2015-16 was an eventful year around the Department of Philosophy, and 2016-17 has opened with a celebration of dance and dance scholarship, as we were co-hosts for Engagement, a three-day symposium of Philosophy and Dance – the first of its kind in North America. Together with the Division of Dance we welcomed three dance companies and over 75 scholars from around the world. The executive director of the American Society for Aesthetics noted that we “set a very high standard for such endeavors in the future,” and “demonstrated the truly interdisciplinary potential of this type of project.” We also open the year by co-sponsoring the university’s annual observances of Constitution Day, and by co-sponsoring a symposium on Space Settlement.
In May 2016 we completed our 2-year process of Academic Program Review, which that included a departmental self-study, a visit by an external review team, and an evaluation report from the team. It was an opportunity to think about what we do well, and what we might do better, to individually and collectively engage in the quintessential philosophical activity of self-reflection. What did we learn? We learned that we are in very good-shape, with a talented faculty committed to excellence in teaching and research, wonderful students, strong connections to the profession and across the university, exceptional staff support, and strong support throughout the university administration. The review team noted,
“Texas State demonstrates seriousness of purpose by including philosophy in its core curriculum, as do very prestigious universities such as the University of Chicago, Princeton, and Georgetown. Besides teaching the advantages of the examined life, philosophy structures students’ thinking in productive ways, improves their writing and reading abilities, enables them to recognize flawed arguments, encourages them to ask good questions, and fosters a sense of humility.”
We continue to grow, opening the year with eight new members of the faculty! Lori Gallegos de Castillo (Stony Brook University), Keisha Ray (Utah), Vaughn Baltzly (Maryland), Amy Pommerening (Purdue), and Anthony Cross (Princeton) all join us as fulltime continuing faculty, and bring expertise including bioethics, moral psychology, Latin American philosophy, African American philosophy, aesthetics, political philosophy, and Ancient Indian philosophy. We also welcome three recent graduates of our MAAPE program as MA-Lecturers: Blake Edwards, Quique Montemayor, and Travis Stockton. This fall we have 48 faculty members teaching in the department, 45 of us teaching face-to-face on-campus. As we learned in our self-study, we teach philosophy to over 11,000 students each year, more than UT-Austin and TAMU combined.
This year, we have expanded opportunities for students and faculty. The Dialogue Series is cooperating more closely with the Common Experience, and will host over 80 events in the fall semester. We plan to host symposia in Spring 2017 on Philosophy of Food, Philosophy of Technology and Philosophy of Nonviolence, as well as our annual student symposia. We will send teams to Ethics Bowl and International Business Ethics Case Competitions, and plan to again bring home awards! We are the new home for The Acorn, an important journal dedicated to the study of pacifism and nonviolence. We also host two student journals Phiction and Texas Philosophical, each of which is entering new phases of productivity and growth. And, we continue our work toward offering a BA in Religious Studies.
As you might imagine, with dozens of philosophers around, there is more! We invite you to join us – visit the campus, attend a dialogue, or check-out the website. The growth and the success of the department has always been guided by the interests and efforts of you, our students and alumni. You can look forward to hearing from us more often, and we welcome your questions, suggestions, feedback, and comments. Thank you for your support.