Thursday, September 25, 2008

Information regarding philosophy majors, concentrations, etc., etc.

Hey, all.

I talked with Ray Miles yesterday, and he provided me with some information regarding getting the philosophy major up and running. He stressed that this is a long process, and it is entirely possible that (depending on what year you are), you may not still be a student here by the time it is official.

That being said, there are a number of things that need to happen in the meantime. Hanno and I had a discussion regarding potential concentrations to attach to existing majors, and I'll be running a few ideas past Todd, too, in order to maximize the availability of philosophy to McNeese students (e.g., attaching a bioethics concentration to the nursin curriculum, or a generalized philosophy concentration applicable to most majors).

So, what is this "concentration" I've mentioned? It's a minor in philosophy. Kinda. The only real difference is the number of syllables, and that because Louisiana is goofy, you can't officially have a minor without a major. A concentration requires 18 credits, but allows us flexibility in development (i.e., we can decide what will constitute the core courses, and what will constitute electives).

The philosophy faculty will be sitting down at some point to hammer out the finer points, but I thought it would be useful to get feedback from you all, too. I'm thinking that we can discuss this on Monday (and this will be a good meeting to bring all of your friends who are interested in philosophy, as this will be our best chance to gauge student interests). I am also happy to print out the recommendations from the American Philosophical Association regarding the recommended core elements of a philosophy curriculum. Additionally, I will be putting together a quick anonymous survey regarding a major to foist upon all of my students (with an incentive for completing it), which will give us some qualitative and quantitative data we can peruse.

In regards to getting an actual major up and running, Ray advised letter writing (Hanno and I had talked about petitions, but Ray suggested that they would be functionally meaningless). It isn't enough to write a letter just saying you want a philosophy major; the letter should contain what you plan to do with a philosophy major (e.g., "it will help me with my plans for law school, graduate school, etc., and here's how"). I have data on the extraordinary success philosophy majors have had on standardized exams like the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, etc., and I'm happy to send anyone information on that (we consistently outperform almost every other major and discipline; contact me at, as well as testimonials from individuals in a number of professions describing how the philosophy major has helped them. I have several of these posted outside of my office (222-M Kaufman Hall). These letters can go to a number of people (and, in fact, I would suggest sending individualized copies to all of them):

Dr. Jeanne Daboval (Vice President of Academic Affairs)
Dr. Ray Miles (Dean, College of Liberal Arts)
Dr. Billy Turner (Dept. Head, Social Sciences)

It would be good for us (the philosophy faculty) to maintain hard copies of these letters, too, as a record of student interest. I'm happy to donate a drawer in my filing cabinet.

Additionally, Ray recommended getting letters from the outside community (e.g., professionals outside of McNeese who have benefitted from studying/majoring in philosophy) to demonstrate applicability and practicality of the major. Philosophy majors pop up in a number of expected and unexpected places - I'd suggest checking law firms to start.

Anyway, we can discuss all of this at the meeting. I can't emphasize enough how important it will be to show large student interest, both in the philosophy club as well as the philosophy major. So, bring friends, friends of friends, shanghai random students and drag them along, etc.

-Matthew Butkus, PhD


Lee said...

I agree. But i offer this counterpoint: Can god create a stone so large that he himself cannot lift it?

Anonymous said...

Lee that is very intriguing. You must be quite smart.

Superman said...

I agree Lee must is a very smart individual for coming up with that question.

Agent Smith said...

Quite down Mr. Stark. You have delved to deep into the rabbit hole. Watch out for snakes that may bite....

Lee said...

What? I'm not afraid of this rabbit hole! I'll just talk my way out of it!

Agent Smith said...

Tell me Mr. Stark, what good is talking, when your unable to speak...

Lee said...

Maauhghhguauh! Maugugugghahhagggggga!!!