The Undergraduate Program: Requirements and Opportunities
The Philosophy Department offers an undergraduate major, two minors, and a concentration in Ethics and Public Policy. The department also offers a variety of elective courses which non-majors may take to broaden their education and fulfill requirements for the Program of Liberal Studies.
The philosophy major is relatively simple to complete. Eight courses in philosophy are required: logic, two courses in the history of philosophy, an elective, a capstone seminar, and one advanced course each in the three basic fields (metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics). In addition, majors must complete one of the following three tracks: a second major, a concentration, or a minor. An elective intensive honors track is also available for students interested in a more rigorous course plan.
All Clark undergraduates are expected to develop significant research skills. In addition to honors theses (see below) on a wide range of traditional philosophical topics, recent philosophy students have completed research projects on such questions as: privacy issues in the law, the concept of futility in medical ethics, and equity issues related to the management of nuclear waste. Our students regularly present research papers at regional undergraduate philosophy conferences.
For significant independent research, the department offers individual Directed Research, Directed Readings, and Advanced Topics in Philosophy (PHIL 299). Students interested in these possibilities should consult with individual members of the philosophy faculty.
Internships and Research Apprenticeships
Students are encouraged to apply for a research apprenticeship with an individual philosophy professor. Research apprentices work closely with their mentor on the mentor’s scholarly research, sometimes co-authoring a published article. Some recent topics have been: ethical issues in reproductive technology; privacy in law and ethics; and statistical stylometry and ancient philosophy. Philosophy faculty also sponsor off-campus undergraduate internship experiences. Students interested in these opportunities may inquire at the department or through the internship office.
Honors Program and Senior Thesis
Undergraduate majors are encouraged to complete a senior honors thesis(PHIL 295); majors intending graduate study especially should consider this. Thesis students engage in advanced individual research on a selected philosophical problem, guided by a faculty advisor and a thesis committee composed of three faculty members.
The department has the Massachusetts Alpha Chapter of the national philosophy honor society, Phi Sigma Tau. In addition to awarding membership to academically exceptional majors, the society also sponsors speakers and colloquia, as well as trips to regional philosophy conferences.
Recent Society Inductees
Each year, the department awards a number of academic prizes to its students, including the endowed David M. Saltzman Prize for excellence in philosophy.
David Saltman Prize: Amanda Brogan (2015)
Whitney Brown (2015)
Andrew Masley (2014)
Ceylan Oymak (2014)
Logic Prize: Seamus O'Connor (2015)
Merry Gibbons (2014)
Each year, our best undergraduate majors are invited to work as discussion group leaders in such courses as Social and Political Ethics, Personal Values, Medical Ethics, Logic, and Environmental Ethics.