Greetings from the shores of Lake Mendota,

where Philosophy is alive and growing!

This fall we have been thrilled to teach entirely in-person again; our campus has stayed relatively healthy, and the energy in our classrooms is palpable.

I recently learned (from the National Center for Education Statistics) that in the 2010s, UW-Madison graduated the 8th-most philosophy majors of any college or university in the country.  To me, this confirms that our department, which has always taken great pride in its teaching, is succeeding in coveying to students why philosophy is so important.

And that success is building on itself!  Over the past few years our major has been growing.  This year we will have the most majors we’ve had in a decade; if the trend continues, we’ll soon have more than at any previous time this century.

To keep up with the influx of undergraduates (almost 200 declared measures at last count), the department is growing as well.  We recently tenured Professor Hayley Clatterbuck, and hired new payroll specialist Terri Karls.  (Profiled here.)  We have been accepting more graduate students into our program, who contribute to both our research and teaching missions.

And we are advertising two new faculty positions this year: one in metaphysics, the other in the ethics of computing, data, and information.  The latter hire is part of a “cluster” with the department of Computer Science and the Information School; each unit will hire one faculty member, and the three hires will conduct interdisciplinary work on some of the most pressing issues of our new age.

We also continue to reach beyond the borders of our university and bring philosophy to the public.  Professor Alan Sidelle recently delivered a public lecture on conceptual engineering, which was well-attended both in person and online.  Professor Larry Shapiro has organized a series of public lectures in which a philosopher and a scientist debate a central question: what is life, do we have free will, etc.  Also, Professor Shapiro and Professor Steve Nadler recently published their book When Bad Thinking Happens to Good People: How Philosophy Can Save Us from Ourselves—available now in print and on audiobook!

In personal news, this is the last time I will be writing to you as Chair of our department.  After this academic year I will be handing off the position and taking a sabbatical, to get some downtime and re-engage with my research.  My term as Chair has involved many unexpected challenges, but one of the best parts has been the connections I’ve made with alumni and friends of our department.

As always, I invite you to visit our website at, or to drop by Helen C. White Hall.  I’ll be happy to see you, whether it’s in the Chair’s office or my (slightly smaller) office down the hall.

Happy New Year,
Michael Titelbaum, Chair