University News

WNE Receives Grant from CIC for the Advancement of Educational Programs in Philosophy

Published: November 19, 2021 | Categories: All News, Faculty, Engineering, Arts and Sciences
Professor Racine teaching her Philosophy students.

Western New England University (WNE) has been selected to receive a $1,000 grant from the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) as an extension of Assistant Professor of Philosophy Dr. Valerie Racine's participation in CIC's 2021 New Currents in Teaching Philosophy Institute.

The purpose of the Institute is to inspire the development of new courses (or the revision of existing courses) in Philosophy making them stronger, and more effective and engaging. The grant supports the development of new curricular activities during the 2021-22 academic year.

Dr. Racine plans to host on-campus or virtual events on current topics in bioethics, featuring a variety of guest speakers, including a special presentation relating to the Ethics of Medical Devices in the Spring of 2022. The interdisciplinary event will be a collaboration between the Department of History, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (which houses the Philosophy program) and the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

"We are very appreciative of the support provided by CIC and the Mellon Foundation. With these funds, we plan to invite engaging guest speakers who will illustrate the value of philosophical thinking in STEM education to our students in the biomedical sciences," says Racine. CIC's implementation grant would be used to invite and pay honoraria for 1-3 speakers to participate in public discussions on bioethical and epistemological issues in biomedical research. For example, one proposed theme will be focused on the regulation and development of medical devices, especially medical implants.

"We have begun to envision how we can better serve our students by offering specialized programs or certificates in applied ethics," says Racine. "One of our initiatives is to promote the study of philosophy on our campus by developing a curriculum that complements other areas of strength and growth at our institution, such as Biomedical Engineering and the Health Sciences. The proposed event will help to promote our department’s development of an Ethics certificate or minor for students across campus."

This program is part of the University's National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) 2021-22 planning grant. This NEH grant was awarded to Racine and Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Dr. Devina Jaiswal to plan an Applied Ethics Certificate focusing on creating experiential learning opportunities for students and fostering cross-disciplinary faculty collaborations in teaching and research.

"Through the intersection of disciplines, collaborations such as these exemplifies the University's vision and commitment to providing students with the skillset and mindset to not only create value throughout their professional careers, but to also assert their humanity in the process," says Dr. Jaiswal.

CIC's 2021 New Currents in Teaching Philosophy Institute and this program is generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.