Thursday, August 21, 2014

Intro courses specifically for majors?

My department is revamping its curriculum and is considering adding an intro course specifically for philosophy majors. (This need not be an 'intro' course on either the historical survey or topical smorgasbord model — we'd be open to a seminar for new majors, for instance.) Does anyone out there know of departments that have done this, and what the courses look like?


1 comment:

  1. My (terminal) MA program at Cleveland State had a half-credit research skills symposium. It wasn't tied to any particular curriculum --you had to be enrolled in another course of your choosing that did a research essay of a certain length to take it-- and it covered both how to do philosophical research and essay construction but also how to do a conference submission and propose a paper for a journal, that kind of thing. It was probably one of the most useful courses I ever took, both because of the practical skills and also because it got the cohort sitting in the same room.

    I wonder if something like that could work at an undergraduate level. Clearly the practical skills would be different, but I can imagine it would be useful to sit down in a formal way and talk about both how to do philosophical research and read a primary source and also some basic logic - not formal symbolic logic so much as how to analyze an argument informally and formally.

    I wonder if that might be more useful than having a specific core course that taught concepts beyond what a biology or calculus course for majors would do. It's not that those introductory courses do (or even should) be teaching more or less the same curriculum in every section, where you require more precise, detailed understanding of people who will go on to be majors - that seems to be the wisdom behind a majors-only version of BIO 101 to me. I also worry, since a lot of people don't get their first exposure to philosophy until that first course, that they may not know they want to be a major until after they take it. (That's not the case for a lot of other disciplines.) So while I think a majors-only course can be useful, I do worry that making it replace the PHIL 101 course may make it harder to recruit students for the major.


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