World Philosophy Day events spark conversation

By Janine Sorel November 23, 2021

The Department of Philosophy at Cal Poly Pomona hosted its sixth annual celebration of World Philosophy Day on November 18 via Zoom, gathering students, faculty, and alumni for an event that sparked discussions about the important role philosophy plays in everyday life.

World Philosophy Day was established in 2005 by UNESCO, seeking to promote an international culture of philosophical debate that respects human dignity and diversity. The Cal Poly Pomona virtual event included alumni and faculty, student discussions, and a demonstration of Bowl ethics, as well as theses and research presentations from alumni and faculty.

“I really appreciate the alumni committee because there are so many committee members who have helped me,” said Emily Reyes, a philosophy student. “They helped me find out where certain programs are being offered through LA County.”

Reyes said the committee was helpful to her in figuring out what to do after college. Knowing she wanted to do something in law, it was helpful to hear about the job opportunities available to her right after graduation.

Alumni panel members discussed their careers and academic trips as well as how philosophy has affected their lives.

“I was a student before, but now I’m back as a graduate,” said Jacob Diaz (19, philosophy), CPP Student Behavior Coordinator before the event. “So, I see a different perspective, to be on stage and give advice to the future generation of philosophers, which is always great.”

According to Diaz, one benefit for students who participate in these events is to hear from the professors’ research and from their classmates, who are star students in the department, and what they are currently working on.

Mia Miller, a philosophy student and executive editor of The Bachelor’s Journal of Ethics, Politics and Social Justice, discussed with the group why she decided to start the journal. Miller emphasized that the department and its faculty are incredibly supportive of students, encouraging them to pursue their goals.

At the event, attendees were able to watch the show of the Ethics Bowl, a team-based competition where students analyze contemporary ethical controversies and defend their positions.

“In the Ethics Bowl, the goal is to have a strong position,” explained Corwin Aragon, associate professor in the Department of Philosophy. “It’s more like critical cooperation with attempts to build each other’s issues.”

Hosted by the Society for Practical and Professional Ethics, the competition aims to encourage students to think about ethical issues collaboratively and in a non-adversarial way. Unlike debate, the Ethics Bowl is designed to enhance conversation by presenting, defending, and exploring different perspectives.

Kristin Wesseler, as Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and a specialist in biomedical ethics and feminist philosophy, gave a presentation on lipid bias in medicine.

Weissler shared that the prejudice against fat, which she found prevalent among health care providers, perpetuates physical shame. This results in people’s mistrust and misdiagnosis, which reinforces risky practices such as extreme dieting and bariatric operations.

“I can’t get that presentation from Dr. Weisler because I thought it was so important. It’s like this whole idea, which is education can be healing, and there is a holistic approach to education,” said Reyes. And the conversations today, makes me realize how philosophy helps us navigate the world and learn how to respond to difficult topics that are hard to talk about.”

The event ended with a college Q&A where students and alumni could ask the committee what they thought of philosophy, ideas on pursuing higher education, the job market, and advice for graduate school.

“World Philosophy Day is a really good way to get students in touch with faculty and alumni and come together and celebrate the philosophy of CPP,” Aragon said.

Main image submitted by Corwin Aragon

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