Monday, April 4, 2011

Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

For several years Gordon philosophy faculty have encouraged students to participate in national conferences and submit their best work for presentation. This past Saturday students were able to put that encouragement into practice through presentations and serving as moderators in the North Shore Undergraduate Philosophy Conference held at Gordon College. The conference, now in its third year, attracted undergraduate philosophy submissions from around the country. This year’s topic was philosophy and science.

Dr. Mark Gedney, chair of the Department of Philosophy, emphasizes the importance of undergraduate academic involvement. “Conferences such as these allow students to submit papers for review and, if accepted, stand before a diverse audience of their peers—many from other colleges and universities—and present their work.”
Nine students presented papers at the conference and over 40 participants attended. “It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of our undergraduates when presenting their ideas and to see growing confidence as they handled complicated questions from the audience,” said Gedney.
In addition to the experience of presenting, Gordon philosophy students served as moderators for all the sessions as the hosting organization.

Dr. Alisa Bokulich, associate professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University, presented the paper “Is Pluto a Planet? Folk Concepts and Natural Kinds in Astronomy.” The combination of undergraduate work with faculty such as Dr. Bokulich created a unique experience for those in attendance. “It’s invaluable,” said Gedney, “both in terms of the development of their work or research and in their preparation for entering the challenging world of graduate school or employment.”

The North Shore Undergraduate Philosophy Conference is sponsored by Gordon College, Endicott College and Salem State University. The conference took place in the Ken Olsen Science Center.

Photo: Brian Glenney, assistant professor of philosophy, and students in a philosophy laboratory in Frost Hall.

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