More things Rutgers is doing about what it’s like

April 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

1.      The department has a Climate Committee composed of several faculty members and two graduate student representatives. The Climate Committee is chaired by the Faculty Climate Officer(s) whose charge it is to keep tabs on the climate in the department, to administer a climate survey among all the graduate students every other year, and to undertake initiatives to improve climate with the help of the Climate Committee.  Members of the Committee are available for consultation by any student who would like to discuss possible climate issues in the department. During the spring of 2012, the Climate Committee met with the university Equity Officer to inform its members about their reporting duties in cases of sexual harassment, and to review best practices for handling climate-related issues that might come to the attention of the Committee.

2.      The department has launched a comprehensive climate webpage located at the department website. The department believes that a crucial part of supporting and maintaining a thriving department climate for women and underrepresented groups in philosophy is making information and resources accessible to current and prospective students, and that an important part of creating and developing an excellent professional philosophical climate for all philosophers is making information on implicit bias and stereotype threat, how to counteract them, and departmental and professional statistics more publicly accessible. The climate webpage a) gives statistics concerning women and underrepresented groups in the philosophy department at Rutgers, b) summarizes the problems of implicit bias and stereotype threat, c) provides links to a wide range of resources including academic articles and power point presentations on implicit bias, stereotype threat, and climate issues generally, and d) describes the initiatives at Rutgers to help improve climate.

3.      The graduate representatives of the Climate Committee are facilitating the development of a collaborative, graduate-student maintained wiki, linked to the climate webpage, that contains various student-developed guidelines for students who take on leadership roles. For example, the wiki will contain a page of guidelines for proactive inclusion of women and underrepresented groups in graduate talks, a similar page for the Rutgers-Princeton Graduate Conference, a page for sharing teaching best practices, a page with suggestions for how to be supportive of women and members of underrepresented groups in seminars and colloquia, and a First-Year Survival Guide. The wiki will also provide a graduate-student only online discussion forum, to provide students with the opportunity to discuss any climate-related concerns or questions they may have. The wiki will be up and running no later than September 1, 2012.

4.      The department holds an annual Women-in-Philosophy Community Dinner. This event is open to all philosophy majors, but is geared toward undergraduate women interested in majoring in philosophy and going on to graduate school in philosophy. The dinner provides undergraduates with the opportunity to meet and talk with women faculty and graduate students in a relaxed setting and to gain more information about what it’s like to be a woman in philosophy.

5.      The department maintains a mentoring project for women undergraduate majors. Every woman philosophy major has the option of being paired with a volunteer graduate student mentor in the department. That mentor provides advice on everything from course selection to fellowship applications to career direction. This program will be piloted during Fall 2012.

6.      The Climate Committee is organizing sessions on how to work effectively as an “ally” to ensure that women and members of other underrepresented groups are treated equitably in classroom and other academic settings.

7.      The department administers a climate survey to all graduate students every other year in order to better study how to improve the climate for women and other members of underrepresented groups. Care is taken to anonymize all results which are studied by the Climate Committee and reported to the department at a department meeting where further action may be taken.

8.      The department sponsors special lectures on Issues in the Profession for all faculty and graduate students. In 2011, it brought in Professor Sally Haslanger who gave a very well-received talk, “Are we breaking the ivory ceiling? Women and minorities in philosophy.” Recently the department enjoyed Elizabeth Barnes’ colloquium talk about the ‘mere difference’ view of disabilities.

9.      For many years the department has run the Summer Institute for Diversity in Philosophy. This seven day program is designed to introduce undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds to the various areas of specialization within the discipline of philosophy, give students a better idea of what graduate studies in philosophy is about, and explore various views about what it means to be a professional philosopher.


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