"Major" Improvements for the Department of English and Philosophy

By Lauren Boyle

September 20, 2009 — Plato and Aristotle would certainly give their approval of Drexel University as the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of English and Philosophy announce a major in Philosophy, as well as a Secondary Education Certification.

With the support of Dean Dr. Donna Murasko, the Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Ms. Joan MacDonald, and dedication on the part of the English department’s faculty members, the number of English majors at Drexel has increased significantly in recent years. To continue this upward trajectory, the English Certification Program was developed. The program is aimed at English majors, who will use their electives to fulfill the required education courses for the certification. It is also geared towards students who are Education majors opting to minor in English, and can complete the certification simultaneously. Aside from the obvious benefit of an additional employment opportunity, students choosing to earn the certificate will help shape future generations of young people. By using skills and knowledge gained through the study of literature and related courses, they will teach secondary school

About the benefits of the certificate program, Dr. Abioseh Porter, head of the Department of English and Philosophy, explained, “It is our belief that this avenue will suggest more alternatives and hence room for more growth for students who plan to study English at Drexel.”

The department’s expansion and evolution of well-rounded, diverse programs provides students with a philosophical interest a new opportunity as well. Interest in the Philosophy minor at Drexel, as well as the avid devotion of Department Head Dr. Jacques Catudal and other faculty members, has made the new major possible. Advocacy on the part of Drexel faculty, along with a nationwide resurgence of interest in the intellectual skills associated with the study of Philosophy have also led to the creation of two certificate programs, the Philosophy Certificate in the Arts and Humanities and the Philosophy Certificate in Science and Technology. A Drexel student choosing to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy or earn one of the certificates will cultivate the ability to think logically, to ask the right questions, to develop creative solutions, to communicate clearly, and to discern what is valuable from what is irrelevant.

“A great deal of thought and research has gone into the design of the proposed Major in Philosophy,” Dr. Catudal explained. “We believe it represents the cutting-edge in higher education curriculum design.”

Some of the distinctive features of the new Philosophy curriculum include a significantly higher number of free electives, built-in, faculty-developed mechanisms for evidence-based assessment of teaching, and a re-working of course designs to fit classroom, hybrid and online environments. Also, the program will require a one-on-one senior project, with an undergraduate senior and a tenure track instructor working the entire year to produce a journal quality argumentative essay.

In the process of pursuing the development of the major, the department will create 16 new undergraduate courses, and revise 28 existing courses. Philosophy courses cover material in the arts, sciences, and technologies, as well as ethical issues within professions. Classes, including both lecture and discussion formats, will allow students to use other disciplines as subject matter, which could help guide post-undergraduate plans. Statistics have shown that on the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) Philosophy majors have the highest average verbal reasoning scores and quantitative reason scores than in any other humanities majors. Similarly, Philosophy majors have the highest average score on the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) than in any other humanities major.

Despite this statistical evidence that Philosophy majors are capable intellectuals, students and parents may worry that the major seems impractical. Can all that “thinking” get you a real job? The answer is a resounding Yes. Impeccable critical reasoning, problem-solving, and analytical skills make a Philosophy major the perfect candidate for nearly any professional environment.

Although the creation of the new major and certificate programs will undoubtedly benefit the College of Arts and Sciences as a whole, Dr. Catudal said, “We think that Drexel students are the real winners here!”

Lauren Boyle graduated in June of 2010 with a B.A. in English.