Philosophy Doctoral Student Steven James

Steven JamesMy IE intern Sophia aimed to get a better understanding of the nature of professional philosophy and to start thinking about candidate projects for future writing samples. To that end we met several times to talk about the differences between the undergraduate experience and the graduate experience. We spoke about both academic and practical considerations I have personally found useful during my time in the field as well as things I wish I had known before entering grad school.

We attended a graduate seminar together so that she could get a feel for the nature of the coursework and she sat in on my intro class a few times and talked with me about the kinds of considerations I have when designing courses and making lecture plans.

To facilitate some practice with research we talked about her general areas of interest and I made some suggestions for literature she might investigate. We agreed that she would write a short 5-7 page paper about some relevant topic of interest and that I would offer suggestions along the way as questions emerged as well as feedback on the final product so that she may use it either as part of a more substantive project in the future or as a model for such a project if her interests change.

I have found the IE experience particularly valuable for three reasons. First, it helped remind me about the kinds of issues bright students struggle with when first trying to properly conduct philosophical research. This helped me to think more clearly about the kinds of challenges my own students may be facing when simply trying to engage with philosophical material at the introductory level. Second, it gave me the opportunity to think about how I can be most helpful when students and colleagues come to me for professional advice. Third, the experience was personally rewarding in so far as I felt as though I was having a direct impact on someone's progress with things in which they have particular interests. This is much harder to find in the general classroom setting.