UBC Philosophy: 2023W Student-Directed Seminars

UBC’s Student-Directed Seminar (SDS) program “provides upper year undergraduate students (in 3rd year or later) the opportunity to propose, coordinate, and lead their own 3-credit seminar class with a small group of peers on a topic not currently offered at UBC-Vancouver.”

Next term (2023W term 2), UBC Philosophy students will be leading four seminars of a variety of topics currently not covered by our curriculum.  Here are the details:

PHIL 486.001Introduction to Eastern European Philosophy
T/Th, 12:30pm-2:00pm
Classroom: ALRD 113
Faculty Sponsor: Eric Margolis (with Veta Chitnev, CENES)
Student Coordinator: Artem Meshcherin

The academic focus of this student directed seminar is to introduce students to a variety of diverse philosophical thoughts that were occurring in Eastern European Philosophy since the 18th century.  Throughout the course we will cover some of the most influential Eastern European philosophers since the 18th century from Poland, Ukraine, Serbia, Russia, and other regions. Readings include original texts in translation as well as peer-reviewed secondary sources that will help students to understand the nuances of examined texts.

PHIL 487.001Topics in Environmental Aesthetics
T/Th, 12:30pm-2:00pm
Classroom: ALRD 112
Faculty Sponsor: Dominic Lopes
Student Coordinator: Rayva Nelson

Environmental aesthetics has been an emerging topic on philosophy of aesthetics and grapples with topics that have increasing importance in today’s society, such as, environmental action. The focus will be on the diverse point of views and standpoints that exists within environmental aesthetics, by looking at classic Kantian attitudes and contrasting them with Eastern, Indigenous, and other contra-Kantian perspectives on several key topics such as ethics, judgment, and evaluating natural beauty.

PHIL 488.001Exploring the Concept of Progress in History
T, 3:30pm-6:30pm
Classroom: ALRD 113
Faculty Sponsor: Sylvia Berryman
Student Coordinator: Nick Halme

Every year the United Nations releases a “Sustainable Development Goals Report,” which “provides a global overview of progress” towards a list of goals. The 2022 report tells us that, thanks to COVID, “years or even decades of development progress have been halted or reversed.”

The question that this seminar seeks to answer is what precisely is meant by “global progress”? What, precisely, is progressing? Is there a time when the world will have progressed sufficiently? What would it mean not to progress? Is progress “merely” a social or political convention, or can it be said to exist in some other way? Must progress “exist” in order to be pursued?

This is a philosophy course, and so in one respect is interested in examining the concept of progress per se. However, it is necessary that we also consider the role that the concept of progress has played in world affairs in order that we might clarify our understanding.

The Cold War was underwritten by two opposing conceptions of progress, that of the Soviet Union and that of the United States. The latter sort of progress may be identified as that advocated by Liberalism, borne out of the French and American Revolutions, the former the Russian Revolution. Did the Soviet Union really embody Marxist progress towards communism, and has America really made either John Locke or Thomas Jefferson proud?

PHIL 489.001The Philosophy of Hip-Hop/Rap Music
M/W, 4:00pm-5:30pm
Classroom: BUCH D228
Faculty Sponsor: Anders Kraal
Student Coordinator: Oliver Bontkes

This will be an examination of a variety of philosophical topics through the lens of rap music. We will explore the historical roots of rap music and the ways it has been used both as a tool to combat social oppression and as a means of expressing a sort of hyper-individualistic persona. We will also use rap music as a vessel to discuss the variety of functions that music serves, beyond just being something that we like to listen to.