Directed studies offer students a chance to explore their academic interests in ways that go beyond the department's course offerings and traditional class structures.They can choose to focus intensively on a specific sub-area of a field that was introduced in a course.They can investigate a new topic that interests them but is not normally covered in the department curriculum.They can also develop work that was started in a course, but is now calling for more thorough and nuanced research.Students applying to graduate school can take a directed study to engage in undergraduate research designed to produce a scholarly writing sample-a substantive philosophical work demonstrating mastery of a complex philosophical issue.
The directed study is the first opportunity for the student to take the lead in development of a research project.The work, done in consultation with a faculty mentor, consists largely of independent research, reading, and writing by the student, who sets the agenda for meetings every couple of weeks.The faculty mentor serves as a sounding board for ideas, a resource for information and possible directions for the student's research project, and the primary person to deliver feedback on drafts in the process of production of a polished work.
The directed study, therefore, requires motivation, focus, discipline, and leadership on the part of the student. The bulk of the work will be done independently-being in charge of a project means making decisions, developing ideas, reading, writing, revising, and thinking on one's own.
All that said, the directed study can be an intensely rewarding experience-it represents a major step in the journey from promising student to mature intellectual.
Some recent directed study topics done by students in the Philosophy Department include:
Metaphor in Philosophy of Language
Thomas Kuhn's Philosophy of Science
David Hume's Philosophy of Religion
Søren Kierkegaard and Islamic Martyrdom
Friedrich Nietzsche and the Will to Power
Foundational Issues in the Epistemology of Proof
Theories of Interpretation in Philosophies of Art
Soundness and Completeness Theorems in Logical Metatheory
Students considering directed studies should consult Philosophy department faculty the semester before the study begins to discuss ideas for projects.
Last Modified: August 29, 2012