Welcome to the Department of Philosophy at the University of Alberta. On this page you will find information about the Strengths and Expertise of our Department, Special Features of the Graduate Program and information about Teaching in the Department.
Strengths and Expertise
A range of funding options are available to both MA and PhD students. We offer a well-rounded program in philosophy, including the traditional areas of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, logic, and the history of philosophy, especially ancient, medieval and early modern. Besides these areas, we have particular strengths in the philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, aesthetics, political philosophy, environmental ethics, Indian philosophy, and certain areas of continental philosophy. For a list of faculty members working in specific research areas, visit Research Areas page.
Two members of our Department hold prestigious Canada Research Chairs: Kathrin Koslicki holds a Tier 1 CRC in Epistemology and Metaphysics, and Ingo Brigandt a Tier 2 CRC in Philosophy of Biology.
Graduate students are directly involved in the research of Department members with grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and other sources. Some of our most recently-funded projects were in areas such as early analytic philosophy (Bernie Linsky), Aristotle (Kathrin Koslicki), early modern philosophy (Amy Schmitter), logic (Katalin Bimbo, Bernie Linsky), environmental ethics (Jenny Welchman), as well as phenomenology and contemporary French philosophy (Marie-Eve Morin). See our “Funded Research” page for more information on current and past funded research.
If you are interested in the history of philosophy, we are one of the few departments in Canada with ‘all the bases covered’ in the canonical areas of the history of western philosophy: ancient (Phil Corkum and Kathrin Koslicki), medieval (Jack Zupko), early modern (Amy Schmitter), modern (Jenny Welchman), Kant and 19th-century philosophy (Robert Burch), and 20th-century philosophy in both the analytic (Bernie Linsky) and continental (Marie-Eve Morin, Robert Burch) traditions. The Journal of the History of Philosophy, the top journal in its field, is now housed at the University of Alberta, under the editorship of Jack Zupko.
Other areas of strength include ethics (Howard Nye, Jenny Welchman), philosophy of science (Ingo Brigandt), philosophy of technology (Geoffrey Rockwell), aesthetics (Amy Schmitter, Jenny Welchman, Marie-Eve Morin), non-western philosophy (Neil Dalal, Indian philosophy and the Yogic tradition).
Faculty and graduate students are active in regional, national and international philosophical communities, including participating at conferences. In recent years, the Department has hosted the congresses of the Western Canadian Philosophical Association, the Society for Exact Philosophy, the Canadian Society for Continental Philosophy, and the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy, as well as several conferences on specific themes. Since 2014, our students have also organized an annual graduate and postgraduate conference. Amy Schmitter and Ingo Brigandt are executive editors of the Canadian Journal of Philosophy. Amy Schmitter is also the co-editor of Hume Studies.
We keep our annual enrollment low enough to encourage contact between students and academic staff. At the same time, the total University enrollment of 37,000 students means that the University of Alberta can provide academic facilities and opportunities for interdisciplinary work not available at smaller universities. For example, the University Library is now the second largest in Canada, with around 5 million volumes, including 26,000 serials.
Further information about departmental strengths and interests can be found elsewhere on our website: see also our pages for individual faculty members, graduate students, news items, colloquium listings, past dissertation topics, and our placement record.
We offer a structured program of teacher-training to ensure full preparation for academic careers at all levels. Teaching Assistants receive extensive training, beginning with our PHIL 101 and PHIL 102 ‘Supersection’. Later in their program PhD students have an opportunity to be sole instructor of their own course, under the mentorship of a faculty member. You can expect a lot of feedback on your efforts in the classroom, which is one reason why our current graduate students continue to win awards for their teaching.
Graduate students are also active in presenting their research at conferences and colloquia, with some financial assistance available for travel expenses, and in their own colloquium called the “Publishing Support Group (PSG)” where graduate students read and discuss their papers.
The Department offers graduate supervision in most areas of philosophy. Each term 4-5 graduate seminars are offered, with some other courses also open to graduate students. Topics and descriptions of graduate seminars for the current year are available on our Course page. At any one time, there may be several reading groups available on a variety of topics. The Department also maintains a lively colloquium series, often with distinguished visitors from outside the university.
Opportunities for interdisciplinary work are available. The Department cooperates frequently with the Departments of Political Science, Psychology, Computing Science, History & Classics, and Women’s and Gender Studies Program, with the interdisciplinary programs in Humanities Computing and Religious Studies, and with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre. One member of staff specializes in Indian Philosophy and is cross-appointed with Religious Studies, and yet another is cross-appointed with Humanities Computing. Other faculty members serve on the staff and advisory councils of various interdisciplinary programs. Many members of the Department of Philosophy have served as examiners for other Departments, and vice-versa.