What is nature? How do we relate to it? Why should we care about it? In this course, we will discuss several proposed responses. The purpose of the course is not to give definitive answers to these questions, but by the end of the semester, students should be equipped to try to answer them themselves.
Students will be introduced to philosophical approaches to environmental issues. We will investigate the relationship between humanity and nature, the moral status of the environment and other animals, and discuss what obligations we have to the earth and its inhabitants. We will also spend some time considering particular applied issues such as the ethics of food and climate justice.
Offered Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019
Finding Peace in Identity
What are we? How do we make sense of ourselves? How do we conceive of each other? In this course, we will discuss several proposed responses.
Students will be introduced to the philosophical analysis of personal identity. We will examine metaphysical conceptions of what we are as well as value theoretical considerations related to how we conceive of ourselves and our survival. Once we’ve established some theories of what we are fundamentally, we will explore how we identify ourselves and each other with an eye toward making peace with ourselves, our experiences, and our futures.
Offered Fall 2017, Fall 2018
Social Dimensions of Equality
What is equality, and why does it matter? How is equality achieved in a just society? How do individual and collective actions reflect the value of equality?
Students will be introduced to the philosophical analysis of ethical interactions, both individual and collective. We will examine theories of equality and justice as well as theories of right behavior. After discussing theoretical approaches to these topics, we will assess various applied issues as they arise for individuals and in society.
Offered Spring 2018, Spring 2019
What is the nature of reality? How do we acquire knowledge? What is morality, and what does it require of us?
Students will be introduced to various philosophical issues as they are addressed in different traditions. We will examine fundamental areas of philosophy -- philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics -- through Western and non-Western perspectives, both historical and contemporary. Our discussions will be both evaluative and comparative as we survey varying approaches to each topic. Through these discussions, our aim will be to gain a broader understanding of the differing origins and virtues of philosophical theories rather than to demonstrate superiority of any particular worldview.
Offered Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020
Reason and Religion
Is it rational to believe in God? Is it rational to not believe in God? If there are so many different religions, does that mean that all religions are equally right? Or that they’re equally wrong? How do religion and morality relate to each other? Students will be introduced to philosophical analysis of religious issues. We will examine the rational cases for and against the existence of God, the nature of religious diversity and religious disagreement, and the relationship between religion and morality. This course is not designed to convince students that any particular religious beliefs are true or false; instead students will be equipped to engage religious matters from a philosophical perspective.
Offered Fall 2019
First Year Seminar: Critical Thinking
This is an interdisciplinary course providing a common academic experience for all first year students. It introduces students to college-level thinking in the arts and sciences. Emphasis is on developing a community of learners with an appreciation for the arts and sciences and with the tools for academic success.
Offered Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019
Upcoming: Philosophy of Death and Dying (Spring 2020)
Past Courses (at UIUC)
Living Well: Introduction to Ethics (Spring 2015, Spring 2016)
Who Are We?: Conceptions of Human Nature (Fall 2015)
Ultimate Questions: Introduction to Philosophy (Fall 2014)