Carolyn Swanson, Department Chair, Philosophy, Vancouver Island University

Carolyn Swanson, Department Chair, Philosophy, Vancouver Island University

BY: as told by Carolyn Swanson / written by Catherine Nygren

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Carolyn SwansonI graduated with a PhD in philosophy in 2006. I received some funding throughout the degree, through internal scholarships and teaching assistantships, but I also worked externally to support myself. Before completing my doctorate, I had worked in the civil service—in Immigration—for the federal and provincial governments. I had also taught philosophy as a sessional instructor for the University of Victoria (online classes) and for Vancouver Island University (VIU), then-called “Malaspina University-College.”

I landed a permanent position at VIU in 2007, and have been working there ever since, which has been a rewarding experience. The teaching assistantships I did as a graduate student provided a great learning opportunity and were good preparation for my teaching career.

Because I teach philosophy, my education is directly relevant to my job. However, the skills honed through philosophy—clear writing, careful reflection, and critical thinking—are important for a lot of jobs. When I worked for the federal government, I had to decide on humanitarian and compassionate applications for immigration to Canada. It involved being able to carefully articulate and defend difficult decisions. When I worked for the provincial government, I had to do research into the labour market and develop program procedures and policies as part of a team. I also had to survey program participants and analyze data in evaluating the program. Being able to think critically and reflectively definitely helped.

Carolyn SwansonI graduated with a PhD in philosophy in 2006. I received some funding throughout the degree, through internal scholarships and teaching assistantships, but I also worked externally to support myself. Before completing my doctorate, I had worked in the civil service—in Immigration—for the federal and provincial governments. I had also taught philosophy as a sessional instructor for the University of Victoria (online classes) and for Vancouver Island University (VIU), then-called “Malaspina University-College.”

I landed a permanent position at VIU in 2007, and have been working there ever since, which has been a rewarding experience. The teaching assistantships I did as a graduate student provided a great learning opportunity and were good preparation for my teaching career.

Because I teach philosophy, my education is directly relevant to my job. However, the skills honed through philosophy—clear writing, careful reflection, and critical thinking—are important for a lot of jobs. When I worked for the federal government, I had to decide on humanitarian and compassionate applications for immigration to Canada. It involved being able to carefully articulate and defend difficult decisions. When I worked for the provincial government, I had to do research into the labour market and develop program procedures and policies as part of a team. I also had to survey program participants and analyze data in evaluating the program. Being able to think critically and reflectively definitely helped.

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