Messages from the Chair

Messages from the Chair

Welcome

Welcome to the Philosophy Department at UTSC.  We are a small inclusive department where faculty and students get to know each other.  Our faculty are passionate teachers who bring their cutting-edge, internationally known research to their courses. 

And welcome back after the hardships of Covid!  As we hope to emerge from restrictions in the 2021-22 academic year, we cannot wait to reconnect with students. 

Studying philosophy is important because philosophical issues are at the heart of the problems we all confront – about freedom, value, the nature of knowledge or the relationship between what we experience and scientific explanations of reality. Philosophy teaches us how to analyze, reason and provide clear arguments about these hard questions and myriad others. That is why a major or specialist degree in philosophy provides outstanding preparation for any post-graduate direction that a student might take – from business to work in health or media or education or government.  The foundational nature of philosophy courses – in Ethics, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Science, Logic and Metaphysics – makes philosophy a terrific double major with any other discipline, for example Political Science, Management, Psychology, Health Studies and Biology to name only a few.  All of our courses teach students how to write clear essays and to discuss or argue orally. 

At a time when some say we are “post-truth,” the philosophy department focuses firmly on developing skills for evidence-based and reasoned argumentation and debate.

Please browse through the courses we offer – from Philosophy of Art and Environmental Ethics, to Ancient Philosophy and Existentialism – to get a sense of what you might study.  In addition to the Specialist, Major and Minor programs in philosophy we offer a Biomedical Ethics Minor. We offer a fourth year Experiential Learning Socrates Project in which students undertake a research project and teach in our Introductory Philosophy and Biomedical Ethics courses. Last but not least, our award-winning Association of Philosophy Students provides a fun community that hosts events throughout the year with an undergraduate conference in the spring. Please come out and become involved!

Sonia Sedivy

Professor & Chair

 

Update from the Chair, 22.07.2021

We are keenly looking forward to reconnecting in-person this fall.  Students, faculty and staff have all suffered through an entire academic year of restrictions and exclusively on-line interaction.  As chair, I am extremely grateful and proud of all of the effort and patience it took – from students, faculty and staff – to keep philosophy alive and vibrant.  Our faculty made a tremendous effort to adjust our classes to on-line delivery, our students responded with the good will and extremely hard work required for an entirely on-line education, and our administrative staff went the extra mile and beyond to facilitate the new working conditions for everyone.  One important measure of everyone’s effort and patience is that our program weathered the Covid storm with increasing enrollments in 2020-21 and projected for 2021-22!

We have a mixture of happy and sad news.

Last year was indelibly marked by the tragic early death of Professor Waheed Hussain in January 2021.  We are committed to keeping his inspired work in political philosophy alive with our students.  We also have to bid farewell to Professor Karolina Hubner, who moved to the United States to Cornell University and to Professor William Seager, who will be retiring at the end of this year.

In happier news, Professor Julia Nefsky was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure and Professor Sonia Sedivy was promoted to Professor.  Hamish Russell received the UTSC Outstanding Teaching Award in Unit 1 for his superb and innovative teaching in Political Philosophy. 

With loss comes renewal, and we are looking forward to searching in three positions this coming year.  We will be hiring in philosophy of mind and in political philosophy, and we will be continuing our search in Ethics with a focus in Biomedical Ethics. 

We will have an outstanding group of Assistant Professors in the Teaching Stream offering a wide variety of new content in our established courses: Michael Blezy, Rachel Bryant, Douglas Campbell, Elliot Carter and Hamish RussellJoshua Brandt will continue to provide inspiration at the helm of our Biomedical Ethics Minor Degree. 

With the continuing growth of our new Minor Degree in Biomedical Ethics, we have added a new stream in this area to the Socrates Project.  Students will now be able to gain experiential learning as teaching assistants and researchers in Biomedical Ethics.  This adds to the original Socrates Project in which students are teaching assistants in our two first year Introductory courses while researching in any area of philosophy of their choice.

Last but definitely not least, I would like to highlight our Association of Philosophy Students which received both the President Award & the Academic Advocacy Award from the Scarborough Campus Student Union.  At a time of need when we were all isolated and restricted to on-line interaction, our APS stepped up with the following activities.  They offered a writing clinic for undergraduate philosophy students; hosted 8 guest philosophy speakers to present their research; organized weekly discussions via Discord on various philosophy topics; established an active Instagram, Facebook, YouTube channel, Discord and website; implemented an APS Philosophy Blog; arranged a (very well-attended) UTSC Faculty Meet and Greet online for students; and actively participated in the Tri-campus Philosophy Undergraduate Research Conference.  A standing ovation to the wonderful executive team: Bisma Ali, Courtnee Cuenca, Syed Faateh Ali, Ravena Mohabir, Marybel Menzies, Lisha Manila, Andrew Daley, Josh Wilkinson. 

Sonia Sedivy

Professor & Chair