Philosophy & Critical Thinking Program
LaGuardia College, CUNY
The philosophy program at LaGuardia currently offers 115 sections of philosophy to 3000+ students annually. Students selecting the Philosophy Major will be prepared to transfer into philosophy programs at four-year institutions with a solid and coherent foundation in the discipline. But these students will also be well prepared to continue their studies in a variety of disciplines. Philosophy has been called “the ultimate transferable work skill” because it teaches how to think critically, reason effectively, communicate clearly, solve problems intelligently, and construct thoughtful well-grounded beliefs. The Times of London (August 15, 1998) writes of philosophy in America:
"The great virtue of philosophy is that it teaches not what to think, but how to think. It is the study of meaning, of the principles underlying conduct, thought and knowledge. The skills it hones are the ability to analyze, to question orthodoxies and to express things clearly. However arcane some philosophical texts may be…the ability to formulate questions and follow arguments is the essence of education.
It can also be studied at many levels. In the U.S., where the number of philosophy graduates has increased by 5 per cent a year during the 1990s, only a very few go on to become philosophers. Their employability, at 98.9 per cent, is impressive by any standard. Philosophy has always been a good training for the law; but it is equally useful for computer scientists. In this country, the Higher Education Statistics Survey puts philosophy of science right up with medicine in its employment record for graduates. Philosophy is, in commercial jargon, the ultimate 'transferable work skill.'"
These core thinking and language abilities will enhance success in every area of life. Thus, the philosophy program at LaGuardia offers a curriculum that provides an invaluable foundation for virtually every career, and the newly created Philosophy Major will enhance this academic mission. The Philosophy Major at LaGuardia has been articulated with three 4-year branches of CUNY: Queens College, Brooklyn College, and Lehman College.
In addition to honing critical thinking abilities and communication skills, philosophy also provides a greater understanding of our intellectual heritage and essential issues concerning ourselves and the world in which we live. The success of the area, which began in 1974 with the founding of the College, is due to the unique approach of the program combined with a dedicated and high-quality faculty. The program views the discipline of philosophy as powerful vehicles for students to develop the knowledge and critical thinking abilities needed to clarify and make sense of themselves and the world in which they live. It thus combines academic rigor with a real-world orientation, knitting together critical thinking abilities and philosophical themes into the fabric of the students’ experience.
Philosophy courses at LaGuardia are often thematically linked to other courses, forming Liberal Arts Clusters built around such themes as "The Religious Experience", “"Moral Thinking", or "Freedom: Personal and Political". Faculty teaching these courses use New York City as an extension of the classroom, engaging students in activities that range from visits to the Holocaust Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, to projects researching ethical challenges facing New York City. Philosophy courses have also been actively involved in the Honors Program at LaGuardia, with at least one Honors section being offered each semester.