Philosophy Department Climate Committee
Welcome to the Climate Committee of the Philosophy department. We provide information and resources intended to support, maintain, and improve the professional philosophical climate for students, faculty, and staff, and especially for women and underrepresented groups in philosophy. The Committee welcomes recommendations regarding additional information that might be included on this page.
Pluralism in Images
APA examples of existing syllabi, organized thematically.
Diversifying Syllabi Reading List: a relatively short list of articles written by philosophers of underrepresented groups, also thematically organized.
Underrepresented Philosophers’ Database: the perhaps largest database of philosophers of underrepresented groups. It provides their name, position, affiliation, location, AOS, and self-identification, with very good search options.
Core readings in philosophy by female authors: A Google spreadsheet, with topic, full reference, level of difficulty, and occasionally some notes.
Project Vox: A collection of materials related to the works of four 17th-century thinkers (Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Gabrielle Du Chatelet, and Damaris Masham), with some sample syllabi, articles, and primary sources.
Diversity Reading List in Philosophy: The Diversity Reading List offers a quick way of finding texts and evaluating their relevance for your teaching. You can search the list for specific texts, authors or keywords, or browse by topic in an easily navigable structure of categories inspired by PhilPapers. Whenever possible, the list included abstracts, author’s keywords, and links to online versions of texts and other resources.
Resources for women and other underrepresented groups in philosophy
- The APA Committee on the Status of Women: a large collection of resources, including further links, information about climate in many philosophy departments, various guidelines, etc.
- Society for Women in Philosophy (US chapter)
- Society for Women in Philosophy (NYC chapter)
- Feminist Philosophers blog
- What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?
- Society of Young Black Philosophers
- Collegium of Black Women Philosophers
- Society for Philosophy and Disability
- Disabled Philosophers blog
- A New York Times piece on women in philosophy by Sally Haslanger
- An essay on implicit bias and stereotype threat by Jennifer Saul
- Another New York Times piece on why women are quiet at work
- A Guardian piece on how a woman’s favor does not count
- The APA has various thematic newsletters on minority philosophies (Indigenous philosophy, Hispanic/Latin philosophy, Philosophy and the Black Experience, Asian philosophy), as well as specific Committees for all of these. These are available on the APA website.
Some facts about implicit bias
Implicit bias is a form of bias against members of a group just because they are such members. It is ‘implicit’ because it consists of unconscious attitudes and actions; it might even be contrary to the same person’s explicit beliefs about the same group. Because of this, it is difficult to self-diagnose.
Examples of implicit bias include:
- When writing recommendation letters, an advisor uses different language when writing for a woman than when writing for a man. According to some statistics, instructors tend to focus on the ability to work hard in the former case, while they focus more on accomplishments and promise in the latter case.
- When an instructor does not notice that a member of a minority group would like to say something in class.
- When a member of a minority group makes a point mostly unnoticed, and the same point gets attention when proposed by a non-minority person.
- When an instructor has slightly different policies of classroom behavior for the minority students.
- Be aware of it so that you can avoid the situations in which you would exhibit it.
What should I do about implicit bias?
- Seek out practical advice; here are answers to some FAQs: https://philosophicalspaces.wordpress.com.
- Consider best practices for the inclusive philosophy classroom: http://phildiversity.weebly.com.
- Be an active bystander! http://web.mit.edu/bystanders/strategies/index.html.
Some facts about stereotype threat
Stereotype threat occurs when an individual is in a situation to confirm a negative stereotype of a group to which he or she belongs. Such situations can interfere with the individual’s performance.
Examples of stereotype threat situations include:
- When a test is introduced as to measure analytic ability, black test takers tend to perform better than whites. When the same test is not introduced this way, their performance is equal.
- Even young children can experience stereotype threat: when young girls are introduced to a test as measuring mathematical abilities, they perform worse than when they are not introduced to it this way.
What can I do about stereotype threats?
- Introduce tasks so that they are unlikely to create stereotype threat scenarios.
- When speaking about excellence, make sure to include examples from diverse groups.
- Reject the stereotype explicitly.
- Harvard’s implicit bias test (strongly recommended). At this site one may privately take a test that will indicate where one’s own implicit attitudes are such that bias is present. It is rare that no biases are unearthed, and so it is a helpful tool for self-understanding for all members of a community.
- A collection of philosophical readings related to implicit bias: http://www.bias-project.org.uk/
- A research project on implicit bias in philosophy: http://www.biasproject.org
- Extensive collection of data on and strategies against stereotype threat: http://www.reducingstereotypethreat.org
Climate problems can and do arise in most institutions, and both the department and the university have various ways to resolve these problems. If any member of the department (whether student or faculty) feels that they have been discriminated against or are being mistreated in any way, they should choose one of the following options to get help:
- If a student, staff member, or faculty member believes he or she is experiencing discrimination or behavior that does not involve physical touching or violence, he or she may choose to resolve the situation personally by approaching the individual whose conduct is questionable.
- If a student, staff member, or faculty member believes he or she is experiencing discrimination or behavior that does not involve physical touching or violence and does not wish personally to confront the individual whose conduct is questionable or if such an approach has failed to resolve the problem, the student, staff member, or faculty member may choose to discuss the situation and seek advice from his or her immediate supervisor or department head, the next higher level supervisor, or the Title IX Coordinator (Kareem Peat, Faculty Memorial Hall 229, 718-817-0181, [email protected]). In cases involving misconduct by, between, or among students, the report should be made to relevant Dean of Students (for Rose Hill: Christopher Rodgers (McGinley 242, 718-817-4755, [email protected]); for Lincoln Center and Westchester, Keith Eldredge (Lowenstein 408D, 212-636-6250, [email protected]).
- If a student, staff member, or faculty member believes he or she is experiencing discrimination or behavior that does not involve physical touching or violence wishes to file a formal complaint, he or she should contact the Department of Public Safety (718-817-2222) or the Interim Title IX Coordinator (Kay Turner, Esq., Vice President for Human Resources), Faculty Memorial Hall 229, 718-817-0181, [email protected]). In cases involving physical touching or violence, the student, staff member, or faculty member should make a formal complaint to one of these offices.
- If a student, staff member, or faculty member experiencing discriminatory behavior or sexual misconduct does not, for reasons of privacy and confidentiality, to make a report, he or she may avail themselves of confidential counseling in the following offices:
- Counseling and Psychological Services (Rose Hill: 718-817-3725; Lincoln Center: 212-636-6225)
- Office of Campus Ministry (Rose Hill: 718-817-4500; Lincoln Center: 212-636-6267)
- Off-campus confidential hotlines:
- RAPE Crisis Hotline, 914-345-9111
- Safe Horizon's Rape/Sexual Assault and Incest Hotline, 212-227-3000
- NYC Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-621-HOPE (4673)
- Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, 212-714-1141
- Crime Victim's Hotline, 212-577-7777
- A victim of criminal sexual offense may commence criminal proceedings against the offending person, by reporting the case to the police.
- Rose Hill: 48th Precinct (450 Cross Bronx Expy, Bronx, NY; 718-299-3900)
- Lincoln Center: 20th Precinct (120 W 82nd st., New York, NY; 212-580-6411)
More information about reporting cases of discrimination and misconduct is available online, and in the CARE (Campus Assault and Relationship Education) brochure.
N.B. All faculty, instructional staff, and teaching fellows and associates who observe, learn of, or reasonably suspect sexual misconduct must report as soon as possible the information to the Department of Public Safety, the relevant Dean of Students, or the Title IX Coordinator.