Monday, January 27, 2014

Designing the liberal arts learning environment

A colleague recently e-mailed asking what I thought would make the best classroom environment for a philosophy classroom, or a liberal arts learning environment in general. While I am confident that the physical geography of a classroom makes a difference to how we (can) teach and how students learn, I'd never thought about the issue systematically. 

Some initial observations:

The standard college classroom is not, we might say, very learning-centered. As Donald Ritzenhein points out, if function follows form, then the implied function of a typical 'liberal arts classroom' (the desks in a row facing the teaching model) is to enable students to sit down — and zone out. It's a very inflexible, teacher-centered spatial design, not designed to facilitate interaction among students. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Latest issue of Teaching Philosophy

It's now available online. Here are the contents:

Teaching Philosophy - Volume 37, Number 1 - 2014

Jennifer Benson
Teaching radical philosophy is tricky business, especially for junior academics. We are offered lower division introductory courses and service courses in applied philosophy, perhaps as adjunct or single-year contract employment. Our instructional objectives and teaching materials are often defined by others. We may only be able to include one or two readings in radical philosophy. Meanwhile, many students are defensive when our courses introduce criticism of the various forms of injustice generated by the social status quo. Offer students a single radical source in an otherwise conical reading list and one risks having the source dismissed as a tangent, bizarre and non-philosophical. In short, the readings are tokenized: instead of making the course more diverse and honoring the diversity in philosophy, the radical content is dismissed as strange and unimportant. Recognizing the material necessity of adjunct teaching and short contract teaching, and the importance of philosophy that aims at social justice, I offer best practices when one can only teach a few sources in radical philosophy.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Summer Program for Women in Philosophy at UC San Diego

The Philosophy Department at the University of California, San Diego is pleased to announce a call for applications for the 2014 Summer Program for Women in Philosophy, which will be held at UCSD from July 28 to August 8, 2014. The two-week program will feature two intensive courses and a variety of workshops, all geared towards providing an engaging philosophical learning experience and preparation for applying to graduate school in philosophy. Participants will be provided with housing and meals, will have transportation costs covered, will have all course and workshop materials provided, and will receive a $600 stipend. 

Full information at 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Still more on phones and multitasking

Studies continue to support the now-obvious finding that multitasking is extremely difficult, making electronic devices a distraction:

"students who use their mobile phones during class lectures tend to write down less information, recall less information, and perform worse on a multiple-choice test than those students who abstain from using their mobile phones during class.” 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

AAPT/APA Seminar on Teaching and Learning in Philosophy


2014 Seminar on Teaching and Learning in Philosophy 
Location: College St. Benedict and /St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN 
(1.5 hour drive from Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport) 
Date: July 31 – August 3, 2014 
Eligibility: Current Graduate Students or Recent (2012 forward) PhDs 
Seminar Facilitators: Stephen Block-Schulman (Elon University) 
Donna Engelmann (Alverno College) 
Mimi Marinucci (Eastern Washington University) 
Participants: Maximum of 20 

Application Deadline: April 11, 2014 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Seminar and Workshop regarding Teaching Philosophy

Two "calls for applications" for events sponsored by the American Association of Philosophy Teachers:

Facilitator Training Seminar 


Post-conference Workshop: Teaching & Learning in Philosophy