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Philosophy and Education

Department of Arts & Humanities

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Program Description

This program has shaped the historical course of philosophy of education in America. From the groundbreaking work of John Dewey and William Heard Kilpatrick to the achievements of their most recent successors, Jonas Soltis and Maxine Greene, the program’s philosopher-scholars have been leaders in the field. The Philosophy and Education Program offers students a unique opportunity to develop their humanistic and critical thinking about education. 

Faculty and students in the program devote this thinking to a wide variety of questions, including:

  • What visions of the human being animate contemporary schooling?
  • How can education be a force for social reform?
  • What is the role of aesthetic experience and the imagination in education?
  • What type of education befits a multi-cultural society?
  • What is the nature of the teacher-student relationship?

Other areas of interest include:

  • The education of democratic citizens
  • Moral education
  • Critical thinking
  • Education and technology
  • The ethics of teaching

The Philosophy and Education Program provides an opportunity for educators to broaden and deepen their understanding of the processes and aims of education through inquiry into the fields of aesthetics, ethics and moral philosophy, social and political philosophy, and epistemology and the philosophy of science. Study of a variety of historical and conceptual frameworks enables students to develop theoretical perspectives on education and to effectively analyze and critique arguments in contemporary educational debates.

Recent dissertations include studies of equity in access to education, Nietzsche's conception of education, the ethics of school choice, cosmopolitanism and education, the nature of authentic learning, Matthew Arnold's conception of liberal education, and human rights education in light of Kant's moral philosophy.

Degrees

  • Master of Arts

    • Points/Credits: 32

      Entry Terms: Spring/Summer/Fall

      Degree Requirements

      The Master of Arts degree program is designed to introduce educators and professionals with a wide variety of interests to the study of philosophy and education. In addition to the required 12 points in Philosophy and Education courses, students may use their electives to develop an area of educational interest (e.g., educational policy, curriculum and teaching, developmental psychology, etc.) and to develop an area of philosophical interest (e.g., ethics, social philosophy, philosophical anthropology, etc.).

  • Master of Education

    • Points/Credits: 60

      Entry Terms: Spring/Summer/Fall

      Degree Requirements

      Similar to the Master of Arts degree program, the Master of Education degree program is designed to provide a more in-depth and intensive introduction to the study of philosophy and education. In addition to the required 18 points in Philosophy and Education courses and 3 points required from the Philosophy Department at Columbia University, students may use their electives to develop an area of educational interest (e.g., educational policy, curriculum and teaching, developmental psychology, etc.) and to develop an area of philosophical interest (e.g., ethics, social philosophy, philosophical anthropology, etc.).

  • Doctor of Education

    • Points/Credits: 90

      Entry Terms: Fall Only

      Degree Requirements

      The Doctor of Education degree program is flexible and responsive to individual student backgrounds and needs. Each student takes responsibility, in consultation with his or her advisor, for designing a course of study that will meet the program requirements while catering to the individual’s interests and professional goals. Exact requirements vary for each doctoral program. For example, students in the Ed.D. program will also develop a minor in an educational field such as educational policy, curriculum theory, or comparative education.

      At the center of that course of study are the program’s research and professional development curriculum and other classes in philosophy and education. In addition to the required 36 points in Philosophy and Education courses, students are also required to do coursework in the following areas: 9 points of philosophy through the Columbia Philosophy Department or Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, foundations of education, and educational breadth. These requirements are modest, leaving room for students to craft a personalized course of study. Additionally, 18 points in the Philosophy and Education requirements are in the program’s professional development sequence. 

  • Doctor of Philosophy

    • Points/Credits: 75

      Entry Terms: Fall Only

      Degree Requirements

      The Doctor of Philosophy degree program is flexible and responsive to individual student backgrounds and needs. Each student takes responsibility, in consultation with his or her advisor, for designing a course of study that will meet the program requirements while catering to the individual’s interests and professional goals.

      At the center of that course of study are the program’s research and professional development curriculum and other classes in philosophy and education. In addition to the required 36 points in Philosophy and Education courses, students are also required to do coursework in the following areas: 12 points in philosophy, through the Columbia Philosophy Department or Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, foundations of education, and educational breadth. These requirements are modest, leaving room for students to craft a personalized course of study. Additionally, 18 points in the Philosophy and Education requirements are in the program’s professional development sequence.

      Students should also contact the Office of Doctoral Studies about university and college-wide requirements, procedures, and deadlines for doctoral students. The doctoral programs require students to demonstrate reading proficiency in one of the following languages: French, German, Greek, or Latin. In rare cases, such as for writing the dissertation, another language can be approved in consultation with program faculty.  

Faculty

  • Faculty

    • David Hansen John L & Sue Ann Weinberg Professor in Historical & Philosophical Foundations of Education
    • Megan Laverty Associate Professor of Philosophy and Education

Courses

  • A&HF 4090 - Philosophies of Education
    An introduction to primary texts, central questions, and rival traditions in philosophy of education. An invitation to develop one's own philosophy of education.
  • A&HF 4091 - The Call to Teach
    Reading and discussion of philosophical and other works that illuminate what it means to be a teacher, whether of children, youth, or adults. Consideration of motives, rewards, and challenges in teaching.
  • A&HF 4092 - Education and the Aesthetic Experience
    An invitation to engage with works of art which challenge conventional ways of thinking and perceiving; consideration of the relation of art, imagination, and education.
  • A&HF 4094 - School and Society
    An examination of historical and contemporary conceptions of the relation between schools and society. Consideration of issues in social and political philosophy that bear on the question of why have schools at all.
  • A&HF 4190 - Philosophies of Education in the Americas: North America
    Major American thinkers and outlooks and their impact on education: Thoreau, Emerson, Fuller, and transcendentalism; Pierce, James, Dewey, and pragmatism; Douglass, Du Bois, and African-American education; Anthony, Stanton, Addams, and feminism.
  • A&HF 4192 - Ethics and Education
    An introduction to influential philosophical perspectives on professional ethics. Attention to the roles, relations, and responsibilities of educators in the context of such ethical considerations as the good human life, practical wisdom, and virtue ethics.
  • A&HF 4194 - Dialogue and Difference in the Multicultural Classroom
    Philosophical exploration of the pedagogical, psychological, social, and political issues surrounding the recognition and misrecognition of difference. Consideration of theories of dialogue from Plato to Freire.
  • A&HF 4196 - Identity and Ideals: Visions of Human Flourishing
    An introduction to influential philosophical perspectives on what it means to be a successful, whole, and flourishing human being. Attention to issues of personal identity and personal ideals and how these can evolve over time.
  • A&HF 4198 - Philosophies of Education in the Americas: Latin America
    An introduction to significant lines of philosophical inquiry about education across Latin America, from pre-conquest civilizations through the present time. Consideration of writings by Bartolomé de las Casas, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Aimé Césaire, José Enrique Rodó, Gabriela Mistral, José Carlos Mariátegui, and others.
  • A&HF 4900 - Independent Study in Philosophy and Education
    Permission of instructor required.
  • A&HF 5090 - The Philosophy of John Dewey
    An analysis of the principal educational works of John Dewey.
  • A&HF 5092 - Philosophy Goes to School
    (* Addendum: Updated 01/29/2021) An introduction to pre-college philosophy education. Analysis of children's philosophical thinking and of the philosophical dimensions of children's literature. Class participants will create a ‘community of inquiry’ by studying cognitive, social and philosophical aspects of classroom discussion.
  • A&HF 5093 - Ways of Knowing
    Readings in epistemology in the context of teaching, learning, and educational research, from classical and enlightenment sources to feminist, hermeneutic, psychoanalytic, and postmodern critiques. Topics include objectivity and subjectivity and problems of interpretation in the arts, humanities, and natural and social sciences.
  • A&HF 5190 - Critical Perspectives in Philosophy and Education
    Close reading and discussion of classic and contemporary critical theories. Examination of class, gender, race, and sexuality issues in canon, classroom, and society.
  • A&HF 5590 - Voices in Philosophy and Education
    Topics vary. Close reading and discussion of one or more key thinkers in philosophy of education and the history of ideas (e.g., Plato, Kant, Pragmatism, The Frankfurt School).
  • A&HF 5591 - Educational Debates in Philosophical Perspective
    Topics vary. Convened to promote philosophical discussion of a contemporary educational issue (e.g., patriotism, privatization, standards, technology) or ongoing debate (e.g., liberal education, moral education, standardization).
  • A&HF 5596 - Topics in Educational Ethics and Moral Philosophy
    Topics vary but may include any of the following: the moral sources of educational aims, the nature of ideals, the ethics of teaching, moral education, and meta-ethics.
  • A&HF 5600 - Colloquium in Philosophy and Education
    A series of formal presentations and discussions with scholars in the field of Philosophy and Education.
  • A&HF 6000 - Doctoral Pro-seminar: Ancient Philosophy and Education
    Permission of instructor required. For first- and second-year doctoral students in Philosophy and Education. Close reading and discussion of primary texts in ancient philosophy that have shaped the field of philosophy of education. Complements A&HF 6100.
  • A&HF 6100 - Doctoral Pro-seminar: Modern Philosophy and Education
    Permission of instructor required. For first- and second-year doctoral students in Philosophy and Education. Close reading and discussion of primary texts in modern philosophy that have shaped the field of philosophy of education. Complements A&HF 6000.
  • A&HF 6500 - Dissertation Proposal Workshop in Philosophy and Education
    Permission of instructor required. Prerequisites: A&HF 6000 and A&HF 6100. An ongoing writing workshop required of all doctoral students after completion of the Proseminar sequence. Students develop research interests, hone philosophical skills, and draft dissertation proposals. Offered every Fall and Spring semester.
  • A&HF 6590 - Advanced Seminar in Philosophy and Education
    For doctoral students in Philosophy and Education or by permission of instructor. Topics vary and may range from close reading of a single text to exploration of a key concept or problematic. Past topics include contemporary theories of democratic education, cosmopolitanism and education, and conceptions of teacher education.
  • A&HF 6900 - Advanced Research in Philosophy and Education
    Permission of instructor required. For doctoral students in Philosophy and Education only.
  • A&HF 7500 - Dissertation Seminar in Philosophy and Education
    Permission of instructor required. Required of doctoral students in the semester following successful completion of the doctoral certification process or in the semester in which the student defends the dissertation proposal, whichever comes first.
  • A&HF 8900 - Dissertation Advisement in Philosophy and Education
    Permission of instructor required. Individual advisement on doctoral dissertations. For requirements, see section in catalog on Continuous Registration for Ed.D./Ph.D. degrees. Fee to equal 3 points at current tuition rate for each term.
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