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Skidmore College
Philosophy Department

Student Learning Goals

Content Goals

Upon completing a major in philosophy, students will know (and be able to explain or utilize):

  1. significant terminology, concepts and ideas in the discipline of philosophy;
  2. major developments within and across a range of traditions, methodologies, and approaches in the discipline of philosophy;
  3. relevant debates, positions, and arguments on a variety of issues in the discipline of philosophy;
  4. how a-c above are developed within at least two major historical periods of Western philosophy, with a sense of the general characteristics of each period and the ways in which they relate and contrast;
  5. how a-c above are developed concerning the following general areas in philosophy: (a) the nature of knowledge and reality; and (b) the nature of value, meaning, and social relations (ethical, political, social, aesthetic, environmental, etc.);
  6. how a-c above are developed in at least one Asian, Africana, or Indigenous tradition of philosophy;
  7. the relevance of philosophy to at least one other academic discipline.

Skills Goals

Upon completing a major in philosophy, students will demonstrate competence in each of the following areas. (Items with asterisks should be introduced in all 100-level courses as well as in PH-203 and PH-204.)

  1. Critical Thinking and Close-Reading Skills
    1. *discern the structure of arguments, represent them fairly and clearly in either graphical or textual forms, and evaluate them for cogency;
    2. apply the basic concepts of formal logic;
    3. *in a complex text, distinguish between main points and subordinate points, tentative suggestions and final conclusions, author’s position and positions against which author is arguing, thesis and arguments by which the thesis is supported;
    4. *formulate original arguments, anticipate objections, and respond in a conscientious fashion;
    5. fairly evaluate opposing arguments;
    6. develop one’s own views and support them with cogent arguments;
    7. *identify and formulate philosophical questions;
    8. integrate ideas from interdisciplinary frameworks;
    9. synthesize ideas in new and creative ways;
    10. *think critically and independently.
  2. Written Communication Skills
    1. *write an essay that is clear, well organized, and driven by a specific thesis relevant to the paper’s topic;
    2. *support the central thesis with appropriate use of argument and evidence;
    3. *utilize primary sources effectively in the development of the paper’s argument;
    4. utilize secondary sources effectively in the development of the paper’s argument;
    5. *define and use technical terms and concepts properly;
    6. make distinctions between the presentation of relevant data and/or arguments made by others and the critical analysis of those materials.
  3. Oral Communication Skills
    1. *engage in and/or lead sustained and productive conversation;
    2. *engage others with different views from one’s own in debate, discussion, and dialogue, and do so both confidently and respectfully;
    3. communicate orally, in both formal and informal contexts, demonstrating skills such as clarity of expression, appropriate selection of topic and materials, clear organization, effective presentation, and the ability to adapt to audience, setting, and occasion.
  4. Research and Information Literacy Skills
    1. formulate a research question;
    2. use information sources to discover relevant materials that address their research question;
    3. evaluate the quality of sources of information and research materials;
    4. formulate a response to the research question, situating it in the research landscape;
    5. *cite and acknowledge sources with integrity.
  5. Teamwork, Collaboration, and Intellectual Virtues
    1. work well both independently and as part of a team;
    2. *approach work with intellectual patience and persistence;
    3. *follow a line of philosophical inquiry wherever it leads, even when doing so challenges one’s deeply-held personal beliefs;
    4. *communicate openness to the ideas of others and a willingness to exchange ideas with and learn from others;
    5. display perseverance in the face of opposition from others (until you are convinced you are mistaken) and the willingness to examine—and actively seek out—evidence that would refute your own hypotheses.
  6. Visual Literacy Skills
    1. use images, objects, and/or visual media effectively;
    2. design and create meaningful images, objects and/or visual media.
  7. Technology Skills
    1. develop competency with technology in the research, analysis, and presentation of one’s ideas.