published on September 24, 2015
Updating Syllabi, Reimagining Assignments, and Embracing Error
Strategies for Retaining Marginalized Students in Philosophy
One of the significant problems for philosophy’s development into a more diverse discipline is the familiar sharp reduction in the proportion of women and students of color after initial, introductory-level courses. This contributes to a lack in the breadth of perspective and experience that both upper-level students and faculty bring to philosophy, which in turn undermines the strength of the discipline as a whole. Much of the transformation of philosophy must necessarily happen at the departmental, and even university, level; but there are, nonetheless, a number of strategies available to individual teachers of philosophy to help to retain marginalized students—from the composition of course syllabi and assignment choices, to increased awareness of challenges within the discipline to students’ success and embracing error as a learning tool. This variety of pedagogical tools provides a means to help to make philosophy more broadly inclusive.