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CSU to begin offering philosophy degree

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Clayton State University students can now earn undergraduate degrees in the teachings of philosophers from across the ages, ranging from Socrates and Plato, to Rene Descartes and John Locke.

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia gave its blessing, this week, for Clayton State University officials to begin offering a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy, according to sources with the school and the university system.

The decision, which came down on Wednesday, allows the university to expand its five-year-old minor in philosophy program, into a full-blooded degree major.

Clayton State philosophy Professor Ron Jackson said he and other philosophy professors at the school felt the university needed to have a full, undergraduate degree in philosophy rather than just a minor in the subject. Jackson wrote the proposal for the new degree program, along with Alexander Hall and Todd Janke, who are assistant professors of philosophy at Clayton State.

"Philosophy is the foundation for so many fields of study, so it's a course of study that you want to be present at a university," Jackson said.

University system documents show the establishment of the new degree program goes into effect immediately. Jackson said the program will be rolled out in the fall.

The program will offer concentrations in pre-law and ethical studies, according to Jackson. The university has five professors who will teach courses for the degree, he added.

Jackson explained that because several fields of study, including psychology, and the natural and social sciences have roots in philosophy, the degree program can help students who choose to study philosophy, while also pursuing a degree in another subject.

"We structured the program so students majoring in philosophy can also major in another field of study at the same time, and the philosophy can just serve as a compliment to whatever other subject the student is studying," Jackson said.

The university system documents also show the degree program will focus on the subject's four core areas: Modern, contemporary, ancient and medieval philosophy. Jackson said students will study a wide range of philosophers, including Descartes, Locke, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, John Dewey, Charles Peirce, and William James.

Clayton State officials pursued student feedback, on the level of interest that exists at the university, for a philosophy degree, before they presented their request to officials at the state level, according to an executive summary provided in the agenda packet for this week's Board of Regents meeting.

Jackson said all Clayton State students are already required to take a philosophy course in critical thinking, which gave professors a wide group of students to question about their interest in a philosophy degree. The executive summary provided in the Board of Regents' meeting packet shows 32 percent of the 628 students surveyed said they would be interested in majoring in philosophy at Clayton State.

"It [the degree's approval] is really exciting," said philosophy professor Ron Jackson. "There is such excitement for this program, and we're really eager to get cranking."