Even though ethicists apparently have no claim to being particularly moral, the courses I regularly teach are primarily related to ethics: Contemporary Moral Issues, Intro to Philosophy, Bioethics, Ethics: Theories of Good and Evil, and Neuroethics. I also occasionally teach seminars that cover current debates at the intersection of science and ethics (e.g., Moral Progress).
A wise philosopher (perhaps Plato?) once counseled against reading comments on the Internet, but some students seem to think my classes aren’t too bad (see RateMyProfessors.com). In 2017, I received the “Outstanding Professor Award” from the students in UAB’s Early Medical School Acceptance Program. They sure earned their $20 bribe.
EMSAP Teaching Award 2017
- Neuroethics – Spring 2023 (some student comments)
- Contemporary Moral Issues – Spring 2023
- Bioethics – Fall 2022
- Intro to Philosophy – Spring 2019
- Ethics: Theories of Good and Evil – Fall 2019
- Honors Intro to Ethics – Fall 2019
- Grading Rubric for Paper Assignments (PDF) – how I grade essay assignments.
- How to Do Well in a College (Philosophy) Class – by Matt McCormick.
- How to Construct an Essay – guidelines for writing an essay/paper (primarily in the humanities).
- Writing in Philosophy – guidelines for how to write essays/papers in the discipline of philosophy (including my grading rubric).
- Sample Philosophy Paper – by Angela Mendelovici (Western Ontario).
- UAB Philosophy Club – open to all, including non-Philosophy majors.
Wellbeing & Mental Health
Wellness isn’t just about avoiding mental illness; it’s about achieving overall wellbeing. I’m not a credentialed therapist, but I do have training in philosophy and neuroscience. For mental and brain heath, I highly recommend the following rules. I wish I had appreciated them much earlier in life, not only to avoid mental unwellness but to promote overall wellbeing.
- Exercise regularly, especially outdoors and ideally out in nature.
- Get adequate sleep. If you feel sleepy during the day, you’re probably not getting enough or consistent sleep. Ideally, go to bed and rise around the same time every day to set your body on a rhythm.
- Eat healthy unprocessed foods that will rot if you leave them on the counter for days. I follow Michael Pollan’s uncomplicated advice: Eat (whole) foods, not too much, mostly plants. This likely requires learning how to cook.
- Improve your habits of thought, not just action. Read Stoic and Buddhist philosophy (even current popularizations of them). And study modern practices inspired by their time-honored wisdom, such as meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy (which you can learn without a therapist).
- Find healthy meaning and purpose in your life outside of school and work. Philosophy and religion can fit the bill, but so can family, friends, hobbies, and helping others.
- Be part of a community (better: communities), even if you’re an introvert. Find your people, hang out with them in person, and make sure there’s plenty of humor afoot. Laughter is the best medicine, not just for curing your woes but for keeping them at bay.
Note: Community is often a linchpin for the other rules. A running club, hiking crew, or volunteering group provides meaning, community, and exercise, which promotes better sleep, which makes it easier to improve your habits (including eating healthy). Your brain finds this combo rewarding, and a positive feedback loop of reinforcement develops. Huzzah!
Why Be a Philosophy Major?
- That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket. Forbes (2015).
- Major in a Minute: Philosophy – video from Georgia State University.
- What Can I Do with This Major? – Philosophy edition.
- Why Study Philosophy? – a list of good reasons that may apply to you.
- Why Study Philosophy? – video by John Corvino at Wayne State University.
- Why Study Philosophy? – webpage by Phil Dept at USC.
- Why Study Philosophy? – pamphlet PDF by UMSL.
- Surprise: Humanities Degrees Provide Great Return On Investment – Forbes.
- Is Philosophy the Most Practical Major? – article at The Atlantic.
- Philosophers Find the Degree Pays Off in Life And in Work – New York Times.
- Careers; Philosophy Majors in Demand – New York Times.
- The Benefits of Being a Philosophy Major – blog post by Katrina Sifferd.
- GRE Stats by Major – philosophy majors tend to do well; a post at Discover Magazine.
- In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined – New York Times.
- Who Studies Philosophy? – celebs and other notables, by the APA.
- Study the Humanities – a toolkit with info on majoring in humanities disciplines.