I. Mission statement
The Philosophy Department sees as its mission, first of all, to
serve the general education of PSU students by promoting an awareness
of the importance and central place of philosophy in a liberal arts
education. This means not only imparting some familiarity with the
history and great problems of philosophy, but also a recognition of
the relevance of philosophy in our everyday lives, public and private.
Secondly, the Department recognizes its duty to serve the PSU students
who choose philosophy as their major field of study.
II. Educational Goals
A. General education courses in philosophy aim to provide:
1. understanding of (some) history of philosophy including its
impact on ideas in religion, ethics, politics and science.
2. understanding of (some of) the main problems of philosophy,
including the existence of God, freedom of the will, the nature of
reality and knowledge, and the quest for the good life.
3. an increase in critical thinking skills as applied to both
traditional philosophical problems and contemporary social issues.
4. awareness of the relevance and applicability of philosophical
ideas and reflection to the social and political issues of our time.
B. The major in philosophy aims to provide:
1. a fundamental understanding of, and appreciation for, the history
of philosophy and the main ideas and thinkers who constitute it.
2. an enhanced capacity to think critically and ³philosophically²
about traditional philosophical problems as well as contemporary
social-political issues. This skill should be reflected in both the
studentsı written work as well as in group discussion.
3. a view of philosophy which promotes its application to human
problems on both the individual level (e.g. ³search for meaning²
problems) and the social level (e.g. social-ethical problems), and
which allows the student to see that philosophy is ³relevant² to both
oneıs life and to contemporary social problems.
4. preparation for any fields that can benefit from the mental
training imparted by the study of philosophy, including study in such
areas as law, teaching and many other professions.
The PSU Department of Philosophy will propose a plan to assess our
programıs effectiveness in the weeks ahead. While we believe that we
can produce a plan that will be useful, we are mindful of philosophyıs
unique subject matter and nature which make attempts to quantify and
measure educational achievement somewhat problematic. The American
Philosophical Association has given this subject special thought, and
we note their words of caution in a recent publication (Proceedings
and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, 1996,
Vol. 69, No. 2, pp. 94-95):
The APA is concerned that requirements placed upon departments of
philosophy and upon individual instructors to implement OA [outcomes
assessment] in its more radically conceived recent guises .. may be
neither well warranted nor pedagogically wise. We observe that little
work would appear to have been done to assess the value of OA itself
in improving teaching and learning. It is moreover pointless to
prepare extensive assessment programs in the absence of evidence that
the means of assessment already iin place can be improved upon with
tangible educational benefits great enough to justify the costs and
...The APA urges administrators and public officials to be judicious
and reasonable in applying the concept , however; to recognize
practical application; to consider whether the means of assessment
already in place at an institution can actually be improved upon; and
to give due regard to the important fact that some of the most
important sorts of education cannot be captured by Outcomes
Assessment, and indeed, may be endangered by it.