Archives for the month of: February, 2014

Thanks to those of you who have already done your oral exams!  I’ve enjoyed the philosophical conversations we have had so far, and I’m looking forward to more!

For those of you who are getting ready to take the exam, good luck!  The current score to beat is a 90–will you be the one to top that?  [EDIT: someone did!  The high score of the first oral exam was a 98, and more than one person earned that score.]

Everybody: don’t forget to come to class Monday ready to talk about ideas in theology and the existence of God, having done the readings noted on the syllabus.  And make sure you’re coordinating with your outreach project groups!  On Wednesday of next week, each group will pitch its proposed project to the class, identifying the philosophical question (generally a chapter in The Philosophy Gym) they are taking on, the population they want to reach, and their strategy for engaging that population in contemplating their question.  I’m looking forward to hearing well-thought-out, creative pitches!


Prof. Henry Allen Jr., Prof. Ken Paulsen, and I have planned a few help sessions for students in social science classes–philosophy, history, government, geography, etc.  These sessions are especially useful if you’re majoring in these disciplines, but they’re still very useful even if you’re just taking one class.  The first one will take place TOMORROW, Thursday, February 20th, at 1:00 PM in D210.  The topics are study tips, academic etiquette, and outlining papers.  If you’re eager to learn more about any of these topics, bring your burning questions and we’ll do our best to help you out!  Mark your calendars for Wednesday February 26th, 4-5pm, too, when we’ll have a help session on transferring and advising, which will meet in the LifeMap Commons, and Monday March 3rd, 11:30-12:45 for a help session on writing in the social sciences, meeting in E-175.

Today, we’re going to do two main things in class.

1. We’re going to work together to review for the oral exam. Overwhelmingly, the results of the suggestion form indicated that you want to practice key terms.  So I’ve planned an activity that will hopefully combine fun with reviewing key terms.  Hopefully. 

2. We’re going to take some time for you to form teams of 3-4 people for the Outreach Project.  Think about whom you might like to work with, and talk to them in class today.  Everybody needs to be on a team.  Remember, by this Friday at 11:59 PM, I need to receive an email from ONE member of each team, CCing all other members, where the text of the email is the names and emails of all members of the team.  If you like, you can also come up with a team name.  After Friday, there is no switching teams, so choose wisely.  If you aren’t able to come to class today, please be in touch with your classmates to join a team!

What do YOU want to do during our review session next Wednesday?  Fill out this form to suggest activities.

Hello!  Today in class, we’ll work together to learn about political philosophy.  I’m going to do a mini-lecture covering concepts I think are important that the book doesn’t really cover (or doesn’t cover enough). So, if you’re reading this and you missed today’s class, please get in touch with a classmate and borrow their notes–this stuff is fair game for the exam, along with textbook readings, handouts, web links, anything else discussed in class, etc. Then we’ll work in small groups to take apart the Rawls reading on civil disobedience.  We’ll also make a little time today for questions about the outreach project.

Remember, we won’t have class on Monday because it’s a holiday.  On Wednesday of next week, we’ll meet to review for the oral exam.  Don’t forget to sign up for the oral exam SOON, using the spreadsheet linked in an earlier post.  I hope you’re working on memorizing your literature passage, identifying key terms to study, and learning the key terms you’ve identified.  On review day, I’ll facilitate various ways for you to study and review and practice the exam with your peers.

Here’s another resource for civil disobedience–don’t worry about reading this before class, it’s just a good resource to enhance your learning.  It’s especially helpful if you missed today’s class–it definitely cannot replace what we’ll do in class, but it will help.

A quick clarification on the Outreach Project.  Please choose your groups in class on Wednesday, February 19th, and finalize your choices by Friday, February 21st.  One member of your group should email me by 11:59 PM on Friday, February 21st to inform me of the names and email addresses of all the members of your group.

Today in class, we’re going to look at philosophy of mind.  My plan is for us to take apart the Descartes reading, consider the idea of qualia, read Borges and I, look at Searle’s Chinese Room Experiment and artificial intelligence, and meditate to explore the workings of our own individual minds.  Hopefully we’ll get to do all of this!

I want to share with you the handout for the upcoming Outreach Project, a group project, as well.  Start thinking about who you would like to have in your group.  We’ll discuss this more in class; the day to actually form groups will be next Wednesday.

I’ll be distributing a handout in class today that I had planned to distribute last Wednesday.  Please read this handout, a selection from John Rawls on civil disobedience, by this Wednesday.  If you’re not in class today, you can pick it up in my office during my office hours–or, if you send me an email and ask, I’ll leave a copy on my visitor’s chair for you.

Due to the snow day, we’ll push philosophy of mind to Monday.  We’re going to try to do philosophy of mind AND begin political philosophy on Monday, so that we’re well prepared for the oral exam by the end of this coming week, so please do the politics readings listed on the syllabus by Monday, as scheduled.

And cross your fingers that it doesn’t snow again between now and the exam!  🙂

Here is a space for you to collaborate to generate a list of key terms to study for the exam. 

Coming up in the week of 2/24 and 2/26, we will have our first exam.  Class will not meet that week.  This is an oral exam and you can find information on it in the exam guide document.

We’ll discuss this in class this week, too.

You will take your oral exam in my office, B-227-H, at a time you sign up for.  Use this spreadsheet to sign up.  Simply type your name next to the timeslot you want to reserve.

There are a few rules.  Please follow them.

1. Sign up for one spot and one spot only.  If you change your mind, sign up for a new blank timeslot and remove your name from your old one.

2. Don’t steal someone else’s spot by deleting their name and typing yours in instead. If someone else has gotten to the timeslot you wanted before you did, that’s too bad, there are plenty of other timeslots available.  If you really need a specific timeslot, sign up early!

3. Don’t create new timeslots!  If you’re late to the party and you don’t find a timeslot you like, the solution is NOT to randomly create a new timeslot!

4. Don’t delete the breaks!  It’s to everyone’s benefit to have a happier professor grading your oral exams, and losing my built-in breaks will make me less happy.

5. When it comes time for your oral exam, please wait at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to my office.  I’ll come to the top of the stairs and call you.  This is for everyone’s privacy during the exam.  Please try to arrive 5-10 minutes early, but don’t come directly to my office, because someone is probably taking their exam.  Just wait in the hallway and I’ll let you know when we’re ready to go.

Any questions, send me an email.  Happy studying!