Rigor & Respect

The following statement was written and endorsed by the Philosophy Graduate Student Association in 2012 as a response to climate issues in our graduate seminars. The statement, written around the same time that SURG was created, is a good representation of our commitments to one another and to philosophy.

Statement on Rigor and Respect

So as to encourage productive seminar dynamics and to discourage counter-productive ones, we, the Philosophy Graduate Student Association (PGSA), endorse the following Statement of Conduct:

Insofar as we recognize that the seminar is a political environment—that is,

  • —that our chosen and/or presumed identities directly affect the classroom environment and that those identities are an amalgam of our race, sex, gender, class, ability, age, academic standing, etc.
  • —that, as products of our environment, those social identities will consciously and/or unconsciously determine the treatment of some as marginal to others;
  • —and that the seminar is a place to practice our political sensibilities;

Insofar as we recognize that the seminar is a pedagogical environment—that is,

  • —that the seminar is first and foremost a place of learning;
  • —that, as such, the seminar should benefit everyone just as substantially, regardless of identity or standing, previous knowledge or research interest;
  • —and that the seminar is a place to practice our pedagogical sensibilities;

 Insofar as we recognize that the seminar is a professional environment; that is,

  • —that the seminar is a forum in which we construct the profession, by building relationships, practicing argumentation, and honing the delivery of our ideas;
  • —that, as such, the seminar is a training ground for our networking capacities and a microcosm of our future network in the profession;
  • —and that the seminar is a place to practice our professional sensibilities;

We, the members of the PGSA, agree to uphold this standard:

  • That a consciousness of our identities, other identities, and their relationship be ever present, that an attempt be made to counter-act privilege by those who are traditionally privileged, that centers of dominance and sedimentation be resisted, in whatever form they take;
  • That every effort be made to share the floor, to let each other speak, and to solicit opinions as much as assert them; that particular attention be paid to modeling and encouraging curiosity, experimentation, honesty, and basic grappling with ideas and figures in the process of learning;
  • That rigor be always coupled with respect, that a hermeneutics of suspicion be tempered with one of charity, that the ideals of critique and community not be at odds, that logic be informed by sensibility, and that challenge never be without support.

We agree to uphold this standard by consistently alerting and informing our consciousness, and regularly evaluating and revising our practice. We not only commend these sensibilities and practices in and beyond the seminar (including, but not limited to, departmental lectures, events, and dinners), but we recommend the dynamics herein affirmed to faculty, who can play an important role in their facilitation.