Philosophy at Haverford

Haverford has a vibrant Department of Philosophy. Haverford’s academic departments frequently invite professors from other colleges and universities to share their work at talks. Attending these talks is an excellent way to expand your knowledge and apply your learning from the classroom.

Throughout this year, the Department of Philosophy has hosted talks by, among others, Paul Snowden (“Wittgenstein on Rule Following”), Lisa Shabel (“Kant on the Mathematical Principles of Pure Understanding”), and Nate Zuckerman ’02 (“Becoming Who We Already Are: Heidegger and Kierkegaard on Repetition”). It has also hosted the Annual Global Philosophy Forum.

On Friday, April 10, I attended a talk by Professor Justin Broackes. Broackes talked about perception and knowledge and described what the soul understands through itself and through the senses in Plato’s Theaetetus (184-187). He also mentioned passages from Phaedo (65b-66, 82d-84c) and Symposium (210e-212b).

Another wonderful part of the Department of Philosophy is the New Philosopher’s Club. I am a member of this group of students that meets about once a month to discuss philosophical topics. Our most recent meeting centered on a discussion of performance studies and performatives. This meeting was also on April 10, which made my Friday quite philosophical! You can check out this blog post and this web page for more on the New Philosophers’ Club.

Global Dialogue Institutes

The poster for the Annual Global Philosophy Forum, courtesy of Professor Ashok Gangadean.

April Fools Day in the KINSC

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One of my all-time favorite traditions at Haverford is April Fool’s Day in the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center.  Majors from each department work hard to transform the building into a giant prank. Professors and students have such close relationships at Haverford that students poke fun by posting photos of the faculty superimposed onto characters from Harry Potter, for example, or by making puns out of professors’ names and fields of study. Here are some photos from April 1, 2015. The Math Department is partially my handiwork!


A cappella at Haverford

A cappella is a pretty big thing at Haverford! We actually claim to have the most groups per capita out of any college in the country. That doesn’t mean that everyone bursts into song (even though sometimes I’m guilty of randomly singing or dancing), but  if you want to get involved in a cappella on campus or just go to shows on weekends you will have no trouble with that here. Over spring break the a cappella group that I’m a member of, The Mainliners, went to Johns Hopkins to sing with a few of their on-campus groups. It was a blast to perform, hear other groups, and to be able to get to know some fellow students outside of the Tri-Co (Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore).

The Haverford College Mainliners

The Haverford College Mainliners

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Snowy Midterm Season

Even though Spring Break is right around the corner, it doesn’t look like Spring just yet in Philly. Today we had a snow day, and so I took the opportunity to get ahead on my Midterm Exams.

One of my favorite things about Haverford, and specifically its Honor Code, is that my professors trust me and expect me to do the right thing. So, my Microfinance professor assigned us a timed, take-home, closed-book test to do at some point in the week when we had time. Here’s me, cozy and warm in my apartment with a mug of tea as the snow continues to fall outside, just about to take my exam!


I’ve set a timer for 60 minutes. Wish me luck!!

Study Abroad: Exploring Paris

Eiffel Tower

Hello from Europe! I am currently studying abroad with Sweet Briar College’s Junior Year in France Paris program, one of FIVE Haverford-approved study abroad programs in France alone. The Study Abroad Office has approved over 60 programs in 40 countries and on every continent except Antarctica—if you might be interested in studying abroad, you have options!

Even before I started applying to colleges, I was 100% sure I wanted to study abroad and 80% sure I wanted to go to Paris…but if you’re not as into the whole planning ahead thing, fear not! Haverford helps with every step of the process and can provide you with great resources as you make a decision about studying abroad. About half of all students at Haverford go abroad for a semester in their junior year and some go abroad for the whole year.

Check out my shots of the Eiffel Tower and a panorama of the Paris as seen from the Sacré Coeur. Very cliché, I know, but they’re popular sites for a reason!

Here are some highlights of my time abroad so far: Continue reading

Plenary at Haverford College


Students raise their “Plenary Packets” to vote for a resolution.

Last weekend, Haverford students came together for a unique Haverford tradition: Plenary.

Plenary is a once-per-semester session where the student body meets in the gym to talk about life at Haverford and how we can make revisions to our policies and programs. It is a pillar on which stands our entire system of student self-governance. The Haverford administration trusts us to lead and run Plenary so that we can make administrative decisions and recommendations on our own, and they know that we take the process very seriously.

Two-thirds of the student body must attend in order for Plenary to take place. Students stand and present resolutions on which a two-thirds majority of attendees must vote “yes” on in order to pass. These resolutions can range from the expectations that Student’s Council places upon its members to a recommendation from the student body to remove the college’s paper towels in the interest of environmental sustainability.

This past Sunday, there were nine resolutions, including revisions to the official policies of Honor Council and the ratification of the Honor Code itself.  Continue reading

Tri-College Linguistics Conference

On February 13, Haverford hosted the first Tri-College Undergraduate Linguistics Conference. Linguistics is a Tri-College major at Haverford, which means that Haverford, Swarthmore, and Bryn Mawr share faculty, and students can take courses for the major at all three schools.

At this Tri-Co Conference, undergraduate students from across the country presented on a wide variety of topics.  I was able to attend the first presentation on Right-Node Wrapping, and it was an excellent display of high-quality scholarship produced by an undergraduate.

I also had time to see part of the outstanding keynote lecture from University of Texas at Austin Professor of Linguistics, Richard P. Meier on pointing in sign languages, a topic that encompasses, among other areas, syntax and phonology. Another fascinating area of his keynote was the discussion of psycholinguistics studies comparing pointing in Autistic deaf children of deaf parents to pointing in non-Autistic deaf children of deaf parents.

This gathering of so many undergraduates interested in pursuing projects in linguistics made for an exciting and erudite atmosphere at the conference. If you are interested in the Tri-Co’s thriving linguistics community, check out

Science painting in the snow!

Hi everybody!
This semester, my biochemistry classmates and I are studying the biosynthesis of skyllamycin (an antibiotic) in the soil bacteria Streptomyces. Throughout the semester, we’ve been learning about site directed mutagenesis, protein purification, molecular modeling on the computer, and many other lab techniques. But TODAY we perfected the most important technique of all….snow painting!
Thanks to Fords Against Boredom (a.k.a. FAB) for supplying me an my friend Ali with “snow paint” so we could amuse ourselves by drawing skyllamycin in the snow during our short break between lunch and lab.
~~~~Katie (and Ali!)

Theater, Film, & Food!

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Philadelphia is close and so much fun! Read on for a sampling of what I’ve done in the city this semester.

My suitemate did a summer internship via Haverford’s Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities with the Pig Iron Theater Company. In September when we were both back on campus, she invited me to come along and see what the company had been working on (for free!). The result of the summer’s hard work was 99 Breakups, an experimental, movement-based play about relationships, romantic and otherwise, that just don’t work out. The play was staged in and around the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), so I got to see a lot of great art in addition to a play. Read The New York Times review of the show.

This year was the 23rd Philadelphia Film Festival, so I headed downtown to watch Dietrich Brueggeman’s Stations of the Cross. Ever the film student, this was a movie I’d been wanting to see since I read the catalogue for the Berlinale (one of Europe’s most prestigious festivals) at my summer internship. Nothing like a depressing movie with heavy religious themes to kick off the weekend, am I right?

Alice's birthday dinner downtown.

Alice’s birthday dinner downtown.

Finally, a subject near and dear to every college student’s heart: food. Philly’s got a lot of tasty restaurants. Last Friday I went to University City (the Philly neighborhood surrounding The University of Pennsylvania) to celebrate my friend Alice’s birthday at a trendy sushi restaurant. Alice and I met when I was a PAF in her freshmen apartment last year—proof that Customs isn’t just an orientation program, it’s a friendship-maker! Check out the cute photo of us!

Finals Week


Brandon’s favorite study spot. Photo credit: Jessica Dixon ’16

Happy Finals Week! My favorite place to study at Haverford is this desk on the second tier of the Science Library. Today, I’m preparing to write a paper for my Philosophy of Mind course. In this course, taught by Professor Ian Blecher, we have studied Plato (Philebus and short selections from Phaedrus and Parmenides), Aristotle (De Anima 3, 4, and 5), Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologiae, Question 79), René Descartes (Meditations on First Philosophy 1, 2, and 3), Immanuel Kant (The Critique of Pure Reason), and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (Faith and Knowledge and the preface to The Phenomenology of Spirit).