Expect growth in evolving philosophy department

By on March 31, 2010

The history of undergraduate philosophy courses offered at colleges and universities has primarily consisted of traditional courses in philosophy (Introduction to Philosophy, Logic, Ethics, History of Philosophy, Metaphysics and Epistemology). Upper level courses are also presented on a philosophical movement, a particular philosopher and an array of “philosophy of” courses.

Since the late 1960s, there has been a movement in philosophy to create more courses that are relevant to students’ needs and interests. During my professorship at the University of Bridgeport from 1969-1994, I initiated courses in applied ethics and philosophical topics (Business and Computer Ethics, Philosophy of the Person and Philosophy of Sex and Love). This trend toward selected topics has continued to the present and the applied ethics area has been expanded to include legal ethics, feminist ethics, bioethics, nursing ethics, and environmental ethics. Even the established philosophy programs at Rutgers, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M have introduced special topics and applied ethics courses. Most noteworthy are: Philosophical Ideas in Film and Science Fiction; Philosophy and Black Experience; Ethics of Race and Gender; and Ethics and Engineering.

Philosophy is evolving and the traditional courses in philosophy have had a limited value for most university students. However, nontraditional courses in applied ethics and philosophical topics have received tremendous support. The applied ethics courses are useful to students with different majors who are concerned with ethical issues in their discipline. Philosophical topics enable students to explore philosophical ideas within a particular area of interest.

The philosophy program at Quinnipiac University, under the leadership of Professor Ben Page, offers a variety of both traditional and nontraditional philosophy courses for student created independent majors, joint-majors, minors, and other interested students. These students manage a philosophy club called Sophia that meets weekly to discuss a variety of philosophical issues. The philosophy faculty has been instrumental in teaching both traditional and applied ethics courses. This has included the following courses in applied ethics: Bioethics, Law and Ethics, Ethics of War and Peace, and Ethics and Human Rights. They have also taught philosophy courses dealing with special topics. The most noteworthy ones are: Philosophy of Sex and Love; Life and Life after Death; Philosophy of Gender; Evil, Suffering and Faith; and Philosophy of the Future. The high student demand for the courses Philosophy of Sex and Love and Life and Life after Death has resulted in creating two sections of these courses. For the fall 2010 semester, the following new courses will be available: Philosophy of Humor; Philosophy of Sport; Philosophy as a Way of Life; Philosophy of Money; and Ethics of Compassion. In the future, medical ethics and environmental philosophy may be offered. Some philosophy departments in the United States offer a few nontraditional courses each semester, however, Quinnipiac’s approach is unique since the majority of its philosophy offerings are nontraditional ones.

For many years our philosophy teachers have demonstrated their versatility and breadth of knowledge in team teaching such courses as: Bioethics; Globalization, and The Thought and Work of Albert Schweitzer. They have also played a key role in instituting service learning at Quinnipiac and currently participate in the program. Additionally, some philosophy teachers have been teaching QU 101 and courses in QU 201 and 301. Anat Biletzki, Albert Schweitzer Visiting Professor, has developed and taught both standard and selected topics courses in philosophy. She has held faculty seminars for the past two years on the philosophy of human rights and Albert Schweitzer’s philosophy of reverence for life. The annual Stiernotte lecture in philosophy also provides our students and faculty the opportunity to meet and converse with a prominent philosopher.

Philosophy plays an important role at Quinnipiac University. It offers standard philosophy courses and independent study opportunities, a large selection of applied ethics and philosophical topics courses, collaboration with other faculty in team teaching, participation in service-learning and QU courses, faculty seminars, a philosophy club and a yearly lecture by a contemporary philosopher. The long-standing relevance and popularity of philosophy at Quinnipiac is a strong indication that its program will experience a greater growth in the near future.

Edward D’Angelo,
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy

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