For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences section in this catalog.
Chair: Uglietta. Professors: Castelão-Lawless, Kindschi, Ni, Parker, Pestana, Rowe; Associate Professors: Cimitile, DeWilde, Loeffler, Moes, Shang, Vandenberg, Vessey, Whipps; Assistant Professors: Spear, Tunstall.
Philosophy is an activity, a practice, and a way of life that is intimately associated with the ideal of liberal education. Philosophy is also a discipline and a subject matter, one that arises from the history of its primary activity of asking and answering questions about reality, meaning, and value. Through both the activity and the discipline aspects, the study of philosophy contributes to the development of the whole person. Philosophy cuts across other disciplines by uncovering the basic assumptions of our various ways of understanding reality, making it possible for us to be alert and responsive at this level. This same inherently interdisciplinary quality also makes it possible for us to achieve a conception of the world as a whole, which supports an informed scale of value. Thus the ongoing study of philosophy is not only informative, but transformative, enabling us to live an examined life and to grow toward the way of being that the liberally educated person and the philosopher exemplify.
There are close connections between aspects of philosophy and most careers. For example, the study of ethics is essential for medicine, law, engineering, teaching, counseling, and business. Legal and political philosophies are essential to law and public service. The philosophy of science has a bearing on the social and natural sciences. The philosophy of art, literature, and film relates to journalism, television, and the performing arts. Just as philosophy was the ancient mother of all the liberal arts and sciences, so today the arts, sciences, and professional practices - specialized as they are - still lead us back to the questions of philosophy. Knowledge of the history of ideas, familiarity with logical thinking and creative problem-solving, and skills of abstraction and judgment are assets in any career.
Graduate and Professional School Opportunities
Any graduate, professional, or career program depending on a liberal arts curriculum will welcome work done in philosophy. Schools of law, theology, and religious studies are particularly enthusiastic about philosophy as an undergraduate major. Students interested in attending law school should contact Professor John Uglietta, the department’s pre-law advisor.
Study abroad programs directed by philosophy faculty are especially beneficial for philosophy students. The GVSU Summer School in China represents a rare opportunity to study many aspects of Chinese culture, including Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian philosophy, in China.
Community Working Classics (PHI 375 and PHI 376) is a philosophy seminar dedicated to combining traditional classroom discourse with elements of community organizing, urban study, and student teaching. Each semester, students enrolled in the CWC program offer courses of study in the liberal arts to residents in both the downtown Grand Rapids area and the Muskegon Correctional Facility. The program has been recognized by the American Philosophical Association through the “Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs” award, and by the Kellogg Foundation, among others.
The Undergraduate Teaching Apprentice Program is directed toward philosophy majors planning to attend graduate school, and is designed to provide an opportunity for selected students to apprentice in teaching philosophy. For such students, experience in this aspect of the practice of philosophy is an important complement to the undergraduate major.
The following programs are available:
Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy