2023 Department Chair's Letter to Alumni

                        June 28, 2023

Dear Alumnae and Alumni,


Warm greetings to you all!

With academic year 22/23 now behind us, I’d like to take the opportunity to look back, brag a bit about the accomplishments of our students and faculty this past year, fill you in on some of our programs and activities, and convey news about the Department and upcoming events.

First, allow me to highlight some recent faculty accomplishments.  Two members of our faculty have been promoted: Rachell Powell, to Full Professor, and Marc Gasser-Wingate to Associate Professor with tenure.  Professors Dahlstrom and Floyd brought out edited volumes  on Heidegger and Cavell respectively.  Professor Katsafanas’s new book, Philosophy of Devotion, appeared this academic year with Oxford University Press, and my own monograph, Time and History in Hegelian Thought and Spirit, has just come out with the same press.  The extensive publication activity of our faculty includes pieces in non-academic as well as academic venues (see, for example, Professor Kumar’s discussion of vegetarianism in the March 1 issue of the Boston Globe).  Our faculty’s excellence was recognized in further ways this past academic year:   Professor Sreedhar was awarded a Fellowship by the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study to spend two months carrying out research in Amsterdam, Professor Katsafanas was awarded a three-year grant from the Templeton Foundation, and our new colleague Professor Pollock received a grant from BU’s Center for Anti-Racist Research.  Two of our colleagues continue to actively edit journals: Professor Garrett as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Modern Philosophy, and Professor Hopp as co-editor of Husserl Studies. There is also exciting news about two new appointments: Effective July 1st, Professor Floyd takes over Professor Griswold’s position as Borden Parker Bowne Professor of Philosophy, and Professor Powell will begin her appointment as the new Director of the Center for Philosophy & History of Science, ending Professor Bokulich’s twelve years of dedicated service.

Our undergraduates continue to impress us with their engagement and enthusiasm.  Their own association, the Undergraduate Philosophy Association (UPA), hosts weekly social events and discussion groups to stimulate community engagement.  The UPA has helped the Department solidify its partnership with the Writing Department’s Tutoring Writing in the Disciplines program.  In addition, our undergraduates produced an impressive new volume of their journal Arché.  (If you are interested in ordering a copy, please contact the editors at this address: arche@bu.edu.

            As I write, thirteen of our talented undergraduates are working on the projects for which they were awarded Karbank Summer Fellowships.  One is developing an introductory philosophy discussion group for prisoners in conjunction with the nonprofit organization Concord Prison Outreach.  Another will attend the T. S. Eliot International Summer School and examine how poetry expresses emotion and philosophically significant content. Yet another will be in Slovenia for a two-week summer program at the European Summer School for Logic, Language, and Information.  These are just a few examples of the exciting projects funded by the Karbank Summer Fellowship program.

At the graduate level, we have a long list of achievements to report as well.  It especially pleases me to mention that our graduate students did extremely well on the job market this season.  A record number of five accepted tenure-track positions (positions that are very difficult to obtain).  Several others were able to land attractive temporary positions, some of which are likely to be converted into something more permanent.  In addition to this already remarkable record, one of our graduate students accepted a post-doc at the University of Copenhagen, and another received a predoctoral Mellon Fellowship. Our graduate students continue to publish and to receive awards recognizing their work.  Several of them working on their dissertations were awarded competitive fellowships sponsored by BU’s Center for the Humanities.  In addition to teaching their courses and attending to their own research projects, our graduate students regularly host workshops and discussion groups.  They even put on a conference in April, “Bodies in Context: Epistemological Considerations for a Diverse Society”, that featured prominent international speakers.

As is customary, the Department organized a regular colloquium series this year in addition to various workshops and conferences.  In October, we hosted an international conference on Hegel’s aesthetics.  We hosted the Boston Phenomenology Circle in late March and the Early Modern Philosophy Workshop in April; there was also The Heidegger Circle Conference in May.  In early April, the Department honored the memory of Professor Klaus Brinkmann with a special lecture delivered by Professor Alfredo Ferrarin (Pisa). This is a mere sample of the events of the past academic year, but it demonstrates that BU Philosophy is bursting with activity! This activity, as well as the high caliber of philosophical work being produced here, at least in part explains why we receive requests every year to host visiting scholars from all over the globe.  This past academic year, we welcomed four visiting scholars from Italy alone, as well as others from Germany, China and the UK.

Our irreplaceable colleague Professor Charles Griswold officially retires at the end of this month, and the Department will now take steps to add to its ranks.  We are in the process of completing a search for a new Stata Chair in Classical Studies (you will hear more about this in the coming months).  In late Fall, we will begin reviewing applications for an Assistant Professor position in the areas of Philosophy of Science and Applied Ethics.

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

We would of course welcome any financial support you feel inclined to send our way.  Let me mention two specific expenditures for which we typically lack sufficient funds. The University gives us a modest travel budget which is meant 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 it possible for them to do so.  In addition, we would benefit from having more funds at our disposal to support 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 failure or 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.

Let me conclude by expressing my deep gratitude to those of you who have made financial contributions to the Department or have supported it 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. If you have any questions about the Department or comments you would like to share, do not hesitate to get in touch.

With very best wishes,



Sally Sedgwick
Chair, Department of Philosophy