Philosophy professors at York have garnered a number of teaching awards and accolades in recent years, including two university teaching awards at the junior and senior levels.
Professor Michael A. Gilbert was honoured with the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for full-time Tenured Faculty, for his creative teaching strategies and commitment to deep and sustained learning.
“I assume students want to learn. I try to get everyone to feel engaged, to connect with them on an individual level. A very basic element in my pedagogical approach is the material itself should speak to our lives,” says Gilbert. “Even when I was teaching introduction to formal logic I tried to bring it home for the students, to relate the material to what’s going on in the kitchen, boardroom and lunch room.”
Philosophy Professor Alice MacLachlan received the university-wide teaching award, which is given to just two professors across the university in any given year. Her work focuses on ethical theory, especially feminist ethics, virtue ethics and the role of moral emotions, and social and political philosophy. Her current research topics include forgiveness, reconciliation, reparation, and apology.
“I believe that philosophical teaching, at its best, helps students to develop a deeper understanding of their place in the world and that, at the same time, it encourages them to develop the clarity of thinking and precision of expression necessary to communicate this understanding to others so that others will listen,” MacLachlan said in her philosophy of teaching statement. “If I do my job right, then learning philosophy can be inspiring, unsettling and ultimately, tremendously empowering. I try to keep this in mind as I teach.”
Full-time Philosophy professors at York teach at all levels, from first-year undergraduate courses to advanced graduate courses. They employ a range of different techniques, from seminar discussions to the age-old Socratic method, which relies on asking students questions rather than just giving them all the answers. While most Philosophy courses rely on direct, face-to-face interaction among professors and students, these days, some courses are “blended”, with online lectures supplemented by in-class tutorials.