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Message from the new Chair of Philosophy, Peter Hanks, about the George Floyd protests and the pandemic

August 21, 2020

Like many of you, I am angry and depressed about the murder of George Floyd. The systems of racist oppression in our city and nation must end. The Department of Philosophy supports the protestors, and we join their voices in demanding justice and an end to systemic racism. Although we are just a group of academic philosophers, we hope that we can play some part in these efforts. Philosophy has long been dominated by white men, and it remains one of the least diverse fields in academia. Our colleague, Valerie Tiberius, made it a centerpiece of her tenure as chair to promote diversity initiatives aimed at increasing the representation of minorities and women at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels. We have also been working to diversify our syllabi and course offerings in order to include voices and ideas that have been traditionally excluded from the philosophical canon. As the new chair, I pledge to continue these efforts. We are committed to increasing diversity in philosophy, and we strive to make our teaching and research welcoming and inclusive. We believe that philosophy is for everyone.

I would also like to emphasize that I am acutely aware that we are still in the grip of a pandemic. It is likely that there will be a resurgence of infections at some point in the summer or fall. I want everyone to know that the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is foremost in our minds as the department makes plans for the future. This is still a time of enormous uncertainty. We will do our best to make decisions that will minimize health risks and provide safe and productive learning environments for all of our students and instructors.

It is an honor to be the new chair. I look forward to leading such an excellent group of teachers and scholars as we work together to improve our service to our students and the state of Minnesota.

Peter Hanks