Course Descriptions

Winter Quarter 2023

Dr. Alexandra Romanyshyn
MWF 12:30-1:55

Do we have a purpose in life? Why is there so much suffering in the world? These are questions we will examine as we explore philosophical writings from the Middle Ages. While encountering the ideas of influential Christian philosophers, like Thomas Aquinas, we will also discover how indebted they are to both Jewish and Islamic philosophical traditions. To that end, we will also read Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd, and Maimonides. Lastly, we will explore the unique approach to philosophy that many medieval women assumed, through the writings of Hildegard von Bingen and Christine de Pizan. 

Dr. Char Brecevic
TTH 10:15-12:20

Writing in 1983, philosopher Jacques Ellul argued that technology had become "the defining force of a new social order in which efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity." Reading this course description from our electronic devices in 2022, this conclusion has only become more fitting. As the consumers, future innovators, policymakers, and/or very targets of certain technologies, critical engagement with the ethical dimensions of these tools and their consequences is non-negotiable if one wishes to build an equitable, just, and flourishing future for the human family and other earthly inhabitants. The aim of the course is to cultivate the philosophical knowledge, skills, and vocabulary needed to live within this global technological landscape in a civically active and morally conscientious way. The course will weave together philosophical explorations of three broad questions to achieve this: 1) what is technology?, 2) what are the morally-relevant impacts of technology?, and 3) what should technology be for? (Counts toward the Ethics minor)

Dr. Paul Kidder
MWF 10:55-12:20

Cities hold great promise for addressing the challenges that face humanity today, but only if their growth and development is guided by reasoned moral values and an inspiring vision of the human good. This course will use tools of philosophy to examine debates over what makes a city vital, sustainable, meaningful, and just. It combines philosophy with the fields of urban planning and design, political science, sociology, and architecture. The study of Jane Jacobs’ classic book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities will be complemented with recent work by urban designer Peter Calthorpe and architectural theorist Dalibor Vesely.

Dr. Christina Friedlaender
MW 3:40-5:45

Feminist theorists ask questions about gender in relation to race, sexuality, class, caste, disability, religion, and imperialism. In this class, we will examine how structural forms of oppression shape how we understand ourselves and others. Readings will include decolonial feminisms, intersectionality’s Black feminist roots, and a range of concrete issues chosen by the students themselves. Possibilities include but are not limited to reproductive justice, data science, sex work, art, poverty, trans rights, environmental destruction, education, sexual violence, and revolution. Feminist theory would not exist but for intergenerational and sustained on-the-ground resistance. Building trust and community are an essential part of successful coalition-building. The goal of this class is to develop a broader set of tools that help us: (1) respond to the realities of oppression, (2) create space for flourishing and joy, and (3) imagine what kind of feminist futures we hope to build and how we can build them together. X: WGST 3710

Dr. James Risser
TTh 1:30-3:35

This course is devoted to the philosophy and political thought of Hannah Arendt, one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century. Arendt’s writings on power, violence and the moral dimensions of the totalitarian state–made famous in part with her coinage of “the banality of evil” in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem –brought her into public prominence in the 1950s and 60s in America and abroad.  This course will begin with a focus on her highly influential philosophical works, The Human Condition and The Life of the Mind, the latter published posthumously from her lectures at the New School for Social Research in New York. The second half of the course will focus on her political writings, which include her essays on freedom, authority and truth in politics.