New conference to focus on lack of diversity in philosophy departments


Newswise — BINGHAMTON, NY -- Representatives from more than 20 universities across the country will discuss the lack of women and minority representation in the field of philosophy. The Diversity in Philosophy Departments session takes place from 1-4 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at the Westin Bayshore Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia as part of the American Philosophical Association’s Pacific Division Meeting.

Nicole Hassoun, a professor of philosophy at Binghamton University, State University of New York, is a speaker at the event and helped organize the Diversity in Philosophy Departments session which aims to diversify the discipline by building coalitions, raising awareness for the issue and creating a database of best practices to aid philosophy departments across the United States. Hassoun said the event provides a great platform to discuss a relevant yet overlooked issue.

“It’s a chance for people to get together and discuss how we can make the discipline a better place,” said Hassoun. “I think it’s a timely issue and one more people should pay attention to.”

The session will start with a brief presentation on diversity in philosophy departments and lead into open discussion with a panel of representatives from well-regarded philosophy departments across the United States, including Columbia University, Princeton University, Stanford University, Villanova University, University of Oregon and Binghamton University. Hassoun said organizers wanted to include a diverse range of the country’s best philosophy programs to get new perspectives.

“We wanted to get a wide range of institutions, the public and privates, small and large,” she said. “We wanted to get some of the most prestigious programs in the field so that hopefully other people will follow along.”

After the session, Hassoun hopes to partner with departments to collect more data on what works to improve diversity and to develop a toolbox of helpful practices.

The Diversity in Philosophy Departments session is part of the initiative for the Demographics in Philosophy Project, which collects data to document the problem of marginalization in professional philosophy while identifying tools to counteract it. The project was created in 2018 by Hassoun and a group of professors and students to draw attention to the underrepresentation of women in philosophy by ranking university philosophy departments and academic journals by gender representation. Since then the project has evolved to include all aspects of diversity, like gender, race and identity.

The project aims to identify inclusive practices for philosophy journals by hosting a session on inclusive practices at the Pacific Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association (APA), creating a series of blog posts from editors of leading journals and culminating with a list of potential best practices. Hassoun said she hopes the project will inspire people to transform the philosophy field.

“The hope is to encourage people to do things that would make a difference,” she said.  

For more information on the event, go online here.

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