Engaged Philosophy – Ph.D. Student Experience


I’m Ayanna Devante Spencer. I’m a PhD student in the Department of Philosophy at MSU. I’m a University Distinguished Fellow, and so I’m supported to do research for two years. I’m also a Ford Fellow. The Ford Foundation seeks out students who are passionate about equity in higher education. I think the end goal of my research is knowledge with a capital ‘K’. What is the relationship between knowledge and action? What role is knowledge playing? What role do we want knowledge to play? And what could we be doing differently? One of the biggest that drew me to MSU is that it’s at the vanguard of engaged philosophy. I’m currently interning with Girls for Gender Equity in Brooklyn, New York This is the first year of the summer engaged philosophy internship program that’s supported by the department. I just really wanted to bring those two passions together the philosophy and the community organizing, and I think this is a great opportunity. So this summer I get to sit down and do philosophy with grassroots organizers around gender equity issues which is something I care about. So it’s been exciting. Engaged philosophy can look like so many different things. This was the perfect place for me to sort of explore what does that looks like and to have examples from faculty members of how they combine their philosophic interests with their commitment to justice in a really real and meaningful way. I love that there are faculty members that are doing this work, that they are supportive of students who are interested in doing this work. This is really a place to come to be in community with other folks who really care about that. I think that that’s something that’s really unique about MSU.

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