Chairpersons: Co-Chairs Jay Ciaffa, Erik Schmidt
Director of the Philosophy Graduate Program: Danielle Layne
Professors: M. Alfino, K. Besmer, D. Bradley, P. Burke, D. Calhoun, B. Clayton, B. Henning, T. Jeannot, D. Kries, W. Pomerleau, E. Schmidt, M. Tkacz, R.M. Volbrecht (Emeritus)
Associate Professors: J. Ciaffa, T. Clancy, S.J., T. Di Maria, D. Layne, C. Lassiter, Q. Liu, E. Maccarone, T. Weidel
Assistant Professors: M. Howard, M. Turnbull
The department offers one major and one minor:
Philosophy has played a central role in Jesuit education since its inception, a tradition that is reflected by the place of philosophy in the Gonzaga University Core curriculum. Philosophy courses included as part of the University Core curriculum for all undergraduate programs aid students in developing skills of thought and logical analysis (PHIL 101), introduce students to sustained reflection on basic questions of human nature and personhood (PHIL 201), and examine the practical and theoretical considerations relevant to human morality and value (PHIL 301). The department offers 400-level philosophy courses on a wide variety of topics, which serve to integrate work in the University Core curriculum, and to encourage students to reflect on their future roles in the world.
The Philosophy Department also offers courses leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree with a major or minor in philosophy. Beyond the philosophy courses that fulfill the University Core (101, 201, 301, 432), students must complete an additional 9 credits of upper-division course work for a Philosophy Minor, and an additional 24 credits for a Philosophy Major. The major includes a 3-course sequence in the history of philosophy; topical seminars that focus on philosophical research, discussion, and writing; and a broad range of 400-level electives, which allows students to develop a program of studies tailored to their own interests. Each student is required to take at least one course in contemporary philosophy, and one course in ethics or political philosophy. Majors must take at least two philosophy seminars and minors must take at least one. These seminars are identified by their numbers (PHIL 400-430) and they will all carry a Writing Enriched designation, which fulfills a requirement of the University Core curriculum.
Students may also earn a Philosophy Major by completing the department's Kossel Concentration in Philosophical Studies. The Kossel Concentration follows the course of studies established for the training of college seminarians by the Program of Priestly Formation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The goal of the Kossel Concentration, as stated in the Program, is for students (1) to organize and synthesize their study of the liberal arts through the study of philosophy and (2) to prepare for the study of theology in the post-baccalaureate seminary. Although specifically designed for the students of Bishop White Seminary, the Kossel Concentration is open to all Gonzaga students. The curricular requirements for the Kossel Concentration include all of the requirements of the regular Philosophy Major, but students in the Kossel Concentration must devote their elective courses to traditional areas of Catholic philosophy. They must also complete extra courses in Latin. The Kossel Concentration is named after the late Clifford Kossel, S.J., who taught philosophy at Gonzaga for most of his adult life.
An undergraduate Major in Philosophy is useful preparation for a variety of careers. The focus on logic, argumentation, and moral theory is valuable to students with career plans in law. Students with interests in business, public policy, or government service can benefit from the many courses which provide reflective analysis on the ways in which political, moral, and social values are embedded in social institutions. A degree in philosophy can be valuable when applying to a variety of professional schools which actively look for liberal arts majors and to employers who do the same.
In addition to their major and minor areas of study, all undergraduate students follow a common program designed to complete their education in those areas that the University considers essential for a Catholic, Jesuit, liberal, and humanistic education. The University Core Curriculum consists of forty-five credits of course work, with additional designation requirements that can be met through core, major, or elective courses.
The University Core Curriculum is a four-year program, organized around one overarching question, which is progressively addressed through yearly themes and questions. Hence, core courses are best taken within the year for which they are designated. First year core courses encourage intellectual engagement and provide a broad foundation of fundamental skills. Second and third year courses examine central issues and questions in philosophy and religious studies. The fourth year course, the Core Integration Seminar, offers a culminating core experience. Taken at any time throughout the four years, broadening courses intersect with the core themes and extend students’ appreciation for the humanities, arts, and social and behavioral sciences. Finally, the designation requirements (writing enriched, global studies, and social justice) reflect important values and reinforce students’ knowledge and competencies.
Overarching Core Question: As students of a Catholic, Jesuit, and Humanistic University, how do we educate ourselves to become women and men for a more just and humane global community?
Year 1 Theme and Question: Understanding and Creating: How do we pursue knowledge and cultivate understanding?
- The First-Year Seminar (DEPT 193, 3 credits): The First-Year Seminar (FYS), taken in the fall or spring of the first year, is designed to promote an intellectual shift in students as they transition to college academic life. Each small seminar is organized around an engaging topic, which students explore from multiple perspectives. The FYS is offered by many departments across the University (click here [PDF] for list of FYS courses).
- Writing (ENGL 101, 3 credits) and Reasoning (PHIL 101, 3 credits): The Writing and Reasoning courses are designed to help students develop the foundational skills of critical reading, thinking, analysis, and writing. They may be taken as linked sections. Writing (ENGL 101) carries one of the three required writing-enriched designations (see below).
- Communication & Speech (COMM 100, 3 credits): This course introduces students to interpersonal and small group communication and requires the application of critical thinking, reasoning, and research skills necessary to organize, write, and present several speeches.
- Scientific Inquiry (BIOL 104/104L, CHEM 104/104L, or PHYS 104/104L, 3 credits): This course explores the scientific process in the natural world through evidence-based logic and includes significant laboratory experience. Students pursuing majors that require science courses will satisfy this requirement through their major.
- Mathematics (above Math 100, 3 credits): Mathematics courses promote thinking according to the modes of the discipline—abstractly, symbolically, logically, and computationally. One course in mathematics, above Math 100, including any math course required for a major or minor, will fulfill this requirement. MATH 100 (College Algebra) and courses without the MATH prefix do not fulfill this requirement.
Year 2 Theme and Question: Being and Becoming: Who are we and what does it mean to be human?
- Philosophy of Human Nature (PHIL 201, 3 credits): This course provides students with a philosophical study of key figures, theories, and intellectual traditions that contribute to understanding the human condition; the meaning and dignity of human life; and the human relationship to ultimate reality.
- Christianity and Catholic Traditions (RELI, 3 credits). Religious Studies core courses approved for this requirement explore diverse topics including Christian scriptures, history, theology, and practices as well as major contributions from the Catholic intellectual and theological traditions (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses) .
Year 3 Theme and Question: Caring and Doing: What principles characterize a well lived life?
- Ethics (PHIL 301 or RELI, 3 credits): The Ethics courses are designed to help students develop their moral imagination by exploring and explaining the reasons humans should care about the needs and interests of others. This requirement is satisfied by an approved ethics course in either Philosophy (PHIL 301) or Religious Studies (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
- World/Comparative Religion (RELI, 3 credits): Religious Studies courses approved for this core requirement draw attention to the diversity that exists within and among traditions and encourage students to bring critical, analytical thinking to bear on the traditions and questions considered. These courses carries one of the required two global-studies designations (see below) (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
Year 4 Theme and Question: Imagining the Possible: What is our role in the world?”
- Core Integration Seminar (DEPT 432, 3 credits). The Core Integration Seminar (CIS) offers students a culminating core experience in which they integrate the principles of Jesuit education, prior components of the core, and their disciplinary expertise. Some CIS courses may also count toward a student’s major or minor. The CIS is offered by several departments across the University (click here [PDF] for list of CIS courses).
The Broadening Courses
- Fine Arts & Design (VART, MUSC, THEA, 3 credits): Arts courses explore multiple ways the human experience can be expressed through creativity, including across different cultures and societies. One approved course in fine arts, music, theatre, or dance will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
- History (HIST, 3 credits): History courses are intended to develop students’ awareness of the historical context of both the individual and the collective human experience. One course in History (HIST 101, HIST 102, HIST 112, HIST 201, HIST 202) will fulfill this requirement.
- Literature (3 credits): Literature courses foster reflection on how literature engages with a range of human experience. One approved course in Literature (offered by English, Classics, or Modern Languages) will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
- Social & Behavioral Sciences (3 credits): Courses in the social and behavioral sciences engage students in studying human behavior, social systems, and social issues. One approved course offered by Criminal Justice, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, or Women and Gender Studies will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
Designations are embedded within already existing core, major, minor, and elective courses. Students are encouraged to meet designation requirements within elective courses as their schedule allows; however, with careful planning students should be able to complete most of the designation requirements within other core, major, or minor courses.
- Writing Enriched (WE; 3 courses meeting this designation): Courses carrying the WE designation are designed to promote the humanistic and Jesuit pedagogical ideal of clear, effective communication. In addition to the required core course, Writing (ENGL 101), which carries one of the WE designations, students must take two other WE-designated courses (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
- Global-Studies (GS; 2 courses meeting this designation): Courses carrying the GS designation are designed to challenge students to perceive and understand human diversity by exploring diversity within a context of constantly changing global systems. In addition to the required core course, World/Comparative Religion (RELI 300-level), which carries one of the GS designations, students must take one other GS-designated course (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
- Social-Justice (SJ; 1 course meeting this designation): Courses carrying the SJ designation are designed to introduce students to one or more social justice concerns. Students must take one course that meets the SJ designation (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
Major-specific adaptations to the University Core Curriculum
All Gonzaga students, regardless of their major, will complete the University Core Curriculum requirements. However some Gonzaga students will satisfy certain core requirements through major-specific programs or courses. Any major-specific adaptations to the core are described with the requirements for the majors to which they apply.