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Philosophy and Religious Studies

Department Newsletter



Winter 2018

From the Chair - Dr. Matt Altman

The professors in the Philosophy & Religious Studies Department are some of the best teachers on campus, and that is because we are so interested in getting students excited about the material that excites us. I’ve told all of my students that the best part of my job is talking philosophy with them, and it’s true. The reason most of us got into this profession is because we find something new and interesting in what teach nearly every day. The perspectives that students bring to the material often reveal ways of engaging it that we hadn’t considered. Some of my own research has grown out of the productive conversations that I have had with students in the classroom.
One hallmark of coursework in Philosophy and Religious Studies is the innovative teaching methods that we use. For example, in Dr. Bartlett’s Philosophical Inquiry class (PHIL 101), there is an active dialog between students. Twice a week, a dozen students will sit in a circle and discuss a philosophical question for themselves. After class, the dialog continues in the discussion board on Canvas. Then students can choose to write an essay on the question; and even further, to write responses to other students’ essays.
In a recent offering of Dr. Vuong’s Judaism class (RELS 353), one assignment involved a class trip to the Reform Temple B’nai Torah Synagogue in Bellevue, Washington, where they were given a personal tour and talk by Rabbi Lipper. In her Christianity course (RELS 354), students visited an Orthodox, Catholic, and Lutheran Church in Ellensburg and wrote a comparison paper on the development of Christian rituals and practices.
In my own class on Medical Ethics (PHIL 308), students pursue service-learning opportunities in which they use their coursework to make contributions to the local community. For example, a student recently volunteered at a local community health center to design nutritional suggestions that were tailored to Spanish-speaking patients. Another student developed a medical ethics training program for a local nonprofit organization. All of this work demonstrated the value of philosophy outside of academia.
In Philosophy & Religious Studies, our classes are designed to get students actively involved in exploring some of the deepest and most interesting questions -- questions that we have asked ourselves and discussed for thousands of years. We appreciate the work that students invest in their (and our) education.


Upcoming Events


Celebrating Arts & Humanities Speaker Series Presents
Dr. Cynthia Coe: “Refugees and Moral Considerability”
Wednesday, January 31 | SURC 137 A/B | 4:00 PM

In this presentation, Dr. Coe will trace the intersecting and contradictory ways in which refugees are framed in contemporary rhetoric, and discuss the workings of the moral emotion of compassion, drawing on the work of Emmanuel Levinas, Cora Diamond, and Judith Butler.


Winter 2018 Colloquium
“The Dao of Self-Discovery: Adventures with Gao and Pirsig”
Dr. Jeffrey Dippmann
Wednesday, February 21 | Black Hall 151 | 4:00 PM

We will compare and contrast the use of travel and journeying as metaphors for the search for the self in two classic novels: Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974) and Gao Xingjian’s Lingshan/Soul Mountain (1990/2000).

Club News

The Philosophy & Religious Studies Club meets every Tuesday at 4:00 PM in L&L 106 E. The club holds open discussions on topics such as the meaning of life, religion, beliefs, moral and ethical issues, and how we ought to live.


Movie Night!

Tuesday, January 30
4:00 PM, Dean 103
Showing Waking Life with discussion afterward
Free pizza and refreshments!








A Spotlight On...

Lynn Thompson, Secretary Senior

What program(s) of study did you pursue at Central?
When I started my degree, I was working on a BA in Russian and a Minor in Women’s Studies. However, by the time I’d graduated, I swapped the two, and graduated with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Gender Studies and a Minor in Russian. My two most frequent disciplines for my IDS program were sociology and philosophy.

What did you do immediately after college?
I got an internship with Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, which is the non-profit branch of Planned Parenthood focused on lobbying and advocating for women’s rights. It was great introductory experience for the temporary office assistant work I was hired for three months after that. Ever since then, I’ve been on track to become a professional administrator. 

What is your current occupation?
I currently work for the Philosophy & Religious Studies Department as a Secretary Senior. I’ve been working as a Secretary Senior for Central Washington University for five years, first in the Department of Art and now here.

Where are you from originally, and where are you living now?
I’m originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. Or, more specifically, a small city within the Greater Cincinnati area. I moved to Ellensburg in 2008 and haven’t looked back.

What ideas or skills from Philosophy & Religious Studies have stuck with you?
Philosophy courses provide a specific lens that encourages critical thinking and problem solving more than my other disciplines, which focus on statistics and data gathering. But without the critical thinking skills necessary to disseminate that information, all those juicy socioeconomic statistics would just be numbers on a page. Philosophy is what allows those numbers to mean something.


Spring 2018 Course Schedule



PHIL 101 - Philosophical Inquiry
PHIL 104 - Moral Controversies
PHIL 106 - Asian Philosophy
PHIL 150 - Critical Thinking
PHIL 317 - Philosophy of Technology
PHIL 354 - Kant and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy
PHIL 364 - Philosophy of Mind
PHIL 488 - Junior Seminar: Kant's Critique of Pure Reason



RELS 101 - World Religions
RELS 398- Women and Gender in Early Christianity
RELS 398 - Zen Philosophy



In what ways are you using the knowledge you gained at Central?
I still utilize my gender specialty, both through the variety of hobby writing I do, and with the age-appropriate sex education classes I guest lecture for.

What is one of your fondest memories from the time you spent in our classes or in the department?
Dr. Cindy Coe encouraged me to present at SOURCE for her Philosophy of Love course. Through that the course and Dr. Jeff Dippmann’s World Religions class, I formulated a discussion of love through a religious studies perspective. The CAH Best Oral Presentation award I won for that singular event still hangs proudly on my wall at home.

What advice would you give current students? What advice did you wish you had gotten as a student?
As much as shotgunning ten Rockstars during finals week seemed like a good idea at the time, it really was not. If you don’t know the scientific taxonomy of those 30 species of bird by now, you’re not going to after 1.6 grams of caffeine. Just get some sleep.



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