Letter from the Chair Winter 2020

Greetings from snowy Madison, where Philosophy is going strong as ever!

And welcome to our new, electronic departmental newsletter.  We’ve been planning this shift for some time, both to maximize departmental resources and to connect you with new sources of information about UW Philosophy.  (See, for example, the Sift and Winnow piece linked in this edition.)  But the move was also prompted by the COVID imperative to go as contactless as possible.

This was one of many changes spurred by the pandemic.  In March we shifted all of our courses online with just one week’s notice.  Over the summer, with a bit more breathing room, we planned a slate of fall courses that mixed in-person with remote instruction. This allowed both our students and our instructors to meet their requirements at whatever level of personal interaction made them comfortable.  Our faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduates met these changes with their customary energy and grace.  On, Wisconsin indeed!

Through it all, we carried on with the philosophical activities that make this a great department. Students took classes and earned their degrees.  Doctoral candidates completed dissertations and got jobs.  Professors published books and articles, and gave prominent lectures all over the world—they just did so from the comfort of their homes. Two of our colleagues, Anat Schechtman and Bruno Whittle, earned tenure this year.  As I write, we have two faculty jobs advertised; we hope to welcome new philosophers to our community in the new year.

On March 24, 2021, Paul Kelleher will give a public UW Philosophers @ Work lecture on his work with UW Hospital and the State of Wisconsin on the just distribution of medical supplies and vaccines.  The talk will be broadcast on Wisconsin Public Television and online, and you’re all invited to attend!

We’ve also spruced up our facilities this year.  With our Helen C. White administrative front offices and seminar rooms empty over the summer, we completely remodeled them, repainting, replacing decades-old carpet and furnishings, and installing new technology.  We can’t wait to get in there and put everything to good use.

In short, Philosophy at UW-Madison continues to thrive.  To learn more about everything we’re doing, please visit our website: philosophy.wisc.edu. We are grateful for all our alumni and friends of the department, and would love to hear from you.  And when the pandemic has lifted, you are always welcome to visit us in our newly-fancy digs on the shores of Lake Mendota.

Best wishes for a better 2021,

Michael Titelbaum
Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor
Chair, Department of Philosophy