1 March, 2018: Winter Update


As the spring begins to encroach on winter here in Waterloo, it is time for a late winter news update.

The department has hosted two talks so far this winter.  On January 10, Prof. Frank Zenker (Lund University) gave the talk “From Discovery to Justification: Outline of an Ideal Research Program in Empirical Psychology.”  Then, on January 19, Prof. Anjan Chakravarty (Notre Dame) gave a talk on “Scientific Disagreement:  Rationality and Uniqueness.” Both were well attended and much appreciated.

This Friday March 2, Prof. Govind Persad will be talking about “Authority without Identity: Defending advanced directives via posthumous rights over one’s body.”  Please join us!

On January 24, the Women’s Studies Program (which will officially be renamed the Gender and Social Justice Program in 2019) hosted an Alumni Career Panel. Seven alums, with graduation dates between 1995 and 2016, spoke with students and faculty about the value of their Women’s Studies degrees for their professional and personal lives. Indeed, while this event was designed to provide students some insight into how to translate and market social justice education for the workplace, many of the alums spoke about how their educations have benefitted their lives holistically–at home, in community work, interpersonally, and professionally.


Pictured:  Katy Fulfer, Susan Phillips, Mary Lou Roe, Ronda Lobsinger, Marianne Wylie, Kesseta Black, Alina Balzerson, and Safia Baccus

On February 16, Matt Doucet and Shannon Dea hosted Daniel Weinstock from McGill University’s Faculty of Law and Institute for Health and Social Policy for a day-long workshop on the philosophy of harm reduction – a new area of philosophy, in which Waterloo and McGill are leading the charge. Matt and Shannon, along with Waterloo grad students who are working on the philosophy of harm reduction, will head to McGill in the Fall for the next workshop in this emerging area.

Faculty and students have also been busy traveling and giving talks.

In early January, Teresa Branch-Smith attended Arizona State University’s 6th annual Winter School on Responsible Innovation and Social Studies of Emerging Technologies, held at Saguaro Lake Ranch, just outside Tempe. Graduate students, post-docs, and junior faculty explored the societal aspects of emerging technologies through theoretical framings, analytical tools, and lessons in responsible innovation, anticipatory governance, and real-time technology assessment. Teresa presented her research on “Values in Big Data Analytics,” which she pursued using the STIR methodology (developed at ASU).  About the experience, Teresa says: “The hands-on approach of the instructors, and enthusiasm of the collaborators, made it a dynamic learning environment set against the backdrop of desert sunsets and wild horses!”


Teresa in the Arizona desert.  Remember: Don’t touch the cacti!

Jackie Feke reports that she gave two invited talks over the past couple of months.  On January 10, she gave a talk as part of the Special Sessions on History of Mathematics at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, “the largest mathematics meeting in the world,” which took place in San Diego.  Her talk, “Ancient Greek Geographical Maps vs. Geometrical Diagrams,”  was given to a packed room, with about 100 mathematicians in attendance.

On February 9, Jackie gave a colloquium talk to the Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of Minnesota, entitled “Ptolemy’s Ethics.”  She reports that “the Program gave me a warm welcome, and about 50 historians were in attendance.”

Heather Douglas traveled in late January to the UK, first to speak at a workshop on “Scientific Governance at the Ground Level” at the University of Cambridge, and then to deliver the J.B.S. Haldane Lecture at UCL on January 31.   Her talk in Cambridge focused on “Governing Science for Responsible Research,” which centered on the challenges of cultivating responsibility within science, while her talk at UCL was about “How the Public can assess Expertise,” particularly without having to develop full expertise themselves.  The video for the Haldane Lecture is now available.


Heather in the lovely Oriel Room at Cambridge

Heather then traveled February 9-10 to the University of Michigan for an event organized and run entirely by graduate students there, the spring colloquium on Science, Values, and the Public, where she gave the talk “Scientific Experts and the Public: How to build trust in a complex world.”  She really enjoyed hearing the other talks and the excellent commentaries by the students.

Finally, she was in Chicago February 22 for the American Philosophical Association Central Division Meeting, providing comment in an author-meets-critics session on Kevin Elliott’s recent book, A Tapestry of Values: An Introduction to Values in Science (Oxford 2017).

Closer to home, on February 14, Shannon Dea participated in a book panel at University of Toronto’s Centre For Ethics on Mara Marin’s Connected by Commitment (Oxford, 2017).

Shannon also continues to be a regular presence on contemporary media discussions of important societal issues.  At the beginning of February, she provided comment on the new gender-neutral lyrics of the Canadian national anthem for the BBC’s Outside Source, for the Mike Farwell Show on 570 News (Kitchener-Waterloo)  (starting around minute 19), and for the Rick Gibbons Show, 1310 News (Ottawa).  She also talked about the #metoo movement in Your Say, Gulf News (out of the United Arab Emirates) and on the Mike Farwell Show (starting around minute 20).

Want to read more?

Additional online faculty writings can be found at these blogs:

Daily Academic Freedom

Hot Thought

The Kramer is Now

Philosophy in the World







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