The research seminar, which all students will take in their second term of study, will provide the opportunity to develop a research paper on a topic of their choice (but within the confines of the theme of the program). The goal of the research seminar is four-fold:
- to train students to conduct original research on a philosophical topic. This will emphasize the development of the ability to move beyond articulating and criticizing existing philosophical views (as is the norm in undergraduate philosophy courses) and to offer original insights into philosophical problems.
- to give students a constructive and carefully monitored start on their major research papers. The normal expectation will be that the work produced in the research seminar will be improved and elaborated upon in their major research papers. Starting students on this project early and under close supervision will ensure that students develop projects that are clearly conceived, manageable, and can be completed in the allotted time.
- to provide additional breadth in the philosophical experience. Because the seminar will involve an open discussion among the students concerning their work and the work of their peers, and because it is extremely unlikely that students will be working on the same topic, exposure to a variety of issues and philosophical traditions will be assured. This fact, coupled with the seminar format, will ensure that students will engage critically with issues that lie outside their own research projects and philosophical strengths.
- to professionalize students by giving them practice in elaborating on and defending their work in a setting that is not unlike presenting a paper at a conference. This will be achieved largely by the seminar format of the course, in which students will be required to defend and clarify their own views and arguments in light of questions from other students and faculty. In addition, students will present their papers at a conference organized by the department at the end of the second term. This will be excellent practice for giving papers at academic conferences and is superb training for developing the ability to present one’s ideas as clearly as possible.
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