2024 Department Chair's Letter to Alumni

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June 26th, 2024

Dear Alumnae and Alumni

Warm greetings to you all!

With academic year 23/24 now behind us, I’d like to highlight some of the accomplishments of our students and faculty this past year, and fill you in on the Department’s programs and activities.

To begin, there is good news to report regarding faculty appointments.  Two members of our faculty survived the rigorous review process and have been granted promotion to Associate Professor with tenure.  Congratulations to Professors Kumar and McSweeney!  The Department hired new faculty as well.  Taking over as the new Stata Chair in Classical Studies this July is Professor Cinzia Arruzza who comes to us from the New School of Social Research in New York.  We are also delighted to be welcoming two new Assistant Professors to the Department.  Daniel Munro received his PhD from the University of Toronto in 2021 and is currently competing a postdoc appointment in York University’s Department of Philosophy. Daniel was hired as part of the “AI-Cluster” initiative, led by the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences and designed to promote interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers studying artificial intelligence.  He will join BU’s Philosophy Department this coming January.  Miguel Ohnesorge will fill the position we advertised in the Philosophy of Science.  Miguel was awarded his PhD from the University of Cambridge (UK) in April. Because he has just been granted a postdoctoral fellowship by the British Academy, he will begin his BU appointment in July of 2025.  We are excited to be welcoming these three new faculty to the Department.

Our faculty continue to be as busy as ever in the publishing department. To mention just a few new books: Professor Dahlstrom published an expanded second edition of his Heidegger Dictionary; Professor Sreedhar published a second edition of her co-edited volume, A New Modern Philosophy: The Inclusive Anthology of Primary Sources; Professor Garrett published volume II of his co-edited collection, Scottish Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century; and Paul Katsafanas produced the edited collection, Fanaticism and the History of Philosophy.  Members of the faculty accepted invitations to speak all over the world.  A sample of the universities at which we presented papers this academic year includes: the University of Lisbon, La Sapienzia University of Rome, the University of Helsinki, the Humboldt-University Berlin, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, the University of Antwerp, the University of Bologna, Obafemi Awolowo University Nigeria, the University of Sheffield, The University of St. Andrews, Cambridge University and Oxford University.

As I write, seven of our talented undergraduates are working on the projects supported by the Karbank Summer Fellowship program.  To mention just a few: one of our students will attend the World Congress of Philosophy in Rome; another plans to produce a rendition of Kant’s Groundwork for a Metaphysics of Morals comprehensible to children; another will attend the 6th Crete Summer School of Linguistics and the 35th European Summer School in Logic. We continue to be indebted to Steve Karbank for his on-going generous support of our undergraduates.

It pleases me to report that the Undergraduate Philosophy Association (UPA) is thriving.  This past academic year, it hosted weekly symposia and discussion groups as well as several larger events.  The UPA hosted its first Boston cross-college philosophy mixer this year, bringing together students from UMass Boston, Tufts, Boston College, Emerson and Brandeis.  In addition, the UPA successfully ran the logic tutoring program in cooperation with the Writing Department’s Tutoring Writing in the Disciplines program.  Our undergraduates once again produced an impressive new volume of their journal Arché (which may be ordered by contacting the editors at this address: arche@bu.edu). Finally, the UPA invited two of our distinguished alumni to campus to share their impressions about the value of their BU Philosophy experience.  We are grateful to Steve Karbank and Glenn Street for giving our undergraduates their time, and for advising them on how they might put their philosophical skills to good use, post-BU.  (We also owe thanks to Glenn for agreeing to serve as our special guest speaker at Commencement in May.)

Our graduate students continue to publish and receive awards in recognition of their fine work.  Several were awarded competitive dissertation fellowships sponsored by BU’s Center for the Humanities.  In addition to teaching their courses and attending to their own research projects, they organized workshops and discussion groups.  In March, they once again hosted their own conference, “Valuing Research and Researching Values: How to Bridge the Gaps between Ethics and Science”.  On the Placement front, two of our recent PhDs accepted tenure track appointments: Marie Feldblyum Le Blevennec will start as Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama this fall; Paul Goldberg will begin his appointment at Tutor at St John’s College (Annapolis).  Jack Harris accepted a position as Teaching Assistant Professor at North Carolina State.  It continues to be the case that our graduate students do quite well in an intensely competitive job market.

In the Fall, the Department welcomed Professor Bernard Reginster from Brown University as our Findlay Visiting Professor. That semester, colleagues organized workshops, for instance, on Iris Murdoch and on Early Modern Philosophy and Slavery.  In the Spring, we hosted the Boston Area Kant Colloquium, the Boston Phenomenology Circle, and a conference called The Nature of Devotion: Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives.  In short, the Department was bursting with activity. This may in part explain why we once again received many requests from PhD students and advanced researchers to visit under the supervision of our faculty.  We welcomed two philosopohers from China, one from Germany, one from Italy, and a recent University of Chicago PhD on a postdoc fellowship to study Heidegger with Professor Dahlstrom.

On behalf of the entire Department, I encourage you to stay in touch with us.  Our new Senior Program Coordinator, Sammi Lewis, prepares regular newsletters about the Department, and we would be happy to make the newsletters available to you. If you are interested, please send a message to Sammi at: casphilo@bu.edu. You are of course always welcome to drop by to visit us on Commonwealth Avenue and attend our events.  A good way to keep informed about Department news and activities is to consult the calendar of events Sammi posts on our webpage https://www.bu.edu/philo/, or to use this link: bu.edu/philo/events.

We are always happy to receive any financial support you feel inclined to send our way.  We typically lack sufficient funds for two specific expenditures. The University gives us a modest travel budget intended to cover transportation and hotel costs for participation at workshops and conferences. It is vitally important that our undergraduate and graduate students have the opportunity to engage in this kind of activity. By attending and presenting papers outside BU, they learn professional skills we cannot give them in the classroom.  Our students want to take advantage of such opportunities, but we need more resources to make this possible.  In addition, we would benefit from having more resources to expand our tutor program which hires students (undergraduates and graduates) to assist undergraduates struggling in their philosophy courses. This program has been extremely successful – in some cases, it has saved students from despair. The program benefits not just the recipients of help but also those who are hired to provide it.  If you are able to support these or other programs, please use this link.

As I step down as Chair at the end of this month and pass the torch to my colleague Walter Hopp, I wish to take this opportunity to express my thanks to all of you who have supported the Department, whether financially or in other ways.  Once again, I encourage you to stay in touch with us. Let us send you our Newsletter, and please drop by to see us should you find yourself in Boston.

With very best wishes,



Sally Sedgwick
Chair, Department of Philosophy