Describe your course. What will the students be studying and learning?
This course serves as introduction to the history of Western Philosophy and as an introduction to the practice of doing philosophy. We will be basing our trek from the Ancient Greeks to the 20th Century on a study of the intellectual virtues that philosophers have considered essential to the search for truth and the living of flourishing, excellent human lives.
Why would a first-year student want to take this course? Discuss its uniqueness as part of the University College, your teaching style, and any special opportunities the students may have.
Contrary to the image of the philosopher studying alone in the ivory tower of solitude, I believe philosophy is best done in community. As such, my teaching style is centered around class discussion. The great thing about the University College setting is that since all of the students live together and the class size is smaller, the possibilities for real dialogue that continues for the entire semester are enhanced. Friendships based on sharing, creating, and challenging ideas can be formed in such an environment, and the texts and concepts we will be studying are that much more illuminated.
What do you like best about teaching first-year students?
Teaching introductory philosophy courses to first-year students is easily my favorite aspect of teaching at American University. Since most students have not had much, if any, philosophy, prior to attending college, it is exciting to introduce students to the richness of the traditions we study and to the transformative ways of thinking those traditions make possible.