Philosophy Department Mission
The primary mission of the Philosophy Department is to provide students a rigorous undergraduate education in philosophy. Socrates said that the philosophical life begins in θαῦμα, or wonder – the suspension of commonplace assumptions that awakens genuine intellectual curiosity. The study of philosophy promotes this spirit of questioning and inquiry. By engaging the range of historical and contemporary philosophical debates, students hone their skills of critical reasoning and argumentation, deepen their understanding of the ethical dimensions of their decision-making, and learn to live an examined life.
Our mission goals are:
1) To provide an intellectually rigorous education in the history of philosophy, and in the field of philosophical thought (broadly conceived to include the major philosophical-religious traditions) for students in our major and minor programs.
2) To contribute to undergraduate general education – in particular, to student achievement in critical thinking, argumentative writing, and the careful reading of primary texts – through course offerings that fulfill Tier 1, 2, or 3 requirements.
3) To provide instruction in contemporary philosophical perspectives on ethical, legal and social issues, through course offerings in the philosophy of education, biomedical ethics, computer ethics and the philosophy of law.
4) To advance the mission espoused by the University in all other respects, as outlined in the following.
Compliance with University Mission Goals
University mission goals are stated, detailed, and discussed in the SCSU publication, “Pursuing Excellence, Fostering Leadership, Empowering Communities: A Strategic Plan for Southern Connecticut State University 2007-2012.” SCSU core values are Excellence, Access, Diversity, Student Success, Life-Long Learning, and Community Involvement. The Philosophy Department shares these core values.
Excellence. Our faculty are committed to excellence in teaching, research and creative activity. We challenge students to achieve academic and intellectual excellence, as embodied in the ideal of a liberal education. In particular the Department seeks to cultivate in students the skills of critical reasoning and argumentative writing, the confidence and resources to grapple with difficult texts, an appreciation of the history of ideas, a sensitivity to aesthetic expression, and an attentiveness to the ethical dimensions of the decisions we face as a society and globally. These aims are reflected in our major and minor programs in Philosophy and Religious Studies, and in course offerings that support other University programs – among them, programs in Nursing, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, and Education.
The Department houses the Religious Studies Minor Program, with extensive course offerings in the world's major religious traditions. Our faculty take an active role in the intellectual life of the University, and the Department regularly hosts colloquia and special lectures by visiting scholars. It also houses the peer-reviewed journal Metaphilosophy, and is the home of the Research Center on Computing and Society.
Access. The philosophy major and minor, and the religious-studies minor, are open to all SCSU students, as are all of the Department's course offerings, subject to pre-requisite requirements. We reach out to students at the University's regular “majors' expositions,” and through weekly meetings of the Philosophy Club, which welcomes students of all majors, and is open to the public.
Diversity. Our students reflect the diversity of the University at large, and we have successfully recruited faculty of diverse backgrounds. Our course offerings reflect the global diversity of philosophical and religious traditions and schools. In the Western tradition, the Department offers courses from both the “Analytic” (20th Century Anglophone) and “Continental” (20th Century European) schools. We also offer courses on non-Western philosophical traditions, and our Religious Studies courses cover Western, South-Asian and East-Asian religious traditions.
Student Success. Our faculty are dedicated to student success. Each instructor brings to the classroom unique methods and techniques developed over years and decades of successful teaching. The Department has played a leading role in crafting and implementing the Liberal Education Program's Critical Thinking course requirement, a key contributor to the success of our students in their college careers and beyond. Student outcomes are rigorously assessed, on a course-by-course basis.Department advisors provide attentive, personal academic counseling for our majors and minors. We encourage students to take an active role in their education by participating in departmental and university-wide colloquia and other events. The Department recognizes the achievements of our students through both the Peterson Award and the Greco Award. The philosophy major prepares students to perform particularly well on graduate and professional school admissions examinations.
Life-Long Learning. An education in philosophy helps students to develop life-long skills of critical thinking, analysis, interpretation, reflection, and ethical judgment. These practices are contextualized by an historical approach in our department, which helps students to situate their ideas as part of a larger conversation. Participating in this conversation can enrich our graduates' understanding of themselves and of their relations with other individuals, other species, the polis, the international community, and the cosmos. In short, philosophy helps students to navigate a world shaped by ideas and discourse, choose (or discover) who they are, and live autonomously.
Community Involvement. The Philosophy Department is committed to serving the University core value of Community Involvement. Department faculty members have been extensively involved in international education and advocacy efforts against genocide. Faculty members have also recently begun working to create multidisciplinary Service-Learning curricula in LEP courses.