Exciting changes to curriculum encourage exploration

Philosophy students, like most liberal arts majors, are curious. They enjoy exploring different disciplines and applying lessons learned in a philosophy classroom throughout their Colorado State University experience and far beyond. The Department of Philosophy has recognized this admirable curiosity and the intellectual and emotional rewards of satisfying it. In the past several years the Department has revised thoroughly its curricula, believing that the new, more liberally constructed curricula will help to stimulate and satisfy student curiosity and help to satiate a thirst for broader understanding of all that Philosophy has to offer. After a two-year review, assessment, and collaborative re-visioning process, the undergraduate philosophy curricula have undergone a long-overdue updating that faculty believe will encourage students to take a broader variety of philosophy courses and prepare them for careers post-graduation.

The Undergraduate Committee, including Philosophy faculty members Matt MacKenzie, Jeff Kasser, and Michael McCulloch, began in 2014-2015 with a close look at philosophy programs at peer institutions and other degree programs in the College of Liberal Arts.

The philosophy major has retained its three concentrations: General Philosophy, Global Philosophies and Religions, and Philosophy, Science, and Technology. However, the degree plan now consists of 36 credits, rather than 42, and it offers a variety of course options in areas of philosophy the faculty think are important, including the history of philosophy, metaphysics and epistemology, ethics, and diverse perspectives. Perhaps the biggest changes have come to the minor in philosophy, moving from two separate minors (philosophy and religious studies) to just one flexible minor with a very limited number of set requirements.

“Now, students may tailor the minor in any number of ways. If they are interested in law, then courses in logic, ethics, and social and political theory are perfect. Students in environmental studies can choose from a range of courses in sustainability, environmental ethics, and philosophy of science,” says MacKenzie.

Undergrad Director Matt MacKenzie advises students on degree programs.

In addition, two new 15-credit certificates in Philosophy have become available in Spring 2017: Ethics and Society, and World Philosophies and Religions. These focused certificates provide a deeper study of one area of philosophy and are a great addition a student’s resume.

The department will be assessing the extent to which the curriculum changes impact students and believe it will not only lead to an increase in the number of philosophy majors and minors but also enhance student education, critical and analytical thinking, and understanding of both root and diverse philosophical traditions.

“We recognize that a degree in philosophy offers a well-rounded education with broad skills in critical thinking and creative problem-solving that is applicable to many career paths,” MacKenzie explains. “My experience with students tells me that they really like the changes, and they’re finding double-majoring to be much easier.”