The Philosophy Behind Philosophy & Education’s Colloquium Series


by Sol Yazdiha

Philosophy has always been rooted in deep conceptual thinking, encouraging the exploration of questions like, “what is justice, truth, or beauty?” or “what does education mean, anyway?” Philosophers make a practice out of engaging these deep, primordial questions, and a large part in doing so is through discussion with other thinkers to better explore or challenge ideas and offer alternative perspectives.

As a staple of its academic program, the Philosophy and Education Colloquium Series is intended for all doctoral and masters students to have these sorts of discussions. Philosophy and Education Program Coordinator Professor David Hansen described the Colloquium as an “agora,” a term derived from ancient Greece which means a meeting space for debate and dialogue. “In the spirit of an agora,” Hansen explained, “we have colleagues that come in from all over the country and the world to really provoke us and give us a fresh way of thinking.”

There are many benefits of the Colloquium, one of which is that it brings in a diversity of colleagues that expands outside the walls of TC to give the students a broad range of perspectives. Also, as a community-builder, the Colloquium has become a way for all program students and faculty to come together. “New York’s a big place,” Hansen said, “and Teacher’s College is a commuter school, with people scattered all over the five boroughs and New Jersey. The Colloquium is a sort of social ritual. It helps our students focus on their studies and develop an identity as a philosopher of education.” Each Colloquium is also followed by a reception, where students and faculty can break bread together and continue their discussions informally.

Additionally, the Colloquium is a ritual of sorts for PhD students, who upon defending their dissertation, are also responsible for hosting and leading a Colloquium. “It’s always a very special occasion,” said Hansen, “they come and talk to us about their research like a scholar of the world. In doing so, they become a colleague.” He went on to say, “It’s a magical moment, and a special part of our students’ defending their dissertation and graduating.”

The fall 2015 Series begins on September 17, with Professor Grace G. Roosevelt of the Audrey Cohen School for Human Services and Education, Metropolitan College of New York in New York City. Titled “Creating a College that Works: Audrey Cohen and the Metropolitan College of New York,” this first in the Series is co-hosted by the History and Education Program and the Center on History and Education.

image: detail, The School of Athens (1509-1511) by Raphael


Sol Yazdiha was a Staff Writer for the Department of Arts and Humanities.