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Undergraduate Program:
Student Activities and Life

There are many activities and ways for undergraduate concentrators to participate in the life of the department. Please scroll down to learn more!

Activities & Student Life

Curriculum Committee

The Department has a Curriculum Committee composed of 3 faculty members, 2 graduate students, and 2 undergraduate students, usually juniors. They meet several times in the spring to discuss what courses should be offered the following year. The undergraduate members are responsible for communicating to the committee students' views about course offerings. The two representatives are chosen by lot from a sign-up sheet posted outside the Tutorial Office in December.

Department Colloquia

Every semester, several philosophers from around the country or from abroad are invited here to give talks. Undergraduates are invited to these talks, as well as to the receptions in the Bechtel Room afterwards. The talks are usually on Thursdays at 4 PM and are advertised with posters around the Department.

Attending such talks is a very good way for students to get an idea of philosophy and philosophical research outside of Emerson Hall. Attending the receptions is also a good way for students to get to know the faculty and teaching fellows outside of the classroom.

Harvard Philosophical Pyschology Laboratory

The Harvard Philosophical Psychology Laboratory is dedicated to examining philosophical problems concerning perception by conducting psychological experiments.

Harvard Review of Philosophy

The Harvard Review of Philosophy is a completely undergraduate-run annual journal that publishes articles by and interviews with prominent philosophers from around the world. It also runs weekly philosophical discussion groups for undergraduates and organizes occasional lectures and dinners with faculty members.

The Review accepts new staff members in September, and discussions are always open to everyone.

You can reach the Review staff at hrp@hcs.harvard.edu.

House Activities

Many of the Houses have affiliated tutors (resident or non-resident) and affiliated faculty members (see the list posted outside the Tutorial Office). The Mather House Cognitive Science Table often invites philosophers as guest speakers. From time to time, other houses have reading groups and discussion tables too.

Jobs in the Department

Work-study jobs are sometimes available in Robbins Library at the beginning of every term, although graduate students have the first pick of jobs. Responsible and reliable students, whether graduate or undergraduate, are always needed to sit at the desk, check bags, shelve books and periodicals, and answer basic reference questions. Please contact the librarian for more information.

Occasionally professors hire undergraduates to do library research or editing during the term or in the summer. These jobs are rare, require background knowledge in philosophy, and are usually by invitation.

Peer Advising

Every year, a committee of juniors and seniors acts as advisors to first-years interested in the concentration, and to visiting high-school seniors. A group of about six is chosen by lot from a sign-up sheet posted at the beginning of the spring term.

Undergraduate Women

The Department holds a reception for women in the Department early in the spring semester. It provides an opportunity for female undergraduates to meet the women faculty, graduate students, and staff, as well as other undergraduates. It can serve as a forum for discussion of any problems or worries which women philosophers are encountering in the Department or in the field as a whole.

The Visiting Committee

About every three years, our Visiting Committee spends several days here, assessing the Department. (The Visiting Committee will be here next in 2015.) The Committee consists of seven prominent philosophers from across the country. They report to Harvard's Governing Boards.

A committee of student delegates is formed ahead of time, which gathers information from other concentrators about what issues they wish to raise, and they then convey these views to the Visiting Committee at a meeting intended solely for students. This is an important chance for students to give feedback (directly or indirectly) on their experience in the Department, and perhaps to influence policy.

If students have pressing or important concerns about departmental affairs, they should as a rule first bring them to the attention of the Departmental Chair (currently Professor Sean Kelly) and the Head Tutor (currently Professor Warren Goldfarb), to see if they can't be resolved internally, before bringing them before this outside committee.

Women in Philosophy (WIP)

WIP organizes a lecture once a year by a local woman philosopher, on any topic she chooses, and organizes social gatherings of women undergradudates, graduate students, and faculty in philosophy, so that they can get to know one another.

Please contact Professor Susanna Siegel or the Philosophy Coordinator for more information.

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