Activities Organized by the Rutgers Philosophy Climate Committee
The Rutgers climate committee has as its mission to ensure that our department is an inclusive place where all graduate students are in a position to do their best work, with a particular focus on ensuring that the department provides a welcoming environment for members of under-represented groups in philosophy.
To work towards these goals, we organize a large number of departmental events and press for structural change. Below is a list of the work we have done or are currently engaged in. We welcome and encourage interested people in other departments to get in touch about running similar initiatives in their departments, or about setting up partnerships for further work.
• Beginning of the year ‘Building inclusive communities’ workshop, delivered by the Rutgers Centre for Social Justice.
• This was a three-hour workshop attended by most graduate students. It provided an opportunity to critically examine biases about different groups and to reflect on how we would intervene as bystanders. We also discussed resources related to building an inclusive classroom.
• Women in Philosophy dinner
• Dinner for women faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates. The aim is to provide undergraduates an opportunity to ask questions about professional philosophy, to encourage them to pursue philosophy further, and to establish mentoring relationships with graduates and faculty.
• End of the semester graduate student townhall, with suggestions to faculty and to the graduate community on change we would like to see.
• Graduate student climate survey
• We run a bi-annual climate survey of all graduate students in the department on climate issues.
• Post survey, the committee agrees on a critical analysis of the results to accompany the statistical analysis. This includes a comparison with previous years. The results are presented by our faculty representative at a faculty meeting, with discussion occurring there. People whose names are mentioned in the write-in box get spoken with where relevant.
• We also organize a graduate student discussion of the results. A faculty member from Women and Gender Studies has agreed to moderate a graduate student wide discussion of the results for the last two surveys. We then make concrete proposals to faculty about changes we would like to see in the department.
• Lunch for women graduate students and faculty.
• Climate lecture with Sally Haslanger
• We run an annual climate lecture by a philosopher whose work (philosophical or applied)
engages with issues of diversity in philosophy. This is widely attended and followed by a
reception and a dinner with members of the climate committee.
• Bystander training with Sally Haslanger
• Sally Haslanger presented material (drawing on social psychology literature) on how to
be a good bystander in the face of discriminatory or aggressive behavior. This was an
event for graduate students and faculty.
Throughout the Year:
• Negotiating with faculty for more graduate student input on hiring decisions
• We worked with faculty to establish new procedures through which graduate students can
suggest candidates for consideration and have input on shortlisted candidates or
candidates who visit the department.
• We also surveyed graduate students on their preferences for how they would like to have
input, solicited suggestions for hires, and set up an annual graduate student survey on
• Setting up undergraduate mentorship program for undergraduates interested in applying to
• Improving accessibility of departmental spaces to people with physical disabilities
• We had shelves and boxes removed so as to make all spaces accessible to people in
wheelchairs. We are in the process of setting up push buttons for a number of doors in the
department and the Gateway building overall.
• We are also in the process of renovating a graduate student office so that it is wheelchair
accessible, and coordinating with other departments for a university-wide push for better
accessibility on the whole campus.
• Setting up departmental policies for graduate students with children
• Setting up faculty-graduate mentorship scheme
• Improving the climate section of our departmental website - updating information and making it
easier to access.
Activities Organized by the Rutgers MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) Chapter
In addition to the climate committee, we have an active MAP chapter. MAP is a graduate-student run international organization that aims to improve the culture of academic philosophy and facilitate increased participation of under-represented groups in philosophy. Our MAP chapter is jointly run by graduate students and undergraduates, and our focus is on facilitating and increasing the participation of members of under-represented groups in philosophy.
• Meet and greet
• Open lunch in the department (for undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty), with a focus on discussing issues of under-representation in philosophy and providing an opportunity for community building among members of underrepresented groups.
• Impostor syndrome workshop
• This was an event for undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. There was a brief presentation on impostor syndrome and how to combat it, we played impostor syndrome
bingo, and then broke into small groups to discuss our experiences with impostor syndrome and strategies for dealing with it.
• Feminist philosophy reading group
• A weekly reading group, focusing on analytic feminism, and attended by faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates. We read a range of articles driven by interests of
the members of the group. We also hosted four visiting speakers - Elizabeth Fraser (Cambridge), Miranda Fricker (CUNY), Sally Haslanger (MIT) and Esa Diaz-Leon (LOGOS - Barcelona) for a pre-read discussion of their papers.
• A series of five workshops throughout the semester with talks by graduate students and post-docs who are members of under-represented groups in philosophy, each followed by
a reception. Organized in conjunction with the MAP chapters at Columbia, CUNY, the New School, and NYU.
• Rutgers day: we had a table promoting the activities of our chapter to the public.
• In progress: organizing a conference including both philosophy and practical workshops on the topic ‘Oppression and Resistance’ (jointly with other NY area schools). This will be held Fall 2018.