Pioneers Forward

“Mission: Philosophy” Pioneers Forward

Students Fight to Organize Philosophy Major

Pioneers ForwardWhat initially began as five inspired college students pushing to add another field of study to the curriculum has become a well-supported movement to encourage the University to offer its students philosophy as a major.

In the fall 2010, five students, Jessica Celestino, Aziz Mama, Emily Curry, Matthew-Donald Sangster, and Andrew Bell, found themselves in the same intriguing existentialism class that left them with a new appreciation for philosophy and a love for the subject.

Once the group discovered that the University did not offer a philosophy major, they mobilized in spring 2011 and have since been working to add the major.

“Mission: Philosophy” promotes the philosophy major and all of the benefits it offers. In order to raise awareness about the movement, the executive board members of the Philosophy Club, who are also the pioneers of the movement, have made numerous presentations in first-year seminar classes and introductory classes in the social sciences and humanities, according to Curry, Secretary of the Philosophy Club and one of the movement’s pioneers.

“We wish to make the students aware of the lack of a philosophy major, gain student support, and encourage students interested in philosophy to declare a minor,” added Curry.

Philosophy was offered as a major at the University at one point in time during the 1980’s, but it was eventually dropped due to lack of student interest. “Many students don’t take philosophy seriously because there is not an obvious career path for a philosopher,” said Bell, Vice President of the Philosophy Club. “However, philosophy is extremely important in order to analyze things critically.”

The movement has garnered the support of many students, as well as professors and administrators.

“‘Mission: Philosophy’ has over 400 signatures of students who show their support along with a few students who have declared philosophy minors,” said Mama, Philosophy Club Treasurer. “We also have the support of a number of faculty who see having a major in philosophy as beneficial to both the students and the institution.”

Despite “Mission: Philosophy”’s strong support system, the movement and its founders have also encountered a few bumps in the road.

The lack of student support and awareness about both the philosophy major and minor has been one of the administration’s main reasons for not taking into consideration the message of “Mission: Philosophy.” “The biggest roadblock has been the staff and administration,” said Curry. “On one hand, we have a ton of wonderful faculty members who support our movement, but some administration has been telling us that we still haven’t gained enough student support, and we need to get more students interested and more declared minors.”

Apart from a lack of support from the faculty, students have also been slow to endorse the movement. “Some students are hesitant to show their support because they feel unsure of how philosophy could be helpful to them or why they should add a few extra classes to their schedules, but having a philosophy major would do more for the University as a whole than it would for students alone,” said Mama. “Most liberal arts universities have philosophy majors, while Monmouth does not, and having the major would further support the liberal arts program established at Monmouth.”

Many of the movement’s pioneers are upperclassmen, and a concern of the group is ensuring that the movement and word of “Mission: Philosophy” continues to spread and stay alive. “It’s extremely important that this movement continues even after we graduate because this long, bureaucratic process will not be completed until after we graduate,” added Bell. “We are looking for fellow students that are interested in carrying the mission on.”

For those who feel that philosophy has nothing to offer them and does not enhance their major, the movement’s group members believe that everyone can benefit from at least the philosophy minor.

According to Curry, the idea of philosophy is to teach people how to think and how to use their thinking in any way, rather than using rigid facts and learning methods, and these teaching practices are what make philosophy diverse and relevant to people of any major or career field.

“Philosophy is a serious major when one looks at the kind of material that would fall into the category of philosophy,” said Mama. “Ethics, existentialism, logic, existence, and reason are all topics that merit equal consideration in any serious university trying to foster the growth of the minds if its students.”

In the upcoming weeks, the group plans meet again with the administration to discuss its progress and support and set things in motion for the philosophy major curriculum program.