Home > Academic Catalog > 2012-13 Academic Catalog > Academic Programs > Philosophy


Program Director: Steven A. Fesmire, Ph.D.
Division of Humanities, Education, & Arts

Programs offered:

  • BA in Philosophy

  • Philosophy Minor

The Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy
The Philosophy program at Green Mountain College develops students’ critical thinking skills while exploring vital problems of human existence affecting how we understand ourselves and nature, how we act in relation to others, and what has significance for our lives. Green Mountain’s philosophy program is distinctive in its focus on applied philosophy, that is, on issues related to how we should live, how we should govern ourselves, and how we should come to understand the world. It emphasizes connections between basic philosophical questions and the relation of humans to their cultural and natural environments. In this way, students learn to think critically about beliefs, values, and prejudices. It also provides students with a broad background in the history of philosophy and a solid understanding of major areas in contemporary philosophy. In addition to standard catalog offerings, the curriculum includes frequent seminars on current issues, such as Peace, War, and Justice; Education for a Sustainable Society; The Problem of Evil, Liberty, Fraternity, Equality: Our Social-Political Culture War, and a series of courses on popular culture and philosophy.

The major is excellent training for careers, including law, government service, and business. Philosophy is consistently ranked as a top major for performance on the GRE, LSAT, and GMAT exams. Green Mountain Philosophy majors are regularly accepted into strong graduate programs in Philosophy and law schools. The communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills that students develop are in high demand. Students are afforded the opportunity in their coursework to consider how to translate their academic work into careers, and to hone career building skills such as writing cover letters and interviewing for academic and professional positions. Beyond preparation for good careers, the major attempts to enhance intellectual curiosity and to encourage a careful, balanced approach to life decisions.

Outside of the classroom, students in philosophy courses contribute to the vibrant intellectual culture of the campus and community. The Agora Philosophy Club sponsors a Friday night discussion series, film discussions at our local movie theater, and campus meetings. Program students and faculty end each year with an annual “Friends of Wisdom” croquet tournament and senior celebration at a faculty member’s home. Green Mountain students tend to be enthusiastic about opportunities to reflect on their values and commitments. Central to Green Mountain’s identity as an environmental liberal arts college is a realization that a liberal arts education must evolve to meet the challenges of our own situation. Philosophy, through its role of interpreting, evaluating, criticizing, and redirecting our culture, is a vital discipline for liberal education.

Learning Outcomes for Philosophy Majors
The successful student will:

  • Demonstrate strong analytical, critical thinking, reading, and writing skills at a level appropriate for professions or graduate school.

  • Demonstrate critical comprehension of alternative cultural perspectives and frameworks, and they will have the reflective and communication skills to listen and respond to diverse perspectives.

  • Demonstrate the ability to reflect on multiple perspectives regarding the relationship between humans and nonhuman nature.

  • Demonstrate a general literacy in the history of philosophy and in major areas in twentieth and twenty-first century philosophy.

  • Demonstrate an expanded base of knowledge of and care for ethical concerns and an active interest in potential responses to moral problems in academic, political, professional, and everyday local and global contexts.

Our program uses a required capstone seminar to assess these outcomes, as well as a required course in Logic (including exams) and an ELA required course in moral reasoning (including papers and exams).

Requirements for BA in Philosophy
Philosophy Core

General Electives
Total electives vary depending on total of other credits.
Credits: 50-52

ELA Requirements
See ELA section of this catalog for details.
Credits: 36-37

Total credits for BA in Philosophy: 120-121
Note: All students are required to complete 33 credits of upper-division work (3000-4000 level courses).

Honors in Philosophy
To qualify for departmental honors in philosophy, candidates must:

  • Have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses.

  • Have a GPA of at least 3.5 in the major.

  • Successfully petition to the Philosophy program faculty to be considered for honors. Petitions will be considered only from students who have completed 75 credits.

  • Form a three-person honors committee to evaluate an honors research project. The committee should include two faculty who teach in philosophy and one person from outside the program.

  • Do a substantive honors research project in the major, write up the project in an honors thesis, and defend the thesis in a public forum.

Philosophy Minor
A Philosophy minor provides students with a background in the ethical, conceptual, metaphysical and historical dimensions of central issues about how we should live and how we should think about the world. It also enhances students’ critical thinking skills.


Total credits for a Minor in Philosophy: 18

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