Philosophy still strong despite national trends
April 5, 2010 —
If you asked around, you probably wouldn’t find anyone with “philosopher” as a line on a résumé.
Schools around the country are dropping philosophy and similar majors from their offerings, blaming lack of interest and limited job options.
This year, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette removed its philosophy major after watching a continuous decline in enrollment.
But SVSU hasn’t touched its program, and professors of philosophy are confident in their existence.
Even without a philosophy major available, SVSU has eight students minoring in law and philosophy and 31 in traditional philosophy.
The department would be unable to grow without student interest in the courses available.
“The department is strong; we are growing,” said Judith Hill, head of the department.
That number isn’t just in students. “In ’88, I was the third member,” Hill said. “We are now up to five full-time and four adjunct professors.”
A large variety of courses relate to other programs, such as the ethics in the fields of business, law and the medical system.
“We are a service department,” said philosophy professor Peter Barry. “The majority of our credits are for the benefit of others.”
Despite the subject’s lack of a direct career connection, businesses have a high demand for people with expertise in critical thinking, according to The New York Times.
Their way of thinking from multiple perspectives is very useful when attacking business priorities. To improve critical thinking, the department offers a logic class, which falls under a general education requirement.
Critical thinking is often known to be a skill developed in studying philosophy, but it remains a widely misunderstood subject.
Amanda Newton, an elementary education junior, said she didn’t know much about the study, but would take a course if she needed to.
Communications junior Ali Bennett called a philosophy course “eye opening,” adding, “[it] broadens your thinking.”
Over the years the department has dropped courses, but it has also picked up new ones.
Hill said they couldn’t teach courses such as the Philosophy of Science when she first arrived, so the department has certainly grown.