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Faculty Focus: London Calling, Via Skype
06.14.13 |
Dr. Robert Valgenti, associate professor of philosophy; Dr. Jeff Robbins, chair of religion and philosophy and professor of religion; and Dr. Noëlle Vahanian, associate professor of philosophy; added a new high-impact experience within their department this past academic year. The trio partnered on a two-semester, team-taught course, “Symposium on a Living Philosopher,” structured to imitate graduate-level study in philosophy.

“We wanted to create a year-long course that would be a sustained reading and writing project on one topic and one philosopher,” explained Valgenti. “We decided to make it a team-taught course so students could see us having disagreements about the text, with our different approaches to the text highlighting differences in our expertise. And we decided to make it a course on a living philosopher so that we could bring the person in to give a lecture and meet with the students.”

The symposium, which was supported by an Arnold Grant, focused on the work of French philosopher Catherine Malabou, a professor in the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University. “Her work is on the connection between philosophy and neurobiology, and she is someone who appeals to our philosophy and religion majors, as well as strong students in psychology and biology,” said Valgenti.

“Catherine Malabou is one of the most original and prolific continental philosophers in the world today,” said Robbins. “The interdisciplinary nature of her philosophy has wide implications not only for contemporary philosophy and religion, but also for neuroscience, feminist studies, and psychoanalytic theory.”

The class hosted a Skype teleconference with Malabou last fall, during which students were able to engage her in discussions about her work. “The students were very intimidated at first,” noted Valgenti. “But they realized quickly that she’s a very good teacher and genuinely interested in their projects.” Malabou then visited campus in April for a public presentation, “What is a Psychic Event? Psychoanalysis and Neurobiology on Trauma,” and to meet with the class. Students also presented their own research and received her comments on their work.

Team-Taught Courses, Spring 2013

• American Thought and Culture: taught by Dr. Gary Grieve-Carlson, professor of English and director of general education; and Dr. Jeff Robbins, chair of religion and philosophy and professor of religion
• R||:Evolution Records Label: taught by Mat Samuel, assistant professor of digital communications; and Jeff Snyder, professor of music and director of music business
• Choral Literature and Methods: taught by Dr. Mary Lemons, professor of music and director of music education; and Dr. Mark Mecham, chair and Clark and Edna Carmean Distinguished Professor of Music
• Psychobiology Seminar: taught by Dr. Deanna Dodson, professor of psychology; and Dr. Stacy Goodman, professor of biology
• Symposium on a Living Philosopher: taught by Dr. Jeff Robbins, chair of religion and philosophy and professor of religion; Dr. Noëlle Vahanian, associate professor of philosophy; and Dr. Robert Valgenti, associate professor of philosophy
• Central American Literature/Modern Latin America: parallel taught by Dr. Gabriela McEvoy, assistant professor of Spanish; and Dr. Michael Schroeder, assistant professor of history

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