Academic Program in Philosophy
The philosophy department has a major, minor, and an Honors Program. We offer a full curriculum with introductory courses, intermediate and advanced courses (with emphasis on particular subfields of philosophy), and topical and historical seminars.
Students who are interested in this area of study and may have taken philosophy courses should contact Dorit Ganson about the process and requirements for transfer of credit.
The Honors Program, which is open to qualified senior philosophy majors, involves intensive study and writing under faculty supervision for an academic year. It culminates with a written thesis and a defense of the thesis before departmental faculty and, typically, an external examiner from another college or university.
In addition, the department sponsors the Christopher P. Dahl Essay Contest for the best undergraduate essay in philosophy, and the Nancy K. Rhoden Essay Contest, awarded for an excellent essay in ethics, medical ethics, or jurisprudence. Winners in both contests receive a monetary prize.
Students benefit from the research endeavors of faculty members whose scholarly activities receive support from the Robert K. France ’74 Fund. Established in 2002 through a gift from his wife, Ruth Doan, this fund maintains the research activities of new and tenured faculty by helping with such expenses as the cost of conference travel and software purchases.
A steady stream of visiting philosophers also enriches the academic experience on campus. Every other spring the Oberlin Colloquium in Philosophy offers a full weekend of symposia, with guest speakers and commentators from both U.S. and international colleges and universities. Established in 1960, the colloquium brings the best of the world’s academic philosophers to campus to share their research.
In the intervening years, the department mounts a speaker series, which, like the Colloquium in Philosophy, regularly hosts the finest scholars working in the field today. In addition, the Nancy K. Rhoden ’74 Memorial Fund supports an annual Rhoden Lecture, which provides an opportunity to hear leading researchers in medical ethics and the philosophy of law.