Post-Election Changes To Philosophy Curriculum By Subject: Epistemology

The shock of the 2016 presidential election is still being felt keenly by educators, many of whom see in its victor, Donald Trump, the embodiment of so much of what we aim to overcome: ignorance, incompetence, carelessness, and a lack of concern for the truth. 

A man who does not know how an idea goes from policy proposal to law, nor what most of the actual responsibilities of U.S. presidents are, is soon to become president. Regardless of political affiliation, educators should at least be disturbed at the success of someone so breathtakingly unprepared for the role.

And there is the variety of bigotries Trump and those with whom he surrounds himself display, his autocratic leanings indifference to rule of law, his disregard for protocol, and his hypersensitive responses to criticism.

In light of all this, what can educators do? I made three general suggestions last week, but more can be said.

Madeleine Ransom, a PhD student in philosophy at the University of British Columbia, suggested a series of posts soliciting suggestions for teaching materials or lessons that are both relevant to concerns about the election and appropriate for the subfield of the course. She writes:

For example, I’m teaching a class on the philosophy of mind next semester and I am now planning on incorporating a module on implicit bias. I would love to hear about how others teach it, and see any teaching materials people are willing to share. I imagine there are many other people in roughly my position: wanting to make a change but lacking in expertise in that given area and short on time. 

There are some general resources out there, such as the Diversity Reading ListBest Practices for the Inclusive Classroom, and the APA’s Diversity and Inclusiveness Syllabus Collection, but more specific ideas and advice would be very helpful.

So let’s start this series with epistemology. What readings or lessons or teaching strategies can be used to address election-related concerns in an epistemology course?

Folded Book Art by Rosy Hammersley

Folded Book Art by Rosy Hammersley

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