If a stone has been left unturned, students can easily turn it by pursuing an Independent Study. Supervised by a faculty member, Independent Studies involve a wide range of reading and the completion of an extended paper. Recent Independent Studies have included The Schizophrenic Mind, Consciousness and Brain Scanning, and Race and Sport.
Students may also choose an in-depth study within the framework of a Tutorial, wherein frequent meetings and extended, detailed discussions with a supervising faculty member are required. Topics of recent tutorials have included Ethics and Sexual Orientation and Ethics and World Hunger. Matt Simpson '94, now a student in the Ph.D. program at Boston University, completed a tutorial with Professor Drew Hyland on Plato's Theaetetus in Greek.
Majors seeking to graduate with honors in Philosophy are required to complete a Senior Thesis, which resembles an Independent Study or Tutorial, but which includes the writing of an extended paper for review by two or more Department faculty members. Recent Senior Theses have been written on ecofeminism, the ethics of population control, a defense of Ronald Dworkin's philosophy of law, and a communitarian critique of John Rawls. Other subjects of recent student research are Bioethics, Feminism and horror film, and Neo-Marxism.
Trinity's Philosophy Department shares interests, course work, and research with many other departments at the College, adding considerable depth to the study of philosophy.
The Philosophy Department's innovation in providing detailed links between philosophy and science has been recognized by a National Science Foundation grant. The tradition of Western philosophy has always emphasized the intertwining of philosophic and scientific thought, such as the relation between cosmology and metaphysics, and the nature of knowledge itself. Trinity is the only undergraduate school in the country to pursue these connections in the form of philosophy labs. At Trinity, a philosophy laboratory now exists where students can perform research on the concept of time, computational science, and the modeling of certain kinds of mental activity, such as memory - all in relationship to philosophy.
Thought processes are of central interest to philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience; therefore, the Philosophy Department works closely with the Psychology Department and the Neuroscience Program. Because our perception of the world around us is inextricably linked to and revealed in the creative process and product, the Philosophy Department works closely with the English and Fine Arts Departments. And because philosophers reflect and affect the time in which they live, the Philosophy Department works closely with History, through courses such as The Presocratics to Augustine and Hume to the End of the 19th century. Philosophy students at Trinity have collaborated with professors of history and psychology on recent research papers.
The value of studying philosophy is recognized by Trinity students across all the disciplines. In a recent study of 14 Northeast colleges, Trinity led in philosophy course enrollments by undergraduates.
Trinity's setting in Hartford provides student philosophers with excellent opportunities for internships that will enhance their major. In keeping with the Department's commitment to interdisciplinary study, Philosophy majors have pursued internships with arts and other organizations such as U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd's office; hospitals, such as Hartford, Mt. Sinai-St. Francis, John Dempsey Hospital, and the Institute of Living; and many other agencies and institutions, such as the State Department of Corrections. Matt Gandal '89 did an internship as a project manager for Food Share and is now a research assistant, Educational Issues Department, at the American Federation of Teachers in Washington.
Teaching Assistantships in Philosophy are available and provide an outstanding opportunity for majors to apply their knowledge of the subject matter by leading review sessions, reading papers, or assisting in classwork.
Since a change in vantage point changes one's perception, Trinity's Philosophy Department encourages its majors to study abroad. Philosophy students have attended the London School of Economics and universities in Edinburgh and Vienna, as well as Oxford and Cambridge in England. After a semester abroad of environmental studies in Kenya, Terri Lee '95 decided she wanted to work with ecosystem mapping. She says, "I was encouraged by people advising me at Trinity to study away my senior spring semester, where I did research and analyzed data for a national wildlands project. Because Trinity worked with me and adapted to my needs, I was able to see my project to fruition and help preserve critical habitats, and still return to my base at Trinity."