Soon students will have the option of spending more time with Aristotle and Plato, making Castleton the only Vermont State College to offer a degree in philosophy.”It would really underscore the claim to be a liberal arts college,” said Bob Johnson who is currently the only full-time philosophy professor.
There are currently nine students attempting a minor in philosophy. To make the program work, CSC would need an estimated minimum of 15 students to major in philosophy.
“We have to buck the trend and get more people to major in philosophy than statistics,” said the quirky professor. “It’s an active and exciting program.”
In order to have a philosophy major, a second full-time professor has to be hired, four or five additional courses in philosophy need to be added, and students who are interested in philosophy need to apply.
For a minor 18 credits is needed and will be upped to 36 credits for a major, including a seminar and a senior thesis.
Academic dean Joe Mark stated that he has had sit down meetings with students who left Castleton because of the lack of a philosophy major.
Johnson spouted off many reasons to be a philosophy major, including the tendency for these students to score higher on their GREs and the wide range of careers a major in philosophy opens up.
“The reason why businesses like philosophy majors is because they have excellent skills in decision making, organization, logic, and they learn how to tackle problems,” Johnson said.
The philosophy program has grown extensively in the twenty years since Johnson arrived here as the only philosophy professor for three classes each semester. Now philosophy has three adjuncts alongside Johnson to teach nine or ten classes each semester.
After being passed on March 6 by the faculty assembly, the proposed major still needs to be passed by the trustee board made up of students and education personnel which Mark is hoping will be passed later this semester or early next semester.
“I’d come back for a philosophy major,” Steve Hartman, a graduating senior, said half joking. “It makes you think about how things could be and explain them a lot more.”
Mark hopes to have the program in place by fall of 2008, but the optimistic philosophy professor hopes that it will be sooner.
“It’s conceivable for this fall. I’m not sure,” Johnson said. “I’m being really optimistic.