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Maroon box with slice of traditional phrenology head in the background.  Foreground includes text reading: University of Minnesota Duluth Department of Philosophy Presents The Dialogue.


Welcome to the second volume of The Dialogue, the annual newsletter from the UMD Philosophy Department!  This volume of The Dialogue profiles of some of our current students, passes along some fun facts about UMD Philosophy, contains an update from the Department Head, profiles of some of our faculty (both past and present), and concludes with a couple of fun Philosophical puzzles. 


—Jason Ford, Department Head,  

—Bridget Park, Executive Office Administrative Specialist, 

Table of Contents

  • Student Profiles • Fun Facts • Award Winners • Department Report • Faculty Profiles • Where Are They Now? • Philosophical Puzzles • 

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Student Profiles

Aprill Emig - woman leaning against a chalkboard

“I think I’ve always known I would major in philosophy -- but I also had a lot of hesitations. When I pictured myself in college, I imagined sitting under a large tree surrounded by books, thinking  deeply. But that’s not what happened. I first went to a community college and took a few philosophy classes because they sounded interesting, not because I was intentionally seeking them out. It wasn’t until taking logic, though, that my life changed. I was always decent at math but never got good grades (doing homework wasn’t my forte) and I always questioned math (why does 2+2=4? Isn’t that arbitrary? Couldn’t we just as easily say 2+2=5? Are numbers even real?...Yeah, I should have known I’d choose philosophy). Anyway, logic was the first time math made sense to me. Using symbols to convey arguments, what a concept! Still, when I came to UMD I didn’t instantly choose philosophy as a major. I was intimidated by what I assumed would be an argumentative environment; I’ve never been a fan of confrontation. Eventually I gained more confidence in my perspective and knew my feminist background would be an asset in the classroom. I was ready for the challenge of philosophy. There have been moments where I’ve doubted my abilities, but those are the times I’ve grown the most. Philosophy has given me the skills to think critically about issues and see all sides of a story. I know people say humanities degrees are useless, but the mental stimulation and challenge is exactly why I came to college. If I could do it all again, I’d still choose philosophy.”

—Aprill Emig is a Philosophy and Women Studies double-major and the managing editor at the UMD Statesman.  She recently completed an Honors Thesis in Philosophy titled “The Devil or the Corpus Callosum: A Genealogy and Critique of Transphobia in Radical Feminist Ideology”.  She is also wrapping up a UROP (a paid undergraduate research project) titled “How TERFs Expose the Singularity of the Internet and Real Life”.


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Adrian Quilling, young guy with beard and mustache in cap and glasses

“In Philosophy, different from all other Liberal Arts majors that I’ve encountered, you learn how and why you are acquiring the knowledge you have, and if that is actually good knowledge to have. It starts as a freshman when you begin working through Descartes and cover theory of knowledge ideas within the field of epistemology. I have taken a decent breadth of courses throughout my college career. I began with an Aerospace Studies minor, fulfilled my liberal education requirements and am now a double minor in International Studies and Political Science.  In all other fields of study I’ve undergone throughout my time here, there has been a simple regurgitation of facts. You memorize something, and rewrite it on the test. In Philosophy you learn concepts, ideas, not facts. So to take a test, you must actually apply your knowledge in any course beyond the introductory level. I have on many occasions witnessed professors from other fields commit large flaws in reasoning even in their own fields of specialty. But nothing slips past my Philosophy professors. Even in idle conversation I get called out all the time on unknown fallacies.”  

—Adrian Quilling is Philosophy Major and an International Studies and Political Science minor.  He is the Assistant to the Director of UMD’s Kirby Student Center, he has founded multiple student-run clubs, he’s the Student Coordinator for UMD’s summer advising and registration program, he’s been a teaching assistant on two separate occasions, he serves as an alcohol peer educator for UMD, and he spent two years in the Air Force ROTC program.

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Fun Facts! Did You Know That…

  • A Giant stuffed sock monkey wearing a UMD Philosophy T-shirt

    UMD Philosophy students can gain college credit by serving as teaching assistants for lower-level Philosophy classes! (Eight UMD students took advantage of this opportunity during the  2015-2016 academic year.)

  • Two UMD Philosophy students are currently serving (and getting paid) as research assistants in a project that involves creating a database of slurs! 
  • Two UMD students are currently serving as assistants for the Center of Ethics and Public Policy! 
  • Dr. Jeanine Schroer won the College of Liberal Arts Teaching Award for 2015-16!  (Jeanine won the University’s Outstanding Advisor Award the previous year.)
  • Our newest faculty member, Alexis Elder, plays the fiddle!
  • The Philosophy Department has an unofficial mascot: “Phil”, a giant sock monkey!
  • Dr. Shane Courtland won the Chancellor’s Service Award for 2015-16!
  • Bridget Park, the department administrator, recently completed her Masters in Education!
  • Dr. Eve Rabinoff and Dr. Sean Walsh have both been selected to attend 2016 Summer Seminar Programs sponsored by National Endowment for the Humanities! 
  • Over the last year or so, the Philosophy Department has offered Special Topics courses on the  Emotions and the Nature of Storytelling!  (Thank you Dr. Saint!)

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Award Winners

This year’s Ehlers’ Scholarship winner is Annika Josephson!  (Last year’s winner was Clint Glenn.)  This year’s Ehlers’ Book Award winners are John Sudduth and Frank Swanson!  (Last year’s Book Award winners were P.J. Ebensteiner and Erica Ronning.)  MacKenzie Malloy won the Center’s best student paper prize last year!  And the Philosophy Department student office worker—Jessa Warner—was nominated for Student Worker of the Year!

Clint Glenn (brown-haired young man smiling)
P.J. Ebensteiner (red-haired young man in glasses, smiling)
MacKenzie Malloy (portrait dark haired young woman smiling)
Clint Glenn P.J. Ebensteiner MacKenzie Malloy Jessa Warner

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Department Report for 2015 - 2016

The 2015-2016 year was another busy one for the department.  We’ve had some big changes:

  • Shane Courtland is leaving UMD to take up a position as the director of the Center for Free Enterprise at the University of West Virginia.
  • Michelle Saint and Gerald Marsh are leaving the department to take positions at Arizona State University.
  • We will be welcoming our new colleague Alexis Elder in the Fall of 2016.

The current faculty members of the department are: Jason Ford, Jeanine Schroer, Robert Schroer, Eve Rabinoff and Sean Walsh, with Alexis Elder joining us in the Fall.  (To learn more about Alexis, see the next section of the newsletter!)

In its 3rd year, the Cognitive Science Minor continues to grow, we now have over 37 students enrolled in it.  The Philosophy Major currently has 48 enrolled students and the Philosophy Minor has 59 students in it. 

We are happy to announce that Eve Rabinoff’s manuscript, Perception in Aristotle's Ethics, has been accepted for publication at Northwestern University Press!

We are continuing to explore the opportunities for the creation of an interdisciplinary Religion Studies Minor program, and we are working on a new Ethics Minor.

—Jason Ford, Department Head

Philosophy Logo pictures Phrenology head altered to include references to college concerns.

Question: How man Analytic Philosophers does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: None -- it's a psuedo problem.  Light bulbs give off light (hence the name).  If the bulb was broken and wasn't giving off light, it wouldn't be a 'light bulb" now would it?