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Site Visit Program

Background and Goals:

The APA has a clear interest in and responsibility for improving the climate for women in Philosophy departments. Moreover, working to improve the climate for women, improves the climate for everyone.  Good climate makes a difference for job satisfaction and productivity.

The APA Committee on the Status of Women has established a site visit program. The goal and activities of the program are based on a significant body of research and best practices developed over the past decade by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program. Specific goals of the APA-CSW-sponsored site visits include:

    Gaining information in a systematic way about the range and variety of women’s and minorities’ experiences in Philosophy that contribute to the ongoing underrepresentation of women and minorities in the field.

    Informing departments, where necessary, about challenges women and philosophers of other underrepresented groups face, drawing on first person reports and social science research.

    Helping departments analyze the climate issues particular to their own setting.

    Making recommendations based on proven best practices.

Prior to the Visit:

Normally, site visits would be conducted at the request of a department chair, in consultation with the faculty.  The chair will be sent more detailed expectations tied to site visits found in the document, "APA CSW Site Visit Program: Site Visit Process and Expectations." Once the chair has agreed to the process and expectations outlined in this document, the site visit will proceed.  These visits will be tailored to the needs of the department.  Once a date is agreed upon, a team normally comprised of three philosophers, including at least two women, will be assembled.  To request a site visit, the Chair of a Department should send an email to the Director of the Site Visit Program requesting a visit, a proposed time frame for the visit, and the reasons for the visit.

The chair will prepare a report providing information about the department, which can include: the undergraduate and graduate curriculum with sample syllabi, demographic data for undergraduate classes, majors, graduate student admissions and placement, faculty appointments, the most recent Visiting Committee report (where applicable), etc.  In addition, faculty/students/employees will be asked to complete a confidential survey, for the team's use only.

During the Visit:

Members of the site visit team meet with the Philosophy department’s Chair and others in leadership positions in the department, e.g., the Director of Graduate Studies.  The specific plan for meetings with groups within the department will vary, depending on the particular structure and needs of the department in question.  However, it will be important to provide opportunities for members of underrepresented and/or vulnerable groups to speak confidentially to the team. Members of the team would make it a point to speak with faculty members in Philosophy (or related areas), lecturers, office staff, graduate students, and undergraduates, in addition to others.  Opportunities will be available for anyone to speak to the team individually, if requested.   The team would also meet with the Dean of the School in which Philosophy is located, and other administrators responsible for faculty appointments, hiring, tenure and promotion. The goal of these meetings is to provide the site visit team with the quantitative and qualitative information they need to assess the climate for women and members of other underrepresented groups in the host facility. 

After the Visit:

The team will write a report for the Department Chair (or whoever requested the visit), detailing the findings of the visit and offering practical suggestions on improving the climate for women. The team will maintain strict confidentiality about its findings and will send the report only to the person(s) requesting the site visit. The Chair is encouraged to share the report with the rest of the department.  Approximately 12-18 months after the visit, the Department Chair will be asked to respond in writing to the team, describing actions taken to improve the conditions for women and other underrepresented groups.  The list of departments that wish to publicize that they have undergone site visits will be maintained on the CSW’s website.

Site Visits that Assess the Climate for other Underrepresented Groups:

The team will be attentive to issues beyond gender, e.g., race, sexuality, disability, and will make an effort to collect quantitative data on these groups.  In some cases, it will be impossible to separate the ways in which gender and race/sexuality, etc. are playing a role in the climate, and the team will not make an effort to “separate out” the different factors, but will offer suggestions that are sensitive to intersectional issues. Our training for site visit team members will cover issues beyond gender, including the ways that gender intersects with other social categories, but the team members will not present themselves as experts on the many ways that hierarchy can manifest itself in academia. As the CSW-sponsored site visit program evolves, the CSW hopes to coordinate with the members of other APA Inclusiveness Committees, so that they too can participate in and co-sponsor particular site visits, when appropriate.  If a department or dean requests that the site visit focus on issues concerning underrepresented groups, the CSW team would be happy to collaborate with the APA Inclusiveness Committee to coordinate efforts.

Site Visit Program Key Personnel:

Director, Peggy DesAutels, University of Dayton 

Associate Director, Carla Fehr, University of Waterloo

Associate Director, Sally Haslanger, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Institutional Sponsors for the Seeding of a CSW-sponsored Site Visit Program:

The American Philosophical Association

The American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division

The American Philosophical Association, Inclusiveness Committee

The American Philosophical Association, Committee on the Status of Women

The American Philosophical Association, Committee on the Status of Blacks in Philosophy

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Philosophy

University of Dayton, Office of the Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences

University of Dayton, Department of Philosophy

University of Dayton, Women's and Gender Studies Program

University of Dayton, Office of Alumni Chair in Humanities

Relationship of the APA CSW Site Visit Program to the American Philosophical Association:

The Site Visit Program operates independently of the American Philosophical Association, and as such, site visit team members and site visit reports do not represent the association itself.

The Site Visit Program was initially conceived by members of the APA's Committee on the Status of Women, and the program's director serves on that committee in an ex officio capacity. The committee advises and supports the program; the APA has provided limited financial support for the program and the APA national office accepts payments on behalf of the Site Visit Program. However, neither the APA nor the Committee on the Status of Women oversee the Site Visit Program and its operations.

Site Visit Teams:

Normally, members of the site visit teams are tenured members of the profession with a demonstrated commitment to diversity through service work and/or research.  They participated in the one-day Site Visit Training Workshop held June 1, 2013 and attended the Diversity in Philosophy Conference that was held at University of Dayton, May 29-31, 2013.

A second Site Visit Training Workshop will be held May 31, 2015 immediately following the Diversity in Philosophy Conference to be held at Villanova University, May 28-30, 2015.  To apply to participate in this workshop, please email Peggy DesAutels (peggy.desautels@gmail.com) with a paragraph describing your interest in being trained as a site visitor and an attached CV.  Spaces in the workshop are limited.

Those trained to be site visit team members are diverse with regard to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and other social categories.


Site Visit Feedback from the Philosophy Department at the University of Miami:

The faculty and graduate students of the philosophy department at the University of Miami would like to thank the members of the site visit team dispatched by the APA Committee on the Status of Women as part of their Site Visit Program. The team’s visit to our campus (March 2014) was a highly positive experience for the department and we received a very constructive and helpful report. We expect to make a number of changes in our customary practices and departmental policies based on its recommendations. We strongly endorse both the goals and methods of the Site Visit Program and recommend it to other departments that aim to assess and improve climate issues.


Additional Questions:

If you have additional questions or your department wishes to request a visit, please contact the Director of the Site Visit Program, Peggy DesAutels, at peggy.desautels@gmail.com .



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