This week, I got the chance to talk to Veritas – Goucher’s philosophy club. I spoke with Dustin Taylor (‘18) President of Veritas and Antonia Pettit (‘20) Treasurer of the organization.
What are the goals of your organization?
DT: We have two goals. The primary one is that each year we organize and host an undergraduate philosophy conference. We rent out a space, and take philosophy paper submissions from undergraduate students on campus and other schools. There are eight papers presented and people get to ask questions. Students and professors from other schools participate. Then we usually have a keynote speaker at the very end – usually an established professor from another school- who lectures on a topic of their choosing. The conference is the type of experience that will help you if you want to go into academia later on.
Our second goal is to give undergraduate students a more relaxed place to talk about philosophy. We share readings and articles and we get the chance to riff off of each other.
AP: And it’s not just for Philosophy majors. The department here is excellent, but it is a smaller program, so having students from other departments engage with us is really important, especially through the conference.
DT: There’s a lot of things professors might touch on in class, and we decide to talk about it some more. For instance, our professor Margret Grebowicz did an interview with Playboy a few years ago where she talked about the philosophy of kink and BDSM. We were able to have a conversation about that in a place with less pressure to “be right” or impress.
AP: We’ve definitely set up a culture where you can have a philosophical conversation without having a professor judging what you are doing, or having the pressure of writing a paper about it or something like that. It’s all about being able to have those open, free flowing conversations.
How long has the club been going on?
DT: I don’t know about the club, but this will be our 15th conference, so at least 15 years.
What have you done in past conferences?
DT: There’s not an overarching theme in each conference, since we get so many different papers. Our keynote speaker will often end up imposing a theme, which is often about politics; whatever the mainstream political discourse is.
[This year] is Daniel Smith from Perdue. He specializes in cybernetic theory and Gilles Deleuze, who is a French postmodern philosopher.
Is the conference open to the public?
DT: Anyone that wants to come can come. You don’t need to RSVP. All day, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. We provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner – free of charge.
AP: It’s in Buchner. April 7th, on a Saturday.
Why should people choose to spend time with your club?
AP: Because Veritas is so infrequent, it’s not the biggest time commitment. And the conference is only one day, so if you can make that commitment, you can get a lot out of the club.
DT: I think that every department or form of intellectualism is a type of applied philosophy. I think it offers people a chance to think about things on a level that they might not always get to.
Any plans for the future?
DT: Our philosophy of Science fiction class last year would throw movie nights where we would meet as a class and talk about the movie. That’s something I plan to do at least once this semester with Veritas. Invite the club, department, anybody who wants to come.
AP: With me going forward with the club, I definitely want to create more of a structure, and figure out an exact plan of when meetings can happen throughout the semester. It’s hard to do, everyone’s busy and philosophy isn’t the first thing on a lot of people’s minds, but it’s still something that could be valuable to a lot of people.
And that’s that for this installment of club chat! Interested in having your organization featured in the next issue of the Q? Email me at email@example.com for your chance to be in the next edition!
Featured image: Goucher’s Philosophy Club, Veritas, will host their 15th annual conference Photo Credit: Goucher College