Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

This is my first summer of not teaching since I started teaching at Harold Washington six(!) years ago. I must admit, it is awesome. The summer has been filled with making up for time lost with friends, family, the Lake Shore trail, and pleasure reading. But what has made this summer genuinely valuable has been the freedom to stimulate my mind according to the internal dictates of curiosity, rather than the external dictates of class preparation or tenure portfolio writing. Of course, what I find is that I most enjoy reading the very same things that I am also teaching. I got into this business for a reason, after all: I love philosophy. Nothing has ever given me quite the same pleasure as reading classical philosophy. I feel more strongly than ever, now with tenure at my back and a lifetime of teaching philosophy ahead, that I got into the right place. And fortune has been kind to bring me here.

But one thing I learned this summer is the great opportunity the summer lends itself to going to interesting conferences. This past weekend, I was in a new town and university for a conference directly related to the work on pedagogical games I’ve worked on here at HWC. Central Michigan University is located in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan: a small mid-western town with the cutest little downtown, with plentiful forests, a peaceful river, friendly citizens, and a sprawling and elegant university. As usual these conferences, it was mentally stimulating, motivated me for the fall, and filled my head with new ideas for the classroom. I strengthened my friendships with some faculty from across the country that I’ve known for some years, and made many new connections that I hope will develop. We spent every evening at dinner talking about students, games, teaching, and the various administrative environments we both benefit from and contend with.

All this got me thinking: where are the interesting conferences that other faculty go to? What have you learned? What conferences would you recommend to other faculty?

(I hope to share more about my two conferences in a future post.)

6 thoughts on “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

  1. Hi, Kamran.

    To acknowledge that Realist can be “illogical”/etc. and – in the same sentence – to state that Realist can be a “frequent stimulator of productive conversation” demonstrates willful ignorance.

    That tilts toward fallacious reasoning.

    The second statement doesn’t cancel out the first. However you personally define “productive,” you’re dressing Realist up with an air of scholarship or respectability that you don’t fully believe in yourself, and then you’re applauding the emperor’s new clothes.

    12Keystrokes does not wish to poison your well but to note once more that you yourself are not ignorant of Realist’s faults: you are simply choosing to ignore them (in the service of emotion or politics, perhaps) and that makes you willfully ignorant (i.e., you not only ignore any fault that you see, you also ignore any fault that others might see).

    This comment is relevant to the topic of your post.

    (Note: As before, this is an abstract sort of criticism — directed at your reasoning — and not a matter of personal preference or ad hominem. Naturally, the faults you identify may not be the same as those identified by 12Keystrokes, who is performing a rhetorical analysis.)

    • You state that your comment is relevant to the post, but I fail to see the link. I guess I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.

  2. Hi Kamran,
    No, I’ve not been to any conferences this summer. Don’t mean I ain’t been learning.

    I can only recommend conferences that stimulate peeps intellectually. Plenty of those around, I just need to coordinate my time better so I can attend.

    Looking forward to your future posts.

    Would the upcoming FDW count as a conference or is it simply a contractual obligation?

    • Sure, FDW has all the characteristics of being a conference, so I’d say yes. And just like most conferences in academia, there are some really interesting talks, and some talks that are only proficient in boring the audience to tears. And also like most conferences, the greatest value isn’t in the content of the seminars, but in spending significant time with fellow faculty from other departments and schools.

  3. The best conference is Lilly conference. I highly recommend this to everyone.

    • Could you share some of your experiences sometime? I’d be interested to read about them, and I’m sure others would too!

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