Newsletter Winter 2012 From the Chair

From the Chair

Each school year starts with a buzz of excitement as students and faculty return to campus and classes begin. But this year in the department there was something extra in the air: for the first time in several years since the recession began we welcomed what we think of as a "normal-sized" entering class of graduate students. Six students from all over the country arrived in Savery Hall ready to begin their careers at the UW. They didn't have too much time to adjust. After a brief orientation they began their seminars and work as teaching assistants. They joined a cohort of about thirty graduate students at all stages of their studies. Some are working on seminar papers and mastering logic; others are completing dissertations and looking for jobs. The graduate program is central to our department and we are working together to find ways to sustain and improve it.

Our faculty not only taught a great range of courses last quarter, many of them were busy sharing their research with the public, both in and outside of the UW. Here are two examples. Alison Wylie has partnered with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Simpson Center for the Humanities to sponsor an initiative, "Biological Futures in a Globalized World," that focuses on research ethics in non-medical sciences. Steve Gardiner has literally been all over the world in the past six months talking about his research on the ethics of climate change. Just a few weeks ago, he was in Durban, South Africa, at the UN Global Climate Conference.

We also strive to make our own department a hub of intellectual exchange. We invited four scholars to give talks in the department last quarter on topics as diverse as epistemic agency and the structure of a scientific theory. Earlier this quarter, the graduate students have organized a conference on the theme of moral responsibility with a keynote faculty speaker, and papers delivered by a select group of their peers from other institutions. The history of philosophy will also be represented. And, we have a whole range of exciting events coming up for the remainder of the academic year. I have organized a symposium on March 2-3, in which several prominent scholars will address various aspects of the seventeenth century philosopher, Benedict Spinoza. In April we will have the Rabinowitz Symposium on Medical Ethics. And in May we will continue our collaboration with the University of Frankfurt and host a conference on "Cosmopolitan Rights and Responsibilities." We hope that you will join us for these exciting events.

We are doing so much both in the classroom and outside of it. The challenge is to communicate it all to you and others who may be interested. This electronic newsletter is one means. We are in the process of redesigning our website so that students, other faculty, and the larger public can discover more easily all the riches that our department has to offer. More than anything we need you to spread the word. We invite you to join, support, and develop the community that is the Department of Philosophy at the UW.

Thank you all for your support during 2011.

Michael Rosenthal


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