculty, and external supporters have a community in which they can grow and thrive. The University’s access and diversity goals, values, and practices are fully interconnected, and the Office for Equity and Diversity (OED) comprises offices that work together—and in collaboration with faculty, staff, students, and administrators—to educate and serve all members of the University community.
- Office for Equity and Diversity
- Graduate School Diversity Office
- Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence
- Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life
- Disability Resource Center
- International Student Office
- Improving Campus Climate
University disciplines have historically lacked diversity, and philosophy has been slower than most to catch up. With the help of graduate students like Grace Cebrero, Minorities and Philosophy (MAP) creates a space for students of underrepresented backgrounds to address topics surrounding diversity in philosophy.
By drawing attention to the influential works of the women in philosophy, UMN educators take down the age-old standard and open the discipline of philosophy to a more diverse community of both thinkers and readers.