MAP Chapter Profile: University of California Santa Barbara

by Sherri Lynn Conklin

The MAP Chapter at UCSB was founded in Spring 2014 by a group of primarily first and second year PhD students. Today our chapter boasts members from each year and has been successful in recruiting members from each incoming class of graduate students. Our chapter prioritizes graduate student professionalization and research by supporting collaborations and exchanges between graduate students in the SoCal Region. Our Chapter’s research interests include: Inclusive Pedagogy, Mental Health, and Women in Philosophy.

This is a picture of UCSB MAP Chapter Members posing for a picture at the Spring 2015 SoCal Regional Meeting at Irvine. Pictured from left to right: Corey McGrath, John Caravello, Sherri Lynn Conklin, Morgan Bennett Bigelow, Arnel Blake Batoon, Susanna Faulds. Daniel Story not pictured.
Corey McGrath, John Caravello, Sherri Lynn Conklin, Morgan Bennett Bigelow, Arnel Blake Batoon, Susanna Faulds. Daniel Story not pictured.

Activities

UCHRI Multi-Campus Graduate Working Group on Philosophy and Inclusive Pedagogy

For 2015-2016 and again for 2016-2017, Chapter President Sherri Lynn Conklin and Chapter Vice President Jonathan Caravello received the Multi-Campus Graduate Working Group Award as Co-Conveners for research on Inclusive Pedagogy. The working group involves graduate student collaborators at UCI, UCLA, and UCSD and builds on a 2014 initiative by chapters of SoCal MAP.

Our focus will be pedagogical techniques, classroom climate, perceptions of the discipline, and deterring factors prior to college.

Short-Term Goals: To mobilize Philosophy graduate students across several UC campuses, generating discussion and developing resources for more inclusive Philosophy classrooms at each participating institution. To compile the products of these discussions and the newly developed resources in a curated blog, so that they are accessible to the academic community. To share the output of our project with the academic and philosophical community more broadly.

Responsibilities: Each member of the working group will be responsible for organizing a pedagogical workshop or discussion group at his or her institution, organizing one outreach event that engages the larger community, and submitting work independently or in collaboration to an acceptable academic forum. In addition, working group members will meet face-to-face once per quarter and meet once per month via online video calls.

This award was funded by the University of California Humanities Research Institute, and is advised by faculty PI Michael Rescorla.

SoCal MAP Intercollegiate Graduate Colloquium Speaker Exchange

Starting in 2015, the MAP Chapter at UCSB initiated a graduate student speaker exchange pilot program in conjunction with the UCSB Graduate Colloquium Coordinators. The purpose of this program is to provide opportunities for graduate students in SoCal MAP Chapters to present their work at UCSB’s Graduate Colloquium. This exchange program increases opportunities for graduate students to receive feedback from their peers, as well as provides networking and exposure opportunities for UCSB graduate students.

SoCal MAP Regional Collaboration

For 2014-2015, the MAP Chapter at UCSB participated in the first Southern California Regional Collaboration on Philosophy and Inclusive Pedagogy. Co-organizers created a reading list, which was distributed to chapter members and discussed in reading groups at individual chapter meetings. The collaboration culminated with a regional MAP meeting held at UCI during Spring 2015. The regional meeting will be held at UCSB for Spring 2016.

Other Achievements and Activities

Blind Grading: Prior to the founding of our chapter in 2004, there was very little blind grading in our department. Blind grading is the practice of grading student work without knowing the name of the student the work belongs to in order to decrease bias. Today, most graduate students and many faculty in our department use this technique.

Reading Groups: Members of our chapter have hosted reading groups on Mental Health and Philosophy, Inclusive Pedagogy – focusing on pedagogical techniques as well as disability in the philosophy classroom, and topics relating to Transgender issues     

Pedagogy Workshops: Our chapter has organized workshops on inclusive pedagogy, which sometimes involved hosting MAP members from other chapters as speakers. Topics have included: Student Motivation, TA Best Practices, Teaching Philosophical Writing, and Empathy as a Teaching Goal in Philosophy

This is a picture of UCSB MAP Chapter Members sitting in chairs as part of a discussion circle at the Spring 2015 SoCal Regional Meeting at Irvine. Pictured from left to right: Corey McGrath and Sherri Lynn Conklin
Pictured from left to right: Daniel Story, Corey McGrath, Arnel Blake Batoon

Organization

The MAP Chapter at UCSB is a campus organization registered through the Office of Student Life. We adopted a fairly standard club structure with the following roles and duties:

  1. President: The President is in charge of all official business regarding university relations, planning strategies, setting goals for the club, delegating tasks among officers within the club, presiding over elections, and settling disputes within the club.
  2. Vice President: The Vice President is an advisory position to the President. The Vice President is in charge of the general meetings, overseeing event schedules for the academic school year, inter-club relations, and covering for the president in their absence.
  3. Secretary: The Secretary is in charge of keeping all records for the club. Duties include typing and posting minutes for general meetings, keeping attendance for events and general meetings, keeping record of events for end of year report, and keeping a club roster.
  4. Treasurer: The Treasurer is in charge of all aspects of club finances. This includes, but is not limited to, club funds, collecting dues, purchase orders, filling out funding applications, event budgets, purchase receipts, and the regulation of all club spending.
  5. Primary Event Coordinator: The Event Coordinator is in charge of initiating concepts for new events, carrying out the planning schedules for club events, filling out event approval forms, and ensuring that all club events run smoothly and in a timely manner.
  6. Graduate Liaison to Undergraduates: The Graduate Liaison to Undergraduates is in charge of organizing and attending regular meetings with the undergraduate student officers. Delegates authority to undergraduates and organizes undergraduate outreach events.
  7. Undergraduate Student Officers: Graduate Student Officers will appoint Undergraduate Student Officers as needed and make appropriate changes to the MAP constitution to reflect these positions

You can view our club constitution here.

Although registering our MAP chapter as a student organization involved jumping through time-consuming hoops, there were considerable benefits to doing this at a school like UCSB. These benefits include: $250 start-up funds and access to other campus funds, priority access to free campus venues, and Graphic Design Services for advertising events. We encourage chapters on other campuses to look into the possible benefits of registering MAP as a student organization.

This is a picture of UCSB MAP Chapter Members sitting on the ground as part of a discussion circle at the Spring 2015 SoCal Regional Meeting at Irvine. Pictured from left to right: Daniel Story, Corey McGrath, Arnel Blake Batoon
Pictured from left to right: Daniel Story, Corey McGrath, Arnel Blake Batoon

Challenges

There was some initial resistance to founding a chapter of MAP at UCSB because there was a fear that the purpose of MAP was to criticize the department and the discipline, and, in fact, there were some very angry voices amongst the co-founders, so the worry was not entirely unwarranted. However, we were able to overcome this resistance by emphasizing our goal of graduate student professionalization and undergraduate mentoring in the mission statement we shared with our graduate students and faculty. Since founding the MAP Chapter at UCSB, we have received a great deal of support and interest from students and faculty.

There was some initial resistance to implementing blind grading. In particular, graduate students in their fifth year or above were hostile to the idea. They argued that seeing a student’s name allowed them to assess the student’s writing more holistically. After all, how could they grade for improvement when they did not know who the student was? New TAs argued that the initial grade could be decided without viewing the student’s name and that it would be possible to decide whether the student had improved after generating an initial grade. Many TAs decided that this method of blind grading worked for them. Of course, some did not, but these individuals have, for the most part, received their PhDs and left the program. Blind grading is fairly ubiquitous among current TAs in the program.

Sherri Lynn Conklin conducts research on moral worth and moral psychology as a PhD student in the Department of Philosophy at the University of California Santa Barbara and is the Co-founder and Chapter President of the UCSB Chapter of MAP.

Photos are provided courtesy of Michael Nekrasov.

Posts in this series: Introduction / Princeton / UCSB

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