Alumni Profiles: Roger Valdez ’90

Philosophy majors pursue a wide variety of career paths after graduation, including but not limited to law, business, and higher education. Every few weeks, we will be featuring one of our department’s alumni, highlighting how their studies in philosophy have helped them in their post-graduate careers.

Roger Valdez graduated from Puget Sound in 1990 with a major in philosophy. He is now the director of Smart Growth Seattle, an advocacy group that works with the City of Seattle to manage neighborhood growth. He has been profiled in The Stranger, Seattle Met Magazine, and Seattle Times, and also contributes to Forbes Magazine. We asked him how studying philosophy has helped him in his career, and he had this to say:

“Throughout my career in public policy, I have relied on my study of philosophy in four important ways. First, I learned how to argue in philosophy – and I don’t mean just shouting louder than someone on the other side. Philosophy trains the mind to organize ideas and find flaws, inconsistencies, and errors in the other sides arguments. Second, I started to learn how to write in my philosophy classes. Many of the things I learned in my years in the program formed the foundation for the writing I do today. Third, the history of ideas matters; who’d have thought that I’d be quoting from Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program (“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce”) on the local radio station more than 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union (…) Finally, my philosophy education, and more broadly my liberal arts education, has given me a rich context in ideas and culture from which to draw when both understanding where our current world came from and where it might be going.”


Peter O’Meara: Studying Abroad at the Institute of Ideas, London

Peter O’Meara, a Philosophy major, spent the summer of 2016 undertaking an internship at the Institute of Ideas in London. Here’s what he had to say about his experience: “My time in England at the think tank known as the Institute of Ideas proved to be a domain in which my classroom teachings could shine. In the wake of Brexit, and in preparation for our think tank’s most coveted debate forum, I found myself surrounded by the foremost issues of the day. When I was called upon to investigate the issue of Bodily Autonomy, I harkened back to my articles on Oocyte Cryopreservation from Ethics Bowl. Similarly, when attending a debate regarding self-driving cars at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, my experience in Moral Philosophy proved invaluable. When the turmoil brought about by Brexit was at a fervor, my think tank sponsored and attended a university debate on the matter, with both parties citing economic and democratic reasons for leaving and remaining.The application of my philosophy classes in a practical environment demonstrated the power of the subject beyond the ivory tower.”

Racist Things: How Biases Get Materialized in the World, A Talk by Shen-yi Liao

September 23, 2016
Racist Things: How Biases Get Materialized in the World
4:00pm, Trimble Forum
A Philosophy Faculty Talk by Prof. Shen-yi Liao (Puget Sound). We find implicit and explicit racial biases in individuals’ minds. We find conventionalized and codified racial biases in social structures. And, this talk will argue, we find covert and overt racial biases in mundane physical things. The recognition of “racist things” and its relation to other manifestations of racial biases allows us to better understand challenges in changing minds and changing social structures.
Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy


Areté Call for Papers

Areté, the undergraduate journal of Rutgers University’s Department of Philosophy, is now accepting paper submissions for publication in its Spring 2017 issue. Approximately 3 papers will be published, digitally and in print (limited run).

Traditionally, only work from juniors and seniors is encouraged, as analytic rigor is a prerequisite for publication. That being said, any paper of exquisite quality from any field of philosophy is welcome for submission.

Submissions should not exceed 8,000 words, with a cover page, abstract, and citations. For the purpose of blind review, do not include information in the text of your paper that identifies either you as author or the institution you attend. Papers should be submitted via email attachment (from an email address we can use to correspond with you), in Word document or PDF format, to by October 14th, 2016.

Authors of papers accepted for publication will be notified in December.