Philosophy department expanding, major coming

By on February 28, 2012

Quinnipiac is adding a new Philosophy Program to its undergraduate curriculum starting in the fall.

The department has worked to create and develop the few more courses needed to establish a full-fledged philosophy program. The department was also given permission to hire two new full-time philosophy professors, who will begin working in August.

The Faculty Senate proposed this idea to its Academic Policies Committee last fall, and the Senate approved of the inclusion of the major at its first meeting in January, according to Sean Duffy, chair of the philosophy and political science department. The State of Connecticut’s Department of Education still needs to certify the major, which is leaning toward approval soon, Duffy said.

Many Arts & Sciences faculty members, like Duffy, have waited long enough for this change.

“[It’s] about time that Quinnipiac added this major,” Duffy said. “It was really quite embarrassing that we didn’t have it.”

Students have left Quinnipiac because they could not major in philosophy, while other students elected to design their own personalized, independent major in philosophy, according to Duffy. Five students have chosen to do this in the past three years and there are three independent philosophy majors on campus right now.

About 300 students take philosophy 101 every semester, and other courses such as “Ethics and Human Values,” “Logical Reasoning,” and “Philosophy of Sex and Love” have always attracted a great deal of students, Duffy said.

The philosophy club SOPHIA’s active voice on campus also gave the philosophy department the idea to expand.

“It just makes sense to offer a philosophy degree,” Duffy said. “Philosophy is one of the — if not the oldest — academic pursuits in the Western tradition of which Quinnipiac is a part. It’s all about developing the mind, the ability to think critically, reflectively and logically.”

The department will be offering about 25 to 30 200-level philosophy courses. This will include a senior seminar, mandatory core courses and several electives ranging from historical courses to topical courses. The program will also offer several more specialized courses on applied ethics, particular philosophers and specific philosophical questions.

Quinnipiac has had a philosophy minor for many years, which has facilitated the structuring of the philosophy program, as many of the courses needed for a major are already in place.

Duffy noted in particular that with a medical school being added to the university in a few years, there will be numerous opportunities to create interdisciplinary courses in medical and biomedical ethics, such as the philosophy of science. These courses, according to Duffy, could enhance the education of those interested in pursuing a career in medicine and other health professions.

The department has developed about six new upper-level courses, and have converted some courses offered on an ad-hoc basis in the past few years to become permanent options in the course catalog, Duffy said.

“There will always be a rich selection of courses to choose from,” Duffy said. “Whether a student is interested in majoring in philosophy or is simply interested in supplementing their major course of study with interesting and mind-building courses in philosophy.”

All new courses have been submitted to the Registrar, and descriptions will soon be available for viewing online and in the printed Course Catalog.

“We aren’t limiting our goals to working only with Philosophy majors and minors,” Duffy said. “We’re very much interested in being a central and integral part of the culture at Quinnipiac.”

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