With springtime in Waterloo has come not only an ice storm and several episodes of thunderhail but also awards of distinction.
A big congratulations to Katie Plaisance, who has received a 2016 Distinguished Teacher Award! The University’s announcement in the Daily Bulletin notes that Katie “has had a transformative impact on her colleagues,” and it quotes one of her colleagues as saying, “Her pedagogy is rigorous and exciting at the same time. She is rapidly emerging as one of UWaterloo’s leading exemplars in teaching.” Congratulations, Katie!
In February we announced that Waterloo Philosophy was the first Humanities department to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with Mitacs to allow our students to hold research placements outside academia, partly funded by a partner organization and partly by Mitacs. During these placements, students will be applying their philosophical knowledge and skills to practical problems. The Mitacs press release announcing the agreement can be found here.
An exciting development is that we have just received word of a project proposal successfully passing through the Mitacs peer review process. Chris Lowry will serve as academic supervisor for the first Mitacs internship held by one of our students as part of this MoA. Catherine Klausen, a first year PhD student, will take up a placement at Facilitation Wellington Dufferin beginning May 1. The project is called “Developmental Disability, Independent Facilitation, and Citizenship,” and the abstract indicates that one of the main goals of the project will be to make progress on this problem: “Increasingly, organizations supporting people with disabilities…describe their activities in terms of *citizenship goals*, e.g., promotion of *social inclusion*, *control over one’s own life*, etc. The key concepts…are philosophically disputed, raising a “measurement problem”—what would even count as evidence of success? Certainly, the existing evaluation tools, which were designed for services when the goals were conceived differently, do not measure it.” Way to go, Catherine and Chris!
The Faculty of Arts featured Peter Blouw in its Arts Research and Graduate Stories. The piece quotes Peter describing his motivation for studying language and language learning, giving an account of his doctoral research, highlighting a standout moment in his academic career thus far, and making plans for the future.
Similarly, the March 2016 issue of Inside Arts features Chris Lowry. He answers questions such as, “If you were telling someone from away about your department, what would you want to say about it first?” Chris describes a popular course, PHIL 202: “Gender Issues,” offered by Shannon Dea, he shares stories from our lunch room, and he tells us what he likes about living and working in Kitchener-Waterloo.
On March 18 & 19, our department held the 23rd annual conference of the Philosophy Graduate Student Association. It included presentations by students from across North America and even as far away as the University of Melbourne. Our own Vanessa Lam gave a paper, “The Future of Business Ethics Research,” and Kristie Dotson of Michigan State University gave the keynote, “A Road to Oblivion: Epistemological Problems & the Importance of #BlackLivesMatter.”
Paul Thagard has given several recent talks, including “Brain Mechanisms Explain Emotions and Consciousness” at Emory University and SUNY-Buffalo, and he presented at the Eastern Sociological Society in Boston at a mini-conference on cultural cognition.
Sara Weaver shares her news: “With the help of a SSHRC Canadian Graduate Scholarship-Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement, I was able to spend just under three months this past fall writing my thesis under the supervision of Dr. John Dupré at the University of Exeter in England. The trip proved immensely productive as Dr. Dupré was so motivating to work with, and it was such a treat to be able to take part in the activities at Egenis (the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences which I was visiting). I was welcome to attend everything from seminars to guest lectures, to the conference on symbiosis they hosted in November. It was such a great opportunity. I would really encourage other CGS SSHRC holders, present and future, to seriously consider applying for the MSFSS if you can!”
Sara also gave a talk, “Feminist Philosophy of Biology: Let’s Keep it Coming,” at the year-end event for FemPhys, which is a group for undergraduate women in physics. The talk reflected a paper that she and Carla Fehr are currently working on that addresses, from a feminist philosophy of biology standpoint, some very problematic research in neuroscience and evolutionary studies on humans.
The Value Theory Group has taken a turn towards constructivism. Nathan Haydon relates, “We are currently working through G.A. Cohen’s response to Rawls in Rescuing Justice and Equality. Exciting times indeed…”
Andria Bianchi presented at Western Michigan University’s bioethics conference on “Bioethics: Preparing for the Unknown.” She also just published a paper in Healthcare Quarterly called “Micro Data: Wearable Devices Contribution to Improved Chronic Disease Management,” co-authored with a Toronto healthcare ethicist.