UCI's Logic and Philosophy of Science Summer Diversity Program continues to champion underrepresented voices
- August 28, 2023
- Second cohort closes out successful weeklong program focused on diversifying philosophy
For the second year in a row, a select group of students from places as far flung as Nepal to nearby Fullerton were welcomed to UCI for the weeklong Logic & Philosophy of Science Summer Diversity Program. Designed to expose students from underrepresented backgrounds to graduate-level topics in philosophy, the innovative residential program is spearheaded by LPS associate professor Lauren Ross MD, Ph.D., and funded by the National Science Foundation. The program serves as a platform for connecting with mentors, peers, and scholars, empowering students who have been historically underrepresented within the discipline, she says.
"Our goal with this program is to help address a lack of diversity in philosophy," she says. "As such, the program actively invites and supports many different groups, including, but not limited to: women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, students from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds, economically disadvantaged backgrounds, students with disabilities, and first-generation undergraduates."
Launched in 2022, the inaugural funded cohort undertook a week of intensive engagement with topics such as probability, randomness, social group dynamics, the philosophy behind dark matter, and causation and explanation in science. Building upon the success of the previous year, this year’s group delved even deeper into graduate-level topics, guided by faculty members and graduate students within the top-ranked UCI LPS department. New this year were grad “flash talks” in which current UCI LPS Ph.D. students introduced their research to the participants, and several social events including a hike at Bommer Canyon and an evening unwind at Eureka.
Risa Flores, a recent graduate from California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) and member of this year’s cohort, was drawn to the program for its specific emphasis on underrepresented groups.
"This is one of the few programs aimed at discussing philosophy of science and logic alongside students from underrepresented groups, so I knew I had to apply," she says. "This program presented me the opportunity to critically engage with other students from different backgrounds and allowed me to gain a glimpse into the contemporary questions being raised in different areas of philosophy of science and logic."
She was particularly impressed with the inclusive, encouraging, and supportive environment the program fostered.
“Being an underrepresented student, programs like these are very important. I appreciated how the faculty and graduate students joined us for lunch, addressing our questions about their research, asking us about our philosophical interests, and offering us insightful advice about graduate school,” she says. “Historically, the philosophers who shape the direction of philosophical discourse have typically been socially privileged. Programs similar to the UCI LPS Summer Diversity Program help broaden the range of voices within the discipline and empower underrepresented students who may underestimate their philosophical contribution due to the discipline’s history.”
“Moreover,” she adds, “programs like these actively encourage underrepresented students to keep pursuing their academic interests and goals.”
Ronaldo Shrestha, a graduate from University College Utrecht in the Netherlands who will begin his master's in philosophy at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada, agrees.
“Programs like these allow students from underrepresented groups to develop connections to many graduate students, professors, and participants from other institutions,” he says. “I think this helps students from underrepresented groups make more informed choices and decisions in the graduate application process and beyond.”
For him, the academic focus piqued further interests he’ll be exploring in graduate school this coming year.
"I feel that I have really benefitted from getting introduced to the philosophical work and orientation of the LPS department,” he says. “This program introduced me to alternative, sometimes quite unorthodox, interpretations of and solutions to canonical philosophical figures and problems.”
“I'm interested in getting my Ph.D. in philosophy in North America, so this program was a great way to learn more about the North American philosophical scene and life in grad school,” he adds. “I also really enjoyed connecting with philosophy students from other universities.”
As year two of the five-year program comes to a close, Ross is optimistic about the establishment of a permanent program that could serve as a model for other disciplines interested in fostering diversity in their student body and faculty.
Interested applicants for summer 2024 can learn more at https://lpssdp.com/.
-Heather Ashbach, UCI Social Sciences
-Pictured front row from right to left: Marcie Frey, Ronaldo Shrestha, Risa Flores, Elias Yuan
Middle row right to left: Nadia Harrara, Sean Tianxiang, Andrew Kim, Zining Deng
Back row right to left: Zoe Stapleton-Deno, William Kim, Banin Sukmono, Tom Tang