Tag Archives: Discussion

What to do in Philosophy at Tufts?

Written by Jiali Liu, Philosophy M.A. 2017

Hi readers! Medford has officially entered its early summer season. With moderate humidity and pleasant breeze, it is neither too cold nor too warm. For the past two months, I’ve been busy with coursework and preparing to get back to China in the summer (yay!!!). I’m also very excited about the new cohort in the Philosophy Department!

For today’s post, I want to talk about some programs organized by Tufts’ Philosophy Department that engage faculty members, graduate students, and philosophically inclined undergraduates. The first has to be the Philosophy Club (aka free pizza club)! Every month on a Thursday, two professors from the department would lead a discussion and pose philosophical questions on a chosen topic from current affairs. I joined the past discussions on the justification for punishment, children in philosophy, pornography, and issues involving consent. I was able to talk with other students from all majors and years and we challenged each other’s opinions on the topic. The philosophy club is a great avenue to exchange knowledge and find for oneself some like-minded philosophical pals.

The second is the Graduate Student Writing Seminar. As the name suggests, it is exclusively offered for graduate students as a course in the first semester of the second year in the program. The seminar is dedicated to a semester-long peer review and editing on potential PhD applicants’ writing sample. Even for students who are not applying for the coming school year, the seminar helps them to produce a philosophically insightful piece of writing before graduation. I’m in particular excited about this seminar because all graduate students in the department get to work together, with each of their own interests and experiences in philosophy to cross-examine different philosophical arguments and deepen an intellectual bond with others. The Master program is only for two years—many students decide to continue in philosophy and many others transition to something else. It is indeed a precious opportunity for all of us in the program to collaborate on one project for an entire semester during which important career decisions are made.

The third is the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, a competition at the department where teams of undergraduate students explore contemporary ethical problems and dilemmas. We graduate students usually volunteer to moderate or judge the competition on the day of the event. The one last team will take the championship and move on to compete in the Northeastern regional competition. Everyone, including me, participating in this year’s Ethics Bowl made their contribution to a lively intellectual environment at the department as well as across the campus.

The department also sponsors Graduate Student and Faculty Discussion series throughout the academic year. The series usually takes place on a Wednesday afternoon where the guest speak, usually a professor in the department, talks about his/her current philosophical project. The series has proven highly efficient in bringing together research ideas and offers a great chance for graduate students to discuss vis-à-vis with faculty members on latest developments and trends in philosophical research. I remembered the talk given by Professor Jody Azzouni where he talked about his book in metaphysics, and it’s named “Talk about Nothing!”

Has reading about all these programs ignited your passion in philosophical discourse? For many graduate students, academic life is intermingled with professional networking. I try to strike a balance between intensive philosophical training and building up friendships and relationships. The department provides ample opportunities in both regards and encourages me to continue enjoying philosophy both at work and in life.


A Rey-lly Fun Night

The Force Awakens Poster

Photo from Star Wars Website

Written by Amanda Franklin, Biology Ph.D. Candidate

A few weeks back, people were queuing up overnight to see Star Wars. Even now, everyone is still talking about the new movie. As a grad student at Tufts, I was lucky enough to see it opening night! The Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences organized a screening for the grad students at the Assembly Row cinemas.

After everyone was in the cinema, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences made quite an entrance. He marched into the theatre in a Darth Vader outfit, complete with red light sabre. A few jokes later, he introduced the panel that Tufts had organized for a pre-film discussion. There was Professor Malcolm Turvey, a film and media studies professor; Professor Danilo Marchesini, an astronomy professor who researches galaxy formation; and Professor Marie-Claire Beaulieu, from the Department of Classics at Tufts University. Even President Tony Monaco was there to give some opening remarks.

Now, I guess here is the part where I tell you my little secret – I’ve never seen Star Wars. Well, I have seen Episode 1, but I fell asleep and all I remember is Jar Jar Binks (apparently everyone’s favorite character =P  ). Anyway, I learnt a lot in that pre-film discussion. I don’t know if I should warn you about spoilers for the old Star Wars films since most people have seen them, but here’s some spoilers. I learnt that Darth Vader died. I also learnt the Luke and Leia were siblings. Probably useful information before watching Episode 7.

The movie started quick sticks after the discussion. There were no ads or trailers which was nice. With the big comfy seats at Assembly Row, a beer in one hand and M&Ms in the other, it was quite an enjoyable cinema experience.

After the movie we all walked over to Papagayo to mingle. I think almost everyone turned up, from faculty to alumni and current grad students (of course current grad students never pass up free food). Delicious appetizers and margaritas were provided so everyone was in great spirits. It was definitely an ideal atmosphere to socialize in.

Overall, it was another successful event for grad students. I spoke to people from other departments, and got to catch up with people from my department who I don’t see very often. Can’t wait for the next grad student event to break up the long cold winter (I’m Australian, even this ‘warm’ winter still counts as cold in my books). I think the next event is one of my favorites – Moo and Brew! Basically cheese and beer for an evening. Two of my favorite things!