Annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

Southern Utah University’s Annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference, hosted by the Philosophy Club in conjunction with Professors Gretchen Ellefson, Kirk Fitzpatrick, and Kristopher Phillips, celebrates undergraduate scholarship here at SUU. Each conference features a keynote speaker chosen from distinguished philosophy professors across the nation with workshops and commentaries by members of the Philosophy Club and other philosophy students.

Testimonials from Participants at the 2020 Conference

My experience at SUU’s philosophy conference was truly special. From planning to execution, the professors, staff, and students were constantly on the ball, making sure everything I needed was taken care of. With travel, hotel, and every meal covered, there were virtually no costs to attend — only benefits! The feedback I received from my student commentators was professional and helpful, providing both objections to my arguments and suggestions for reorganization in future drafts. Such thoughtful engagement with my paper continued from the audience during the Q and A at the conference, and I loved every second of it! I was also extremely impressed with the other presenters and the keynote speaker, and it was an honor to share a spot on the program with them. Beyond everyone’s philosophical acuity, the students and faculty were also very friendly and enthusiastic. The conversations they facilitated typified the ideal philosophical discussion: passionate but not adversarial, inquisitive but not belligerent. It’s clear that SUU’s philosophy department is extremely dedicated to its students, and I am grateful to have been a part of that this weekend. I know I have grown as a student and thinker from this wonderful experience that I’ll never forget. Thank you all for putting it together!

- Spencer Caro (University of Georgia)

The SUU Undergraduate Philosophy Conference was my first academic conference, and I couldn’t be more pleased. The SUU Philosophy faculty took excellent care of me, and along with the students, provided me with excellent questions and experiences that I hope to take with me as I continue to study and do philosophy. This conference was phenomenal, and I wish that every dedicated student of philosophy could have the experience of attending.

- Kenneth Black (Southern Virginia University)

I am so grateful I had the opportunity to present my work at SUU's Sixth Annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. The faculty and students of SUU were gracious hosts who created an environment that was highly conducive to philosophical productivity. They provided presenters with exceptional accommodations in boarding and in meals. The attendees were welcoming, and I was impressed by how excited they were to engage with the presenters' research and discuss our papers. I received several stimulating questions during my presentation, and continued to speak with attendees about my work through the rest of the conference. The questions they asked and the critical feedback they provided were immensely insightful for helping me identify where my paper needs the most growth. The formal commenting system was especially beneficial for challenging me to strengthen my paper, and I am grateful to receive such meaningful feedback from other undergraduate philosophy students. Incidentally, the philosophy community at SUU is also filled with a fun and lively group of people. The professional and rigorous experience provided by the SUU conference is invaluable, and I encourage all serious philosophy students to submit their work. I have never been more inspired and enamored with philosophy than when I attended SUU's conference.

- Claire Thompson (California Lutheran University)

Thank you again for inviting me to keynote your truly fantastic undergraduate conference! I was really impressed by the quality of the papers selected and the amazing performance of both the visiting speakers and the SUU philosophy students. The commentary of on the papers was helpful and insightful, and the questions from the audience of faculty and students (past and present!) was really engaging. The overall atmosphere at the conference was both professional and congenial, and the level of interest and participation throughout the day was strong. I had a great time and would highly recommend the conference to both colleagues and my students!

- Dr. Marcy Lascano (University of Kansas)

Testimonials from Participants at the 2019 Conference

My experience at SUU’s Fifth Undergraduate Philosophy Conference was beyond anything I could have expected. It was a truly positive and memorable first experience in academic philosophy, for me. The conference itself nurtured a simultaneously intellectual, friendly, and professional atmosphere that made it easy to interact with the outgoing students and faculty. It was extremely well-organized and the effort that the organizers put into the conference was apparent from the thoughtful preparation for the presentations, to the logistics of ensuring that all the participants were having a good experience throughout the weekend. From the very beginning, I felt welcome by the faculty and students at SUU. The choice of catering for the conference was great, as well as the reception. I was able to make connections with faculty and fellow students, and the diversity of interests among the conference participants made for a genuinely enlightening and insightful event. Furthermore, the selection of the keynote speaker, Rebecca LeMoine, was ideal; she offered intriguing and relevant ideas that I, and surely many others, have continued to reflect upon after the conference. In sum, the remarkable organization and atmosphere of the event—from the thorough preparation of the commentaries for the participants’ papers to the engaging students and faculty that clearly put their full effort forward for this conference and radiated with excitement throughout—has made this a wonderful experience that I will treasure throughout my academic career.

- Zuzanna Lutrzykowska (University of Michigan)

My experience at SUU Philosophy Conference is one that I will always remember! It surpassed my expectations because it held a friendly and constructive atmosphere throughout the days that I was there. The other participants and keynote speaker were very nice and I hope to stay in contact with them. The professors and the students of SUU are very genuine people that made my first experience at a conference amazing! I was surprised so many people were engaged in my research and wanted to discuss it more after my presentation. The commentary was very constructive and positive, and they really supported my paper. I will definitely be using their suggestions when I continue my research into caring labor. By being provided travel, a pleasant room, and food while I was there definitely made the trip more pleasurable. Even though I was here for only a few days, I know if I was a philosophy major at this school, I would love it because the professors engage and challenge their students sufficiently to prepare them for graduate schools and their future careers. The generosity and the friendliness kept the impression that the SUU philosophy program is a program that needs to continue to flourish, so it can resume to give more positive influence on the students within and outside of SUU.

I can't thank you enough for giving me the opportunity to travel and experience a philosophy conference. Your hospitality and sociability was the cherry on top for this trip. Philosophy will always be a large part of my life, even if I continue my education in psychology. I would do this experience again in a heartbeat. I will miss being in Utah and being around all of you!

- Christine Griffith (William Paterson University)

Without a doubt, I can say that this was the most put-together, professional, and inviting conference environment that I have ever been part of. For one, we presenters were provided with comfortable hotel rooms in a convenient location, transportation to and from the conference, several full meals, and (for those who flew into the conference), flight accommodations. As impressive as the “compensation” for our participation was, it was surpassed in scope by the amount of support of, interest in, and engagement with our work on the part of the faculty and students. Not only were we assigned two student readers who dove into our work and generated insightful comments and objections beforehand, we were, in addition, greeted with enthusiastic questions from the audience during the question and answer session. The level of erudition and insight demonstrated by both faculty and staff--both in the question and answer and in the many cordial conversations held before, during, and after the conference--was nothing short of astounding. Moreover, all the comments were delivered with enthused curiosity: not once did I feel attacked. I left with the sense that I had just caught a glimpse of a community of people who are committed to philosophical and personal growth.

So, it is no mere hyperbole for me to say that participation in this conference stands as the highlight of my academic career thus far. I walked away from this conference with new friends, new professional relationships, offers to look at future drafts of my paper, and a feeling of well-being in regards to the state of academic philosophy. I am excited to see what the future holds Southern Utah University’s Philosophy Program.

- Daniel C. Smith (University of Utah)

I have never had a more positive experience at an academic conference than I did at SUU’s undergraduate philosophy conference. Dr. Phillips and Dr. Fitzpatrick have developed a program that is truly impressive and rare. The conference did something that most undergraduate conferences do not do, which is provide the time for a thorough presentation as well as commentary and questioning. The commentary that I received on my paper written by two undergraduates was extremely beneficial and relevant for future drafts of my paper. There was an atmosphere of respect during the commentary and questioning that I was extremely impressed by and grateful for. I walked away from this conference with not only valuable experience concerning presenting the paper, but also with suggestions on how to improve my paper that I will unquestionably use. The student involvement with this conference and the undeniable enthusiasm for philosophical inquiry among the students and professors in this department is inspiring. Next year, I plan on circulating the call for papers to the undergraduates in my department as this conference is a phenomenal experience that cannot be found elsewhere.

- Amanda Loeffelholz (DePaul University)

It was truly an honor to give the keynote address for the SUU Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. I was not only impressed with the quality of the undergraduate papers presented at the conference, but also with the insightful and constructive feedback from the SUU student commentators. It was clear that the commentators had put a lot of work into preparing for the conference, and that the format of assigning two commentators per paper worked well. Their comments were polished and remarkably professional in tone, which helped to establish a friendly environment for the Q&A following each presentation. By the time of my keynote address, I felt more at ease and excited to share my ideas with such an inquisitive, yet respectful audience. From my perspective, my talk and the Q&A afterwards flew by; I was simply enjoying myself, having a good conversation with a room full of interested interlocutors. Nearly all of the questions were on point and helped to push me to flesh out some of the ideas presented in my talk. Moreover, the dinner afterwards offered a delightful opportunity to continue discussing these ideas, as well as learn more about the students and program at SUU. Overall, I left the conference with a very positive judgment of the philosophy program at SUU. I do not have a single negative thing to say about my experience, and I’m genuinely thrilled that there are still universities out there that recognize the value of philosophical education and are willing to support events, such as this conference, that play a crucial role in sparking interest in and furthering that education.

- Dr. Rebecca LeMoine (Florida Atlantic University)

To learn about current and previous conferences, visit Professor Kristopher Phillips’ website.