professor in animated discussion with roundtable of studentsProfessor Marcello Guarini leads consideration of philosophical questions during a salon for high school students.

Salon engages secondary students in philosophical discussion

Recently, the Department of Philosophy hosted its first-ever Philosophy Salon Event, drawing approximately 120 students from three Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board secondary schools: Assumption, St. Anne, and St. Joseph’s.

The event was the brainchild of alumna and current high school teacher, Taunia Piknjac Phillips (BA 1994, B.Ed 2004), who approached philosophy professor Jeff Noonan to make this idea become a reality.

Students were welcomed by Cheryl Collier, dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, and Sheri Lowrie, the faculty’s recruitment and outreach co-ordinator.

Each table discussion was led by either a faculty member or a senior philosophy student. Participants included professors Cate Hundleby and Marcello Guarini and students Sofia Piknjac Phillips, Izaak Piknjac Phillips, Matt Ribble, Dylan Menard, Albert Behm, and Tina Wadhawa.

Topics ranged from a consideration of the nature of philosophy through metaphysics, ethics, science and artificial intelligence, and aesthetics. Each discussion lasted 30 minutes, followed by a pizza lunch and closing remarks by Dr. Noonan.

The salon returned philosophy to its roots in the free flow of give and take, question and answer. The high schoolers reported that they enjoyed the freedom from the confines of the classroom and the opportunity to explore philosophical problems with their university peers.

“The energy and inquisitiveness of the secondary school students fuelled the day,” Noonan says. “The philosophy students and those of my colleagues who participated all agree that it should become a regular event.”

—Susan McKee