Philosophy department stresses program’s values

Aaron Corpora

Kent State professors in the College of Arts and Sciences are working to end the stigma that a degree in philosophy is no longer of its once-practical value. 

Deborah Barnbaum, an academic chair in the philosophy department, said the department’s goal is to stress the importance of philosophy to potential students.

 “The thing that we’re doing to try to entice new majors is to spend more time focusing on selling students on the value of philosophy based on considerations that students can understand,” Barnbaum said. 

One way the department is doing this is researching data that show how well philosophy students do in other areas of study. 

For example, philosophy students score as well or better on the Law School Admissions Test than all other humanities majors.

 The department also takes pride on preparing their students for their next stage in life, no matter the direction they choose to go.

“Students in the program receive intensive training in critical thinking and argumentation skills, careful reading and analysis of texts, argumentative and analytical writing, creative problem-solving, effective communication and global literacy,” according to the Kent State department of philosophy website. 

Students studying in the philosophy department can go on to careers that involve education, ethics, law, business, religious or social work as well as government and communication jobs. 

 “There are a lot of students who think of going to college as sort of credentialing themselves for the next stage in life, and we realized that if that’s what students are thinking about, with respect to the university, why don’t we show them what they can do with philosophy,” Barnbaum said.

 The process of getting a philosophy degree at Kent State has also become an easier task as the department has cut down the required credits from 42 to 36.

“What we’re trying to do really is to show everyone how philosophy is a great major no matter what career you’re looking for,” said Gina Zavota, an associate professor of philosophy and undergraduate coordinator. 

With all of the new efforts to revitalize philosophy, some students, such as graduate appointee Devon Hawkins, said they realized the importance of philosophy in everyday life. 

“What makes philosophy so important is that it deals with structural issues,” Hawkins said. “Philosophy became a place where I can ask why? Why do we do the things that we do? Why does society function the way that it does?” 

Contact Aaron Corpora at [email protected].