As part of its Core Curriculum, Notre Dame requires every student to take two philosophy courses: an introductory course and (beginning in 2018) a more focused second-level course either in philosophy or Catholicism and the disciplines. Since 2016, I’ve served as our department’s Director of the University Philosophy Requirement (DUPR). As a department we are committed to thinking strategically about how to make introductory and second-level courses more innovative, rigorous, and meaningful for the students who take them. Here are some current Philosophy Department teaching initiatives. Feel free to contact me for questions or resources.
- I am Principal Investigator on the Mellon Foundation’s Philosophy as a Way of Life: Invigorating the Undergraduate Core grant ($806k, 2018-2021) and co-PI on the NEH’s Philosophy as a Way of Life Summer Institute ($137k , 2017-2018 with Steve Angle (Wesleyan) and Stephen Grimm (Fordham)). Both projects bring together networks of university faculty, administrators and PhD students interested in innovative philosophy pedagogy.
- I run a monthly Philosophy Pedagogy Workshop for faculty and PhD students. The Workshop discusses best practices in course design, assessment, and curriculum planning — always with an eye towards specific insights for philosophy faculty. And we coach new PhD students through writing syllabi, teaching statements, and assignment design.
- We’ve launched some new courses, including the Introductions to Philosophy through special topics, God and the Good Life, the Philosophy as a Way of Life seminar, Gateway seminars for sophomores and programs for students interested in interdisciplinary philosophy minors.
- We’ve developed a mentoring system for helping advanced PhD students design second-level courses around topics they are passionate about. Examples include Groups: What They are and What They Can Do (Chan and Finocchiaro) and Community Engaged Teaching: Religion, Identity and Social Justice (Finley).
- We’ve conducted a pre-course/post-course study of every Notre Dame student taking a version of Introduction to Philosophy in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017, looking at the effect of different formats of Intro on students’ interest in philosophy as an academic subject and as a life pursuit. We are also investigating which demographic factors, if any, predict a student’s experience in a first philosophy course.
- We’ve started the GGL Fellows program for undergraduates committed to leading philosophical dialogues and serving as peer mentors.
- I serve on the Provost’s Ad Hoc Committee for Academic Advising and the University Committee for the First Year of Studies. Along with members of our GGL Teaching Team, I give many presentations to other universities, foundations, community groups and Notre Dame alumni about the importance of philosophy education.