Philosophy in Utah

Tuning Philosophy

The Utah Board of Regents urges disciplines to consider “Tuning” their programs across institutions. “Tuning” is a process whereby departments try to come to a consensus about what abilities their students should have, and perhaps also what knowledge they should have, two years into their program and at the point of graduation. This is a good idea for a couple of reasons. First, and most practically, it eases transfer among our schools, since departments have a shared idea of what a 2-year preparation in philosophy should yield. Second, it prompts us to think through our curricula and make sure that we are developing the kinds of skills in students we think we should be developing.

Here is more information about Tuning from the website of the American Association of Colleges and Universities:

Utah is one of three states funded by The Lumina Foundation for Education to pilot a process called Tuning modeled on a similar effort launched in Europe and known as the Bologna Process. The Bologna Process was launched in 1999 by education ministers in 29 European countries and is designed to improve transfer, articulation, and the expression of outcomes by asking what experiences are essential to particular college degrees.

Utah was invited to participate in the Tuning Process because it already conducts a similar exercise annually. In Utah, some 32 academic disciplines meet yearly to discuss transfer, articulation, learning outcomes, competencies, and assessment. Faculty involved in this process in Utah are mapping the cross-cutting outcomes that guide the LEAP initiative [Liberal Education and America’s Promise] to those already expected of students in particular fields. As part of the initial Tuning Process, Utah is involving physics and history faculty in all institutions in the Utah System of Higher Education to clarify their learning outcomes at depths appropriate for each academic credential beginning with the associate degree and moving up to the doctorate.

This page is meant to offer a “discussion space” where we can begin to share some thoughts about the following central questions:

1. What skills and knowledge should a student have who has completed two years of study in philosophy?
2. What skills and knowledge should a student have who has earned a 4-year degree in philosophy?

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1 Comment »

  1. Well, since I put those questions out there, I may as well offer some tentative answers at least to the first one, and see if that gets any discussion going.

    It seems to me that someone with a 2-year exposure to philosophy ought to have these skills:
    a. ability to recognize an argument and raise a relevant objection to it;
    b. along with this, the ability to take an objective stance toward a line of argument
    c. a basic ability to write clearly (say for a 2-3 page paper).

    I think someone at the 2-year point should have encountered these subjects/topics:
    a. ethics
    b. some history of philosophy, including Plato and Descartes
    c. some metaphysics and epistemology

    Comment by Huenemann — October 25, 2010 @ 12:07 pm


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