There is no question that 2020-21 will be different. Though the world around us has changed, the philosophy department is especially committed to providing our students with the highest quality of instruction. All philosophy classes will be available remotely and we will all miss connecting ‘in-person.’ But we will do our best to make our classes an excellent learning experience. Discussion and debate are at the heart of philosophy and we will continue to make this happen. All courses in philosophy will ensure that students have time to interact ‘live’ or in ‘real-time’ with the instructor and with each other.
All philosophy courses will meet the UTSC Remote Guarantee – while also making ‘live’ interaction possible. This means that in philosophy, all of our courses will have a synchronous component so that students can interact with the professor and with each other in real time or ‘live.’ Some courses will be conducted completely synchronously. Some courses will mix an asynchronous component – a recorded component that students can watch anytime – with a synchronous component where students can ask questions and discuss ‘live.’ Of course, all synchronous classes will be recorded and posted on the internet (for a limited time) to allow students in other time zones to watch them if they cannot participate.
Our aim is always to make philosophical issues come to life in our courses while students learn key skills: how to think critically and analytically about difficult questions that cannot be studied experimentally; how to construct and assess arguments; and how to write clear and incisive essays. Throughout the summer, philosophy faculty are working on how to communicate the material in their courses ‘remotely’ and how to ensure the best student learning experience. We will be trying out various methods – such as using small break out groups to allow students to meet and work together on problems – and we will use the first class of each course to explain how the course will work. We are also adding tutorials to courses that did not have them previously – PHLB05, B07 and B81 – so that students have more opportunity for ‘live’ discussion in our larger classes.
We are thrilled to be continuing with two new initiatives – the second year of our minor in Biomedical Ethics and the third year of our Socrates Project! In addition, we are starting a small trial for a Biomedical Ethics Socrates Project, which we hope to launch fully next year. Our PHLA11F Introduction to Ethics course will be a little different this fall, with two instructors – Professor Julia Nefsky and Steve Coyne – joining forces to make the course even more interesting. Please check out the ‘introductory skit’ they have posted on our website (along with more serious course information).
Please look at our course listings for the new contents or new ‘angles’ that our faculty are adding to our courses. Here are just a few examples. Our ‘new-ish’ faculty member Professor Christian Pfeiffer will be in his second full year with us, reshaping our courses in Ancient Philosophy. Professor Julia Nefsky will be teaching her new course in Environmental Ethics, introduced just last year, and Professor Wilson will continue to explore nonwestern philosophies. We are very happy to welcome back all three of our very popular instructors. Mark Fortney will be spending a third year with us, in charge of The Socrates Project program for a second year and teaching a very innovative course that explores our ideas of mental health and disorder (under the course code PHLC89 Topics in Analytic Philosophy). Rachel Bryant will take the helm of our third year Kant course. Elliot Carter will offer a variety of innovative courses across philosophy of mind and of knowledge, including our 4th year seminar in theory of knowledge.
Last but not least, the Association of Philosophy Students is planning to stay active with on-line events that will be listed on the departmental website.
Please continue to check out the news and initiatives on our website, which we will be updating throughout August with short videos from our faculty.
Please note that due to the COVID 19 pandemic, department offices are presently closed until further notice. Circumstances permitting, you will be able to schedule an in-person appointment if needed in the fall. Please feel welcome to email Jason Ferreira, our departmental administrator with questions. We are in the process of hiring an administrative assistant who will join us early in the fall semester and will then also be available to answer questions over email.