The mass demonstrations over the past few months in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others stand as an urgent call for people in the U.S. and around the world to reckon with the violence visited upon racialized groups on a daily basis. The UA Little Rock Department of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies recognizes that Black, indigenous, and people of color face systemic injustices. These injustices also intersect with those faced by LGBTQ+ folk, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized groups that do not stop at the edges of the university campus but exist within our institution as well. We also recognize that, as philosophers and especially as a faculty with no representation of BIPOC communities, we have a particular responsibility to better support our BIPOC students and colleagues. Therefore, in the Fall 2020 semester the faculty of our department will commit to the following first steps:
- exploring ways to diversify and decolonize our curricula by adding more works by BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized groups in all our courses;
- reviewing our program and course learning objectives, in order to ensure that they reflect the priorities and support the educational needs of all our students;
- researching equity-minded, anti-racist pedagogical practices that actively affirm the experiences of BIPOC students, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities;
- exploring opportunities for engagement with our local community in order to support and facilitate anti-racist action.
After beginning these initial steps, the department will identify and communicate specific goals for further action in Spring 2021 and beyond. The department’s first report can be viewed here:
The Department of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies provides excellent integrated education to students at UA Little Rock. We encourage students to approach education as a life-long learning process and as an end in itself by creating a rich mentoring environment and challenging, rewarding curricula. We emphasize the necessity for all our students to learn critical thinking skills, to read well, to write well, and to recognize the importance of reflecting on their ideas and values. We foster situations in which students have opportunities to apply these invaluable skills with both historically-oriented and case-based learning techniques and with continual discussion of real-world implications. The department strongly supports diversity in curriculum and education and aims to extend that commitment to activities outside the classroom, supporting student engagement across campus and explicitly recognizing our roles as student educational advocates.
The Department of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies is committed to strengthening its commitment to student success and broadening its recognition for excellence in teaching and community service.
We will maintain a rigorous, philosophically relevant curriculum and work to build our base of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies majors and minors. We will strive to enhance our curriculum with state of the art technological advances in online and face-to-face instruction and will keep our program responsive to disciplinary, professional, and economic pressures. We will continue to enhance student learning by improving upon and adding to additional departmental facilities and space. A designated student lounge will be available to students and will include computer access, areas for student organization and club activities, and a small library. We will work to increase book donations to the department library.
Community Outreach and Recruitment
Further, we will continue to build our already rich community outreach activities by increasing high school administrator, teacher, and student involvement in the Arkansas High School Ethics Bowl, as well as increasing our UA Little Rock recruitment efforts for the university’s Ethics Bowl Team. We will foster relationships with leaders of the metropolitan community of which UA Little Rock is a part by inviting guests to campus to attend and participate in these events. We will commit to partnering with community organizations when relevant to do so on all conference and related activities.
We will continue to foster contexts in which students are encouraged to spend time outside of the classroom involved in extra-curricular activities and department sponsored events with faculty. We will remain active participants in our students’ academic lives.
Implementation of Mission and Vision
Philosophy Program Goals
The BA in Philosophy is designed to enable students to:
- communicate a clear understanding of historical and contemporary philosophical inquiry;
- demonstrate an ability to think independently about a philosophical topic or problem;
- clearly articulate and support their own views.
Student Learning Objectives
Students completing a BA in Philosophy will be able to:
- explain how a particular thinker has attempted to address a philosophical problem, and the significance of that thinker’s approach;
- critically analyze a philosophical argument concerning a particular topic or problem;
- articulate arguments of their own in support of a philosophical thesis.