Funding to Start Mentoring Programs for Underrepresented Undergraduates

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By Wes Siscoe (Postdoc, University of Cologne)

Philosophy has a “leaky pipeline” problem. Even though the racial and gender diversity of philosophy undergraduates has been increasing, underrepresented students are still far less likely to complete graduate study in philosophy. From 2000 to 2016, the percentage of philosophy majors who identified as Black rose steadily from 3% to 13%, but the percentage of philosophy PhD recipients who identified as Black only rose from 1.5% to 4%. During that same time, the percentage of philosophy majors who identified as women rose from 35% to 45%, but the percentage of philosophy PhD recipients who identified as women remained below 35%. Thus, although the number of minority students within undergraduate philosophy programs is increasing, this growth has not shown up to the same degree at the graduate level. There is a leak in the pipeline that runs from undergraduate philosophy to philosophy PhD programs.

In order to combat this leaky pipeline, Lauren Willson and I are now accepting proposals to create seed chapters of the Minorities and Philosophy Mentoring Program.  Through funding provided by the APA, selected applicants will receive a $1,000 stipend, prepared mentoring materials, and year-long consulting sessions to support their work in launching and developing their programs.  Applying Program Directors must be graduate students in philosophy during the 2022-2023 academic year in order to be eligible (M.A. and PhD students are both welcome to apply).  The PhilJobs posting about this opportunity can be found here.

The original chapter of the MAP Mentoring Program was founded at Florida State University during the 2020-2021 academic year.  Original program staffing included one Program Director and 14 graduate student mentors.  The Program Director was responsible for overseeing all elements of the program, including expanding institutional support for the program, scheduling meetings to inform all team members of upcoming responsibilities, and troubleshooting any problems that arose during the creation of the program. Mentors were responsible both for forming a relationship with students in which mentees felt comfortable sharing some of the challenges and obstacles they face within philosophy and helping them reflect on and pursue various academic and career opportunities.

The first-year results of the mentoring program were promising.  On an end-of-year survey, mentees had all of the following reactions to the program: 

“I have to say, the MAP program is the best mentorship program I’ve been a part of in my whole academic career. Thank you for everything you all do!” 
“My mentor is the best mentor ever and we clicked very much over the last year. I’m so excited to have them as a life-long professional, academic, and personal connection. Best mentorship program I’ve been a part of in my career to date. So grateful.” 
“I think this program was extremely helpful. It has really allowed me to build a connection with others in my field.” 

Due to the positive results of the inaugural year of the MAP Mentoring Program, we are now seeking to start chapters of the MAP Mentoring Program at three new universities. The seed chapters of the MAP Mentoring Program will be established during the 2022-2023 academic year, with all necessary preparations and training occurring during the summer of 2022. 

Eligibility and Application Guidelines

In order to be eligible, applications for seed funding must satisfy all of the following:

Applicants must be interested in creating a mentoring program that helps underrepresented students:

Feel welcomed and valued in their philosophy departments
Excel in their academic studies
Pursue academic and career opportunities after graduation

Applying Program Directors must be a graduate student in philosophy during the 2022-2023 academic year (M.A. and PhD students are both welcome to apply)
Applying institutions do not need to have an established Minorities and Philosophy chapter

Applicants who meet all of the above conditions are eligible to submit a proposal.  Proposals should be submitted as a PDF or Word Document to rwsiscoe@gmail.com (cc: lwillson@fsu.edu). The deadline for submitting applications is May 27th, 2022. Late applications will not be considered, and all applications should include the following in a single document and abide by the indicated word limits:

Name and CV of the applying Program Director
A statement explaining the qualifications of the Program Director for leading a new chapter of the MAP Mentoring Program (max 500 words)
A list of graduate students at the institution willing to be involved in the initiative.  Not all graduate students who will serve in the program need to be listed at this point, as we recognize that the number of interested graduate students may grow as the program is established
Background and demographic information about the university and philosophy department, including number of philosophy majors and minors.  This information will be used to assess how many students might be interested in participating in a mentoring program aimed at underrepresented students within philosophy (max 250 words)
A statement explaining the need for the MAP Mentoring program at their institution (max 500 words)
A description of resources and initiatives in which the department already has in place to serve underrepresented philosophy students (max 250 words)
A statement detailing the sustainability of the program beyond the seed grant year (max 250 words)
One letter of recommendation from a faculty advisor at the institution who will support the creation of the mentoring program and serve as the program’s faculty sponsor

Preference will be given to proposals that can demonstrate a strong need for a chapter of the MAP mentoring program, an ongoing commitment to serving underrepresented students, and the long-term sustainability of their potential programs. Please feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions at rwsiscoe@gmail.com.

Biography:

Wes Siscoe is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cologne’s Center for Contemporary Epistemology and the Kantian Tradition and an FWF Research Fellow at the University of Graz. Before that, he was a Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Florida State University and the Mellon Course Design Coordinator for the Philosophy as a Way of Life Project at the University of Notre Dame, and he received his PhD from the University of Arizona. His research revolves around several themes – rationality, language, and virtue – and their importance for accounts of human excellence and achievement.

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More

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