Directed Readings

20080417coates2076Independent studies and directed readings may be arranged whenever there is no regular course being offered that covers a student’s special interests. However, since faculty are not financially compensated for teaching independent studies and directed readings, they are under absolutely no obligation to teach these courses.

Given this state of affairs, I want to make it clear under what conditions I will do a directed reading.

  • I will only do one directed reading a term.
  • I will only do a directed reading in areas where I can claim some level of expertise.
  • I generally only do directed readings with one student. However, if a second student wants to join a directed reading they must secure the permission of the first student, who is under no obligation to give it.
  • I am infinitely more likely to agree to a directed reading with a student who is a philosophy major with a high GPA, who has several successful philosophy courses on their transcript, and preferably one who has done well in one or more of my classes. A student who has done only middling work in philosophy should not approach me to do a directed reading.
  • I will not do a directed reading with a student who is carrying any incompletes on their transcript.
  • Finally, a student who does a directed reading with me must understand that it is not a lecture course. Rather, the onus for the success of a directed reading falls squarely on the student because s/he is the one who approached me about doing the reading. I therefore assume that this student will never miss a meeting and will always be prepared, that they will be enthusiastic and inordinately curious about the course material, prepared to author and present quality critiques of the reading every week, focused from the start on a specific project where my area of philosophical expertise can be of help to them, and ready to write a substantial research paper on this topic that is potentially publishable in an undergraduate philosophy journal. In short, the impetus for the reading comes from the student, and I am there to guide their intellectual energy. A listless and underprepared student who is not ready to deeply discuss the assigned readings at all of our meetings will be disappointed in their grade—and a disappointment to me.

Bearing these conditions in mind, if you are still interested in doing a directed reading with me, fill out this form and submit it to me at least one month prior to the start of the term over which you would like to do the reading.