The Department of Philosophy offers an undergraduate degree as well as several minors and immersions that can be paired with most other undergraduate degree programs at RIT. Through studying philosophy, you are taught to evaluate complex problems, identify and examine underlying principles, investigate issues from diverse perspectives, and communicate clearly in both written and oral forms. As a result, our students have done extremely well getting into law, business, and graduate school. The department is motivated by a dedication to excellence in teaching and most of our faculty have received awards for their work in the classroom.
Minors: Philosophy and Ethics
Immersions: Philosophy, Ethics, Religious Studies, Global Justice, and Renaissance Studies
RIT has partnered with Syracuse University College of Law to establish a “3+3” program for students interested in earning a law degree. A memorandum of understanding between the two universities was recently signed to allow students to complete three years of liberal arts and other studies at RIT, then transfer to the College of Law for three years to complete their doctorate in law.
LaVerne McQuiller Williams, senior associate dean of RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, has been named interim COLA dean effective June 1. McQuiller Williams succeeds Dean James Winebrake, who is leaving RIT on June 30 to become provost and vice chancellor of Academic Affairs at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Students take coursework that provides a solid foundation in core areas of philosophy as well as a four-course specialization that focuses on an area of interest within philosophy, such as applied ethics or the philosophy of art and aesthetics, among others. To build further in-demand skills, a professional or technical core in a discipline outside of philosophy is also required. This can be fulfilled by completing a minor, double major, or other coherent set of courses that fit a particular interest. Options for 4+1 BS/MS with science, technology and public policy, or 4+1 MBA through Saunders College of Business are also available.
The ethics immersion helps students to understand more deeply the nature of ethical thinking, to recognize and understand ethical dilemmas in private, professional, and public settings, and to think clearly and critically about possible answers to ethical problems. The immersion also provides students with the opportunity to acquaint themselves with some of the most influential writings and thinkers in the philosophical canon. Courses are especially well suited to students considering careers in law, medicine, business, or politics.
The ethics minor provides students with the ability to recognize ethical issues and to think critically to resolve them, both generally and within their chosen discipline. Students also learn how ethical problems can result from complex social structures and how changing structural features may avoid ethical problems. Three courses in philosophy are required plus two electives from the approved list, at least one of which must be outside philosophy. Only one 100-level course may be counted as part of the minor.
The global justice immersion examines attempts to create lasting peace and social justice on the international scale. Courses in philosophy and the social sciences help students to understand concepts of human rights, world poverty, and global solidarity. The immersion is well suited for students considering careers in law, politics, or public policy related fields.
The philosophy immersion provides students with an opportunity to study the nature, methods, problems, and achievements of philosophical inquiry. The immersion emphasizes the following goals: the ability to think rationally and critically, an awareness of ethical values, an appreciation of aesthetic values, an awareness of how the past affects the present and future, and an understanding of the relationship between individuals and the social settings with which they interact.
The philosophy minor provides students with the critical skill of philosophical analysis while they take courses on a wide variety of issues central to everyone’s existence. Students get a solid grasp of the major philosophers, movements, and topics of philosophical debate that continue to shape our lives and how we act.
Religion plays a major role in human affairs. To understand more fully the nature of the relationship between society and the individual, it is essential to have some understanding of religion. The religious studies immersion engages students in the study of religion from the perspective of major Western and non-Western traditions through courses in disciplines such as anthropology, history, literature, philosophy, and psychology.
The Renaissance studies immersion is an interdisciplinary set of courses focused on the study of cultural events (artistic, literary, philosophical, religious, scientific, among others) occurring during the Renaissance period (c. 1300-1600). The Renaissance saw the formation of new concepts and the occurrence of groundbreaking events such as the beginning of modern science and technology, the religious Reformation, the birth of the nation-state, the establishment of the banking system, the expansion of geographical horizons, the encounter with new cultures and populations, and the development of the notions of human dignity and human rights. Studying the Renaissance is also crucial to understanding contemporary debates centered on post-humanism, trans-humanism, technological humanism, and the various critiques of humanism, all of which have their conceptual basis in the Renaissance notion of homo universalis, or universal human being.