The philosophy department expands with two new concentrations

Kori Hines, Editor-in-Chief

The philosophy department has added two new options for students in their department – a bioethics track and a social justice track.

These concentrations provide students with opportunities to conduct research and develop their studies outside of the previously established basic and professional tracks.

With an emphasis on contemplation in action, the social justice track provides students with the opportunity to connect philosophical knowledge and social action. Students on this path will “develop skill[s] to be leaders, advocating for the advancement of human dignity.”

One of the first students to opt in for the social justice track is Madeline Shriver, ’20. “My experience at Rockhurst in VOICES for Justice and serving in the KC community [has] cultivated my desire to turn this passion into a career path,” Shriver said.

The bioethics track “reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the field.” With this track, two abstract worlds meet – philosophy and science.

The study of bioethics involves scientific research, medicine and global technology. In combination with philosophy, bioethics provides undergraduates with the opportunity to analyze philosophical concepts and their relation to science.

Rockhurst is joining the ranks of other Jesuit colleges who offer a bioethics concentration. Recognized by organizations like the Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities, bioethics is increasingly needed in undergraduate studies, said Brendan Sweetman, chair of Rockhurst’s philosophy department.

Similar to the originating philosophy concentrations, the bioethics and social justice tracks encourage students to study a combination of philosophy courses, leadership classes and courses in other disciplines.

As a graduation requirement, each philosophy student completes a capstone project, which involves research outside of the classroom and in partnership with a professor in the field.

Beyond their time at Rockhurst, these new paths for philosophy students avail an array of career options. For those on the social justice path, the department foresees students pursuing non-profit and social work, legislative and legal advocacy and immigration work. Students in bioethics may pursue careers related to medicine and healthcare.

Shriver, who plans to attend law school, said “I chose to study philosophy because of the emphasis it places on critical thinking and logical analysis…the skills one learns through studying philosophy are beneficial in every career.”

Currently, the department has 16 students as minors and 20 as majors, most of whom “double major,” Sweetman said.

Most of these students did not begin their college journeys with philosophy on their minds, but considered studying it after taking a few philosophy courses. And that seems congruent with the nature of philosophy itself – contemplative.

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