By Janean Sorrell, Nov. 23, 2021

Cal Poly Pomona’s Philosophy Department hosted its sixth-annual World Philosophy Day celebration on Nov. 18 via Zoom, bringing together students, faculty and alumni for an event that sparked discussions about the important role philosophy plays in everyday life.

World Philosophy Day was created in 2005 by UNESCO, striving to promote an international culture of philosophical debate that respects human dignity and diversity. Cal Poly Pomona’s virtual event featured alumni and faculty panels, student discussions, a demonstration of the Ethics Bowl, as well as dissertation and research presentations from alumni and faculty.

“I really appreciated the alumni panel because there were several panelists that helped me,” said Emily Reyes, a philosophy student. “They helped me figure out where certain programs are offered through LA County.”

Reyes said the panel was helpful for her to figure out what to do after college. Knowing she wants to do something in law, it was beneficial to hear about career opportunities that are available for her right after graduation.

The alumni panelists discussed their careers and academic journeys as well as how philosophy has impacted their lives.

“I was a student before, but now I’m coming back as an alumnus,” said Jacob Diaz (’19, philosophy), a CPP student conduct coordinator prior to the event. “So, I get to see a different perspective, being on stage and giving advice to the future generation of philosophers, which is always a great thing.”

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

Mia Miller, a philosophy student and executive editor of the Undergraduate Journal of Ethics, Policy and Social Justice discussed with the group why she decided to start the journal. Miller highlighted that the department and its faculty are incredibly supportive of students, encouraging them to strive for their goals.

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

“In the Ethics Bowl, the goal is to have a strong position,” explained Corwin Aragon, an associate professor in the Philosophy Department. “It’s more like a critical collaboration with attempts at building each other’s cases.”

The competition is hosted by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics and it is meant to encourage students to think about ethical issues collaboratively and in a non-adversarial manner. Unlike a debate, the Ethics Bowl is designed to foster conversation by presenting, defending and exploring different viewpoints.

Christine Wieseler, as assistant professor in the Philosophy Department, who specializes in biomedical ethics and feminist philosophy gave a presentation about anti-fat bias in medicine.

Wieseler shared that anti-fat bias, which she finds prevalent among healthcare providers, perpetuates body shaming. This results in people’s distrust and misdiagnoses, promoting risky practices such as extreme dieting and bariatric surgeries.

“I can’t get over that presentation from Dr. Wieseler because I thought it was super important. It’s like that whole idea that education can be healing, there’s a holistic approach to education,” said Reyes. “After listening to some of these talks and conversations today, makes me realize how philosophy helps us navigate through the world and figuring out how we should respond to tough topics that are hard to talk about.”

The event ended with a faculty Q&A where students and alumni could ask the panel what they thought about philosophy, thoughts about pursuing higher education, the job market and advice for grad school.

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

Feature image courtesy of Corwin Aragon 

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