Christine Korsgaard, Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University and world renowned moral philosopher, studied philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

In her recent Dewey Lectures, entitled “Thinking in Good Company”, she describes what prompted her to go into the profession. She says this about her undergraduate experience at Illinois Philosophy: 

The attention and help I got from my professors there was absolutely amazing. Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a large school, but Dick Schacht, Dave Shwayder, B. J. Diggs, Lou Werner, and Tom Nickel, in philosophy, and Chip Burkhardt, in the History of Science, all had plenty of time for me, and made it clear that they did. Much as I loved the subject, it would never have occurred to me to try to go to graduate school without their encouragement.

We are very proud of our many incredibly successful alumni. We are equally proud of the support and encouragement that our department seeks to provide many students who, like Professor Korsgaard, go on to great heights in numerous professions. Professor Korsgaard says that she came “from a lower middle class, white collar family — my father was a bookkeeper — and I was the first member of my immediate family to graduate from a four-year college.” She is not alone with respect to the diverse types of undergraduates who we seek to educate.

Consistent with the excellent and welcoming tradition of support that Professor Korsgaard received, the Illinois Philosophy faculty recently voted unanimously to approve a Guiding Principle related to undergraduate relations. It states: 

We will seek to engage with undergraduates to ensure that students from a wide range of backgrounds who can profit from a major in philosophy know that fact and are welcomed into the field. We will seek to do that through, among other things, honest and accurate outreach, by countering common misperceptions of our field, and by seeking to create a welcoming culture and climate for undergraduates from diverse backgrounds.

For other guiding principles that are currently being developed and help define who we are and what we value as a department, see Illinois Philosophy Guiding Principles.