CU Department of Philosophy
Best Practices for Faculty and Students
The Philosophy Department has formulated Best Practices for faculty and student conduct that we believe will promote the highest levels of professionalism in our department. We are determined to make this a safe, inclusive, and welcoming place for everyone, including members of underrepresented groups, to work, research, teach, and study.
We begin by emphasizing that we adhere to, and strongly endorse, the University policies concerning
In addition, we adhere to, and strongly endorse, the Professional Rights and Duties of Faculty Members and Roles and Professional Responsibilities of Department Chairs, endorsed by the Boulder Faculty Assembly and the Provost.
Teaching Issues and Guidelines
- Articles and books by women and other underrepresented groups are often overlooked; we should include such works whenever they are consistent with the pedagogical goals of the course.At a minimum, one’s reading list should not under-represent the diversity of philosophy.
- Classroom examples should be respectful and gender- and minority-inclusive.
- Research suggests that members of traditionally under-represented groups participate disproportionately less in classroom discussion.Teachers should adopt policies to encourage classroom participation from all students during discussions. (See, for example, ideas here, here, and here) We should take special steps to assist students from underrepresented groups in expressing themselves in class, by, for example, intervening when such students are interrupted or spoken over while attempting to contribute. Teachers should not grade on quantity of class discussion.
- We should pay special attention to the philosophical promise of students from underrepresented groups and encourage these students to pursue and achieve their philosophical and professional goals, since the promise of such students is often overlooked.Teachers should engage in outreach and recruitment in their classes.
- Grading should be anonymous whenever feasible.
- Detailed rubrics should be used to provide a more objective basis for giving a grade than one’s “gut reaction” to the paper as a whole.
- Make sure to attribute ownership of ideas accurately.
- Encourage a view of philosophical ability as something that can be developed and expanded with effort and study.Do not praise students for their intelligence or for other abilities that may seem innate or fixed.
- All teaching members of the department should familiarize themselves with the results of studies concerning bias and bias avoidance in teaching.
Respectful and Professional Discourse
- Faculty should use professional discourse toward each other and to students, and should demonstrate a high level of respect toward each other—not just politeness but respect and appreciation.(See, for example, section 7 of the APA good practices guide)
- Faculty should not engage in personal criticism – criticism of someone’s character or abilities – of colleagues or students in public or professional contexts.
- Students and faculty should be open-minded and cultivate a wide interest in philosophical work, should investigate and not disparage areas of philosophy or other disciplines with which they are not familiar. Be respectful of those working mainly in other areas of philosophy.
Email Issues and Guidelines
- We should avoid sending mass emails or emails to listservs on tendentious matters of department policy, personal opinion, or other concerns that are best discussed in person.
- Use 'News and Announcements' whenever possible, to announce talks, events, and to make announcements, including news worthy of congratulations. Use the appropriate listserv for your emails (including phil-discuss and phil-soc).
- In general, we should avoid using the “reply all” function when responding to emails. Consider sending mass emails with recipients “Blind Carbon Copied” (BCC), which does not allow recipients to “reply all” to the entire list while protecting the privacy of those on the list.
Social Media Issues and Guidelines
- When one engages in social media in ways that can be viewed by one’s students or colleagues, social media should be treated as a professional or public context and one should not post things that are not appropriate in professional or public contexts. Everyone should make informed and ample use of privacy settings to block posts that share information best left out of a professional setting. Be very careful to respect students' FERPA/privacy rights.
Social Events Scheduling Issues and Guidelines
- A wide variety of social interactions among faculty and students are crucial for a vibrant philosophical community. It is of the utmost importance to maintain professional standards of behavior in these interactions, especially between faculty and students. We encourage faculty and graduate students to organize social events that promote respectful, professional social interactions.
- We should attempt to schedule events so that departmental members, who have a variety of obligations, can participate, including working parents. In practice, this will mean scheduling events at various times during the day, some within regular business hours, some in the early evening.
- Faculty should make a concerted effort to attend a range of departmental events, when such events do not conflict with their schedules.
Undergraduate Event Issues and Guidelines
- We should attempt to schedule events so that students and departmental members, who have a variety of obligations, can participate, including working parents and students with jobs. In practice, this will mean scheduling events at various times during the day, some within regular business hours, some in the early evening.
- We should attempt to hold events on campus, in public locations, or online whenever possible, since this is the most convenient option for most students.
- Graduate students should not invite undergraduates to parties in private homes, nor to parties where alcohol is being served. Graduate students may mentor undergraduate students, but the relationship should remain strictly professional, as with any teaching relationship.
- Overnight trips and retreats with students must have a strong educational justification; 9–5 weekend-day retreats can be suggested as an alternative choice.
Alcohol Issues and Guidelines
- The department should schedule regular alcohol-free social events, such as afternoon tea, post-colloquium receptions, and an end of the year party.Some department-affiliated social events may involve alcohol, as long as they are consistent with University policy.
- It is of the utmost importance to maintain professional standards of behavior in our social interactions, especially when such social interactions are taking place between faculty and students.
Office Hours Issues and Guidelines
- The best policy for faculty holding office hours is to keep the door open when meeting with students, or to ask the student whether they prefer to have the door of the room open or not and to respect those preferences.
- Graduate student office hours should be held between 9am–5pm, and should be held in a public location, preferably on campus (e.g., Hellems 15, the Laughing Goat in Norlin Library or Pekoe Sip House in the ATLAS building). They should not be held anywhere where alcohol is served.
Amorous Relationships Issues and Guidelines
As stated earlier, the department adheres to, and strongly endorses, the campus Amorous Relationships policy. In addition, we also endorse the following stricter recommendations:
- No faculty member should proposition, date, or become romantically involved with students in philosophy, whether graduate or undergraduate.
- No graduate student, either currently employed as a GPTI or TA, or expecting to be so employed, should proposition, date, or become romantically involved with undergraduate students in philosophy classes.
- Although relationships sometimes develop between consenting adults, where one is potentially or actually in a supervisory role over the other, departmental members in a supervisory role should never seek out situations in order to foster such relationships. If such relationships develop, they must be reported to the chair, and any supervisory role must immediately be terminated (in accordance with the Amorous Relationships policy).
- Best practices are not simply the responsibility of each of us individually. All members of the department must be willing to hold their colleagues accountable in public (student-to-student, professor-to-professor, etc.) for failing to pursue best practices, and to support in public those who are on the receiving end of bad behaviors. Likewise, all members of the department should recognize, encourage and reward those colleagues who are models of best practice behaviors.
- Best practices may require members of a community to confront each other, in ways that can be unpleasant for both the person confronted and also the person(s) doing the confronting. They require community support for those who confront when this is called for, and most generally they require courageous communities deeply committed to the educational mission of the University.