Mission & Vision
The Philosophy Department at Cal Poly Pomona has organized its programs to meet both the abstract and the practical philosophical interests of its students. Our programs allow students to pursue the traditional questions about the nature of truth, knowledge, justice and reality while examining the relevance of these questions to the problems of contemporary society.
Traditional undergraduate philosophy education emphasizes the development of certain core aptitudes (construction and appraisal of arguments, etc.) alongside the systematic investigation of foundational questions regarding human nature, knowledge, and the good life. The philosophy degree programs at Cal Poly Pomona extend these traditional objectives, focusing on how these aptitudes and investigations can be applied to the societal, institutional, and personal challenges emerging in our dynamic and technologically driven global world. The Department of Philosophy thus hopes to fashion students prepared to lead their communities and their workplaces in the critical engagement of these challenges. A Cal Poly Pomona philosophy degree holder will model evidence-based thinking, ethical conscientiousness, and sensitivity to diverse perspectives on the challenges we face individually and collectively. Our graduates are polytechnically educated in a classical sense: they master multiple bodies of knowledge and the application of these bodies of knowledge to diverse problems. Unsurprisingly, this approach to undergraduate learning has generated a documented record of alumni success in fields such as law, public policy, education, etc.
The department pursues these objectives through its curriculum, its co-curriculum, and its high impact practices. Its introductory courses familiarize students with key philosophical problems, while its Proseminar and Senior Thesis serve as curricular ‘bookends’ that instill the aptitudes and dispositions of intentional learners. All department majors are exposed to the discipline’s history and main subfields, while students in the Law and Society option receive an in-depth education in moral, political, and legal philosophy. The department’s students are heavily involved in co-curricular learning activities —including the Clinical Ethics Practicum, the Judicial Internship, Mock Trial, and Ethics Bowl — that connect them to practitioners and disciplinary experts. Through its conferences, ‘brown bag’ colloquium series, and student organizations, the department engenders a lively community of inquiry that maximizes student contact with faculty mentors.
Our recently updated Learning Outcomes have been constructed to align with this fully-realized approach to the education of our students. We stress the development and application of analytic and critical skills, communication philosophical breadth and detailed knowledge in specialized areas. Our learning outcomes can be found here.
Our assessment efforts seek to determine the degree to which students master core philosophical aptitudes and gain both breadth and depth of philosophical knowledge. We exploit our ‘bookend’ courses to administer direct assessment measures, including a critical thinking exam, an exam measuring breadth of student knowledge, and a rubric-based evaluation of early and later student papers. Our most recent assessment of our students has led us to rethink the organization and purpose of the Senior Thesis. We are moving away from a model that gives students total freedom to choose any topic they would like to a more supervised model where students pick a thesis topic (from a limited list of possible topics) in consultation with both the instructor of the course and the second reader. The department is working actively to strengthen its relationships with its alumni and identify tools with which to assess our programs via evidence gathered from our graduates.