What is (not) taught at Irish PG programmes?

In mid-2022, Anna Milioni and Jane Hannick, the two Diversity & Inclusion officers of the British & Irish Postgraduate Philosophy Association, decided to follow up on our research and find out how diverse are Irish PG programmes. Since the number of those is much smaller and the number of PG courses available tends to be lower, they managed to look at all of them, including a total of 58 modules from Dublin City University, Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, and University of Galway. Their analysis mirrored our previous work on the British UG programmes: modules were arranged into thematic categories; those which focused on a particular philosopher had that philosopher’s background checked; and a more in-depth analysis was conducted to check how many of the modules contained a significant amount of material focused on issues related to class, colonialism, race and gender.*

In general, the data shows that the modules analysed were somewhat less ‘traditional’ than those taught at the top 10 British UG programmes of 2020-21. However, the results still fall short of what we would like to see in the discipline.

The topics

Below, you can see two graphs showing the spread of topics taught. The first focuses on more general thematic categories, in the second we divide them further into a more detailed list of sub-categories. Here are some of the most striking things to note:

  • Only 1.7% of all modules focus on any of the four broad topics of class, colonialism, race or gender.
    • This includes two modules, one of which partially focused on feminist philosophy, the other on professional ethics.
  • More than 11% of all modules focus on any philosophical tradition other than the Western Analytic tradition.
    • However, more than three quarters focus on other traditions of European origin.
    • Not a single module focuses on Native American, African, or Islamic philosophy.

The content

Following the same methods we used in the analysis of the British UG modules, we investigated whether modules which were not explicitly devoted to the broad category of class, colonialism, gender and race, nevertheless contain a significant amount of content tackling those issues. As before, we used three labels describing the amount of such content:

  • Minimal or none – the module contains no such content, or only token content appears in the last week of teaching
  • Some – at least one non-token lecture is substantially focused on such content
  • Significant- at least 30% of the module is devoted to such content.

As you can see on the following graph, the proportion of modules which have at least some content related to class, colonialism, gender and race, is much higher than in the UG modules from the top 10 British departments. Over a quarter of all modules had at least some such content.

The thinkers

15 of the 58 modules we analysed focused on the work of one or more specific philosophers. We wanted to check who those philosophers were and what were those modules about.

After the shock of finding that exactly 100% were devoted to white men at top 10 British UG programmes, we were happy to find that at least some of the Irish PG modules looked at the work of non-white men (in particular, Japanese philosophers), and women (including one module devoted to Stein, and another partially devoted to modern feminist philosophers).

* All of the syllabi were for the academic year of 2021/22.