CFA: GSCOPE 2023: Higher Education, Democracy, and Controversy

Submission deadline: July 31, 2023

Conference date(s):
October 5, 2023 - October 7, 2023

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Department of Philosophy, CUNY Graduate Center
New York, United States

Topic areas


Theme: Higher Education, Democracy, and Controversy  

Conference (open to public) - October 5-7, 2023 

Post-Conference Pedagogy Workshop (open to speakers and select CUNY GC students) - October 7, 2023 

Keynote: Harry Brighouse (University of Wisconsin-Madison) 

Pedagogy Workshop Leader: TBA 

Location: The Graduate Center, CUNY—New York, New York 

Abstracts & Workshop Applications due: July 31st 2023 

Responses by: August 31st 2023 

Organizers: Michael L. J. Greer (CUNY), Maria Victoria Salazar (CUNY)  

Contact email: [email protected] 

The committee for the Graduate Student Conference on Philosophy of Education (GSCOPE) invites abstracts for papers on the topic of Higher Education, Democracy, and Controversy. The theme of the conference & post-conference pedagogy workshop reflects the difficulty in creating and maintaining respectful discourse in higher-education classrooms, especially surrounding controversial empirical, moral, and political issues. Some argue that this is an equity issue. Undergraduate students who come from rural and/or underprivileged areas are more likely to experience alienation on campus, sometimes because they have never been exposed to certain “politically correct” language or ideas, and sometimes simply because they lack the financial and social capital that their peers have. It seems crucial (and follows from democratic and civic values) to foster safe learning environments for all students, especially those students who are more likely to feel alienated on college campuses and in elite spaces. At the same time, some argue that the aim of higher education is purely epistemological, and not civic or democratic. Proponents of this view might hold that free speech and academic freedom must be properly protected for higher education to perform its proper social function: education. What is the appropriate relationship between higher education, knowledge-production, teaching, free speech, and democracy? How can higher education instructors and professors be effective teachers in the light of these relationships? 

Papers must pertain to higher education but maybe about anything from interpersonal classroom dynamics to institutional policies to campus controversy. We are particularly interested in papers that explore the following topics: 

  • Philosophical issues around teaching controversy 

  • Navigating different identities in the classroom and on campus 

  • Free speech and controversial issues in classrooms and on campus 

  • Differential roles of various higher education actors when it comes to protecting free speech (administration, tenured professors, students, residential life) 

  • Training (or lack thereof) of graduate students to be teachers and the impact of this on teaching in our current political moment 

  • The right relationship(s) between democracy, knowledge,free speech, and higher education 

  • The role of controversy in democracy 

  • The relationship between controversy and equality  

  • Teaching as an equity issue – how education might foster or impede different kinds of equity (class equity, racial equity, urban/rural equity, gender equity)  

  • Disagreement in classrooms 

  • Epistemological issues around disagreement and understanding 

  • Trust in classrooms  

  • Pedagogical tools to cope with disagreement in classrooms 

  • Philosophical views on coming to understanding from different social locations, epistemic commitments, and material circumstances  

We especially welcome contributions that: 

  • Think about universities outside of the “top 50” and the “top 500” -- we want our conversation to reflect issues found across the entire spectrum of international higher ed institutions 

  • Engage with CUNY-specific issues and offer CUNY-specific solutions  

Abstracts should:  
- Outline the paper’s principal argument(s).  
- Give a good sense of the paper’s philosophical and/or empirical contributions and methods. 
- Be anonymized. 

Proposal Guidelines:  

Please submit abstracts of up to 500 words by midnight EST on Monday, July 31, 2023.  

PDF or DOC.X by email to [email protected] 

Post-Conference Pedagogy Workshop 

The theme of our conference Higher Education, Democracy, and Controversy is relevant to graduate student educators, who are routinely under-trained and under-equipped to engage with real-life problems they may encounter in the classroom. The lack of training for higher education teachers is a growing iue in philosophy of education.  

This workshop attends to this issue by facilitating a space for graduate student educators to reflect on how to foster good teaching environments for controversial issues, and be good interlocutors with each other on controversial issues. The workshop will also touch on promoting equity in classrooms. We will provide workshop participants with a certificate of completion.  

Supporting material

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Custom tags:

#GSCOPE, #Philosophy of Education