Philosophy and Religious Studies

Department Newsletter


Fall 2016

From the Chair - Dr. Matt Altman

Let’s talk about office hours. Professors are required to have them, yet not a lot of students take advantage of them. I’m here to tell you that you should.

Everyone has trouble understanding the material sometimes. So why don’t people ask their professors about it? Perhaps the number one reason why students don’t come to office hours is because they’re reluctant to “bother” their instructors. Let me put that myth to rest. My colleagues and I like nothing better than talking about philosophy and religious studies with our students. Most of us went into the profession because we wanted to teach, and discussing things one-on-one is often the best way to do that. Come to the professor with a specific question or topic that you’re struggling with. You can ask follow-up questions, press us to explain things more thoroughly, and not let things go until they are clear in your mind. This helps you to absorb the content of the course more fully and to do better on class assignments.

Furthermore, when you meet individually with your professor, you can take the conversation in new directions that may be beyond the bounds of what you’re covering in class and that relate to what interests you personally. You’d be surprised by how often this kind of conversation generates paper ideas, even senior thesis topics.

If you can’t make our posted office hours, suggest some other times when you are available. When we say that we will meet “by appointment,” we mean it. I often joke in my classes that, if I have to skip a meeting to talk to you, I’ll give you extra credit. Behind this joke is the desire to do all that I can to help students succeed. This is the most important thing we professors do.

There are good parts of my job and not so good parts. Talking to students is one of the good parts. I encourage you to visit your professors during their office hours. We’ll all be better for it.


Students at the Northwest Philosophy Conference

Three of our own students attended the Northwest Philosophy Conference at Gonzaga University in October, where three of our department faculty presented their work: Dr. Altman, Dr. Bartlett, and Dr. Coe. Jeremiah Serrell, Jacob Hendrix, and Summer Aubrey, all
students and members of the Philosophy & Religious Studies Club, used this opportunity to see for themselves what graduate students and professors of philosophy are currently working on. The students enjoyed being able to network and engage in philosophical discussion with their professors from CWU and other professionals at the

Summer particularly enjoyed a presentation titled “Existential Crises of the Multi-Racial Individual: An Expansion of Du Bois’s Double Consciousness Theory.” The presentation was directly related to the Philosophy of Race class that Dr. Coe is teaching and in which several of the club members are enrolled. Jacob enjoyed the opportunity to be able to see three of his professors presenting to and interacting with their peers, as well as getting to listen to their current work. All three students agreed that the conference was both edifying and engaging, and they were glad to have had the opportunity to attend.
—Submitted by Summer Aubrey and Jake Hendrix



A Spotlight on... Dr. Michael Hundley

Where did you get your degree(s), and when?
I got my B.A. in Economics from Amherst College in 2000, about the time most of my students were born. I got my Ph.D. ten years later from the University of Cambridge, followed by an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Munich from 2011-2013.

Where are you originally from?
Princeton, New Jersey.

Tell us something about yourself.
I’ve been married thirteen years and in that time have moved fourteen times and lived in four different countries. Along the way, we’ve acquired three kids: Kaya (8) and Evvie (6) were born in England, and Matthew (4) was born in Germany.

What do you do outside of teaching?
I’m basically a dog. I spend a lot of time with my family, chasing my kids around. When I’m not doing that, I like chasing balls around, especially basketballs and soccer balls. I rarely catch any of them.

What do you love most about teaching?
I love interacting with my students. I feed off of their energy, youth, and potential (a bit like a vampire) and pretend that I’m still young. It is a real honor to be a small part of their lives and to have the opportunity to shape how they see the world.

What classes are you teaching now?
I’m currently teaching World Religions at Central. I also love teaching “Gods and Monsters,” “The Early History of God,” and various courses on the Bible.

What’s your most embarrassing moment while teaching?
Hmmm. I actually like to embarrass myself. My kids like to dress me up in the craziest outfit they can find and then make me show it to my classes. So, if you take a class with me, you might get some good blackmail material.



Winter 2017 Course Schedule

PHIL 101. Philosophical Inquiry
PHIL 104. Moral Controversies
PHIL 106. Asian Philosophy
PHIL 150. Critical Thinking
PHIL 302. Ethical Theory
PHIL 308. Medical Ethics
PHIL 353. Early Modern Philosophy
PHIL 359. Contemporary European
RELS 101. World Religions
RELS 376. Contemporary Religious
RELS 398. Speacial Topics: Portraits of




"Vanishing Moralities" and The Search for General Tso with Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn

Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn, professor of philosophy and director of Belmont University’s Asian Studies program, will join us for two days of talks and lively discussion on November 15 and 16. The author of numerous books, including Introduction to Chinese Philosophy, Confucianism: An  Introduction, Daoism: An Introduction, and Riding the Wind with Liezi (coedited with our own Dr. Dippmann), professor Littlejohn was recently named Tennessee Professor of the Year in 2015. His research in Comparative Philosophy and continuing study abroad programs to China  for Belmont students also resulted in his receipt of the Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching presented by the International Conference on Teaching and Learning in 2003.

On November 15th at 5:00 PM, please join us as Dr. Littlejohn leads a panel discussion and screening of the documentary film The Search for General Tso. As the film’s website describes it, “This mouthwateringly entertaining film travels the globe to unravel a captivating culinary mystery. General Tso’s chicken is a staple of Chinese-American cooking, and a ubiquitous presence on restaurant menus across the country. But just who was General Tso? And how did his chicken become emblematic of an entire national cuisine? Director Ian Cheney (King Corn, The City Dark) journeys from Shanghai to New York to the American Midwest and beyond to uncover the origins of this iconic dish, turning up surprising revelations and a host of humorous characters along the way. Told with the verve of a good detective story, The Search for General Tso is as much about food as it is a tale of the American immigrant experience.” Panelists will explore the issues of migration, networking in the face of persecution, and food culture. As an extra bonus, CWU Dining Services is co-sponsoring the event with the Asian Studies Program, and providing sampler plates of General Tso’s chicken and steamed rice. The event takes place in the SURC Ballroom.

On Wednesday, November 16th, again at 5:00 PM, Dr. Littlejohn will present at this fall quarter’s Philosophy & Religious Studies Colloquium. In “Vanishing Moralities: The Dissolution of Morality in Daoism and Buddhism,” he explores how two classical Asian traditions of philosophy have approaches to morality and ethics which deconstruct this practice. In this presentation, the texts and teachings upon which this move rests will be identified and the implications of living a life apart from guidance by moral directives as understood in these traditions will be discussed. This fall’s colloquium will be held in Black Hall 152.