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To cut or not to cut: fate of philosophy program finalized

Another department suffers from the aftermath of the higher education budget cuts: Students and faculty of the Department of English and Philosophy are going to be saying goodbye to the philosophy degree.

The philosophy program was suspended for the time being this May because it didn’t make its projected student goal of 10 graduating students over a year’s time.

Philosophy majors will not be able to enroll into the Bachelors of Arts program anymore, however they will be able to do an independent study where they take the classes that would be needed for the philosophy major, but the degree would be in a slightly different classification.

Gregory Hakos, an assistant professor in the philosophy program, said that even though the situation isn’t ideal, the students and professors within the program are coping.

“Everyone is dealing with it. I think they understand the situation is broader,” Hakos said. “I think people who are in a younger generation have a lack of stability and are more used to that, so I feel that they just kind of roll with the punches. They aren’t happy, but they are accepting of it.”

Bess Bedwell, a junior in the program, said she was disappointed, but understood that there had to be changes made because of the budget cuts and plans on continuing her education by building onto her degree.

“I’m upset because I feel like philosophy is a great thing to study. I enjoy it,” she said. “It’s hard to know the importance because there isn’t too much you can do with just a philosophy degree.”

Kenneth Cust, a professor in the philosophy program said teaching philosophy is important because it teaches students how to think.

“Unlike every other discipline, philosophy teaches you how to think. Every other discipline teaches you what to think. Philosophy says we will teach you how to think, then it doesn’t matter what area you go into, you’ve got to think correctly,” Cust said.

Hakos said philosophy is important because it’s the foundation for other subjects that are studied at the college level.

“It’s not specific to any particular thing, but its value lies addressing learning in general,” Hakos said. “You’ve got to continue to enhance yourself, and philosophy is a basis for learning how to learn, so I think that’s why it’s always been at the core of university education. Not to mention the historical role. Basically all the departments at some point come from philosophy.”

Kate Lynch, a senior in the philosophy program, said she was lucky to get into the program when she did.

“If I was a new student with an interest and I couldn’t act on that interest, that would be discouraging,” Lynch said.

Both students feel passionate about the subject they study and said they hate to see it go away.

“(Philosophy) is a great subject. More people should be interested in it,” Bedwell said.

Cust said the coordinators within the program tried their hardest to keep the program alive.

“Nobody likes to see their program cut. We tried. We did the best we could,” Cust said.

The university will still offer philosophy classes by integrating them into general education requirements. Daniel Schierenbeck, the chair of the English department, wasn’t available to provide specifics on the changes.

2 Comments

Nichole

If money is the primary motivator for the people with the axes, then tuition-paying students need to start throwing around the $5-40k (depending on school, since this is a wide problem) of weight they have, preferably in groups. One would hope the response to a stupid move like this would be students transferring to better schools.

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David

Nichole is on the mark. Much of the unrest in society today seems from the inability of people, especially many in government, to pause, to reason, to reflect before acting. There even seems to be a lessening among even college educated people in access to both spoken and wrirren vocabulary necessary to clear, concise reasoning as well as an inability or unwillingness to listen carefully to others. The study of philosophy is imperative in building an interdependent civilized society. One need only look to the Trump turmoil in Washington to see the consequences of a limited vocabulary, a lack of principles, and inability to reason. The study of philosophy is useful in separating the wheat from the chaff or, in simple terms, seeing through the bullshit – a much needed skill in today’s world and crucial in developing empathy. View some of Ken Robinson’s RSA videos using Google for a humorous take on education and other issues.

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