Monday, August 11, 2008

The History of the PSA and Getting into the EGS

Many thanks to all y'all that have sent me congratulatory statements upon being admitted to the European Graduate School, I hope I do ya proud.

No seriously, I do.

Kristy asked how I got into the EGS and I thought I'd share.

I wrote about working with my friends in the Philosophy Student Association (PSA). Actually, the last three positions I've taken I have discussed at length my work with the PSA because it has been great work so far (because I believe that we will continue to do awesome shit).

Here's what I wrote, actually:

My work with the Philosophy Student Association (PSA), I think best exemplifies my fierce independence of thought and need for creativity in my scholastic endeavors. I come from a small state university on the outskirts Atlanta, Georgia (USA), a city Rem Koolhaas described as the Postmodern city – a city without a center. Kennesaw State University, during the eight years I attended, went from a junior college to the third largest university in the state and with that growth came tremendous resources with few students taking advantage of this opportunity. In step a small group of intellectually gifted and exceptionally-motivated undergraduates that would thirst for something beyond receiving a degree that emphasized only skills training. We met in an Asian Philosophies class.

Kennesaw during this time saw the median age of its student body go from 35 to 23 which meant that the PSA largely consisted of students between 21 and 25, the university describes that demographic as "nontraditional." Among the membership were several artists (two of whom were working as tattoo artists in the metro area), a full-time high school teacher, a full-time elementary school teacher, and several students such as myself that were supporting ourselves and paying our own way through our undergraduate years. We all shared a certain degree of irreverence and a desire to overcome the general malaise, the overall suburban Americanism, that Kennesaw had been steeping in for the previous decade. The Philosophy Student Association began with a sketch that one of the members had created during a lecture on the Buddhist rejection of Hinduism. I recognized that brand identity was the crucial step needed in order to begin our work and so this sketch became a limited run of stickers which we could use to cover over the Coca-Cola and Home Depot (both based in Atlanta) logos that had become ubiquitous on our campus. This logo, "Sophia," would be placed on all works we produced as a collective. So far, five of our original members have had this logo tattooed onto our bodies, we joke that we are a "blood in, blood out" community.

As the Philosophy Student Association we created the annual North Georgia Student Philosophy Conference (NGSPC), an international conference held over two days in the spring. The NGSPC publishes an annual journal, selected proceedings which feature original works by scholars such as David Farrell Krell and Henry Rosemont, Jr, and Walter Brogan. I served for five years as head of the selection committee for the conference as well as the selected proceedings. We, the students, found the funding, we coordinated all the logistics for hosting the conferences, and we were entirely responsible for the layout and design of each journal. The PSA was responsible for what has been described by professors at other universities in the southeast as, "the best philosophy lecture series in the region," the Mike Ryan Lecture Series. This lecture series, named after a member that tragically died at the PSA's inception, brought world-renowned scholars and artists such as Graham Parkes, Saul Williams, David Wood, P.J. Ivanhoe, and Robert Bernusconi. Again, we, the students, found all the funding and coordinated all the logistics for each of these events, including setting up and breaking down the tables and chairs. The Philosophy Student Association generated a monthly newsletter, "Sophia," in which we published student précis (again all design and logistics were directed and executed by us). We created an online journal, OtherWise, which seeks to foster and encourage undergraduates to engage comparative and continental philosophies. The PSA was awarded "Best Student Organization of the Year" for five years in a row for our exceptional dedication to improving the quality of discourse in our community. My friends and I accomplished all of this without a Philosophy major, there was no structural support from the faculty of the Philosophy faculty with the noted exception of David Jones (or advisor) and Tom Pynn.

So, I really want to thank all of my friends that contributed to that work and I encourage you to continue to think about the great work you've done so far and use these experiences garnered to date to really break-out from the tediocrity that surrounds us.

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