Save the Philosophy Major at SUNY Fredonia
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Recently, we have learned that the administration of SUNY Fredonia is considering cutting several “under-performing” programs, including its BA philosophy major. Another change.org petition (https://www.change.org/p/suny-fredonia-students-and-alumni-stand-against-the-vanm-cuts-at-suny-fredonia has shown the massive support there is in this community for the various arts programs that also are on the chopping block, and we stand in solidarity with these programs. But we also wish to act as a voice for what we would dare to say is a necessary part of the university: the philosophy major and the philosophy department along with it. Though the department is small, it has nevertheless resonated with both with its majors and those who elect to take its classes as both important and incredibly useful in their lives beyond Fredonia. Philosophy also plays a necessary role in constructing a liberal arts education, an education that supplies its students not only with a deep understanding of their major’s content, but also the kind of general knowledge and skills that will aid them in becoming better people. Philosophy, in particular, is concerned with cultivating these skills, like critical thinking, with the aim of aiding us in living a more fulfilling and aware life; skills that may be said to be in short supply in our modern world. To be clear, the removal of the major will not lead to the removal of the staff, but it will severely restrict their ability to teach upper-level courses, which constitute some of the most enriching courses that both majors and non-majors alike choose to take each semester. It will also, inevitably, lead to the dissolution of the department, meaning the faculty would be absorbed to into a different, amalgam department. This will be the final nail in the coffin for any hope that the study of philosophy will be expanded or even preserved under this administration. The saddest part is that the administration is willing to risk all of this for a near insignificant amount saved. Many of these points are made by a letter written by several SUNY professor and for more precise information the letter is a good place to start (http://dailynous.com/2018/12/12/philosophy-chairs-suny-campuses-come-defense-fredonia/ By removing what is far from an “under-performing” department we risk losing a fundamental part of a liberal arts education, and, therefore, lose an important component of the intellectual life of SUNY Fredonia.
By signing this petition, we intend to stand in support of the BA Philosophy program and do not support its elimination. We also demand greater transparency from the administration and respect for the value of this the Philosophy department as an integral part of this educational community. This petition is simply the first step, for we support efforts that promote such transparency and respect in the form of rational discourse, the very strategy that was born in the field of Philosophy. We encourage all students, faculty, alumni, and lovers of wisdom to stand up for the Philosophy department and demand that the administration preserve this essential department, thereby preserving the intellectual character of this institution.
Like many philosophy majors, I didn’t develop my love for the subject until my sophomore year. This is when I took my first philosophy class, and it is when I discovered that this more than any other field had what I was looking for. Since then, I have taken it on as my primary (of two) major(s) and have decided, due in great part to the various upper level courses I have taken, that I wish to pursue this subject in grad school. Personally, if it were not for the freedom (already limited as it is) that the philosophy department has in offering advanced coursework I may not know what I intend to do after college. The department’s size has actually helped me in this sense as, like many students before me, its size has allowed me to build direct contact and more fruitful/informative academic relationships with my professors furthering my confidence in pursuing philosophy. Ending this would mean that a person like me in the future would go through college slightly dissatisfied and unsure with what will do, and that is something I think this college has a vested interest in avoiding. If you have any personal stories about how philosophy at Fredonia has impacted you, or how philosophy, in general, has had an influence in your life let us know in the comments section. This may only be a first step in the action we have to take to keep philosophy thriving at Fredonia, but it is a necessary one. So, share this with anyone who feels similarly and values a strong philosophical presence in this and all higher education schools.
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