FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a list of courses offered by Western State Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the current university catalog at To determined the courses required for your major, check the "Majors and Minors" tab for your area of study.


An introduction to some of the primary conversations structuring debates in literary theory and criticism. Students learn to identify central questions, assumptions, and conflicts in theoretical and critical texts. Students also gain an understanding of the ways that theory and criticism influence their immediate experiences in English courses. Prerequisites: ENG 250 with a minimum grade of "C" and at least one 300-level literature course, or instructor permission.


A seminar on the complexities of environmental issues from a philosophical perspective. The course also offers a survey of the evolution of environmental moral philosophy as well as in-depth analysis of major thinkers in the field. Students confront ethical concerns from both historical and personal perspectives, with an emphasis on the ability to critically evaluate and apply these perspectives to their work in environmental fields. Prerequisite: ENVS 301 and 350; or PHIL 335.

 PHIL 101 - INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY GAH3 (3 credits)

An introduction to the central philosophical questions that have historically spanned and conceptually founded Western civilization. The course surveys key thinkers, philosophical movements, and academic fields of the discipline. Questions regarding the meaning of existence, the freedom of the self, the nature of a just society, and the workings of human knowledge expose students to the pursuits of metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, philosophy of science, moral and political philosophy, and ethics.


An introduction to historical and contemporary approaches to epistemology, philosophical methodology, logic, systems of classification, and methods of validation. Emphasis is placed on critical inquiry into the complex relationship among logic, empiricism, and rationalism, while focusing on the real-world implications of the epistemological assumptions of logic itself. Prerequisite: PHIL 101

 PHIL 315 - EASTERN PHILOSOPHY (3 credits)

An introduction to the central philosophical questions which have conceptually founded Eastern philosophy. This course surveys primary texts, intellectual movements, and cultural traditions that inform and influence Eastern philosophy while investigating the theoretical spaces that exist between philosophical assumptions of the East and West. Prerequisite: PHIL 101


A discussion of the significance of women and gender in the development of philosophy. This course questions how the philosophical canon has appropriated, incorporated, and sometimes erased women's contributions. Drawing upon a variety of discourses in and outside of philosophy itself (including feminist and queer theory), students will assess how the philosophical endeavor changes in light of previously overlooked and currently influential gender studies work. Students will use gender and sexuality as a framework that enriches and interrogates philosophical fields ranging from cultural theory to epistemology. Prerequisite: PHIL 101

 PHIL 335 - ETHICS (3 credits)

An examination of influential moral philosophers and contrasting theories concerning how one "ought" to live, from ancient Greek and Eastern philosophers to contemporary thinkers. Central questions of the course explore the "good life," critique ideologies that limit ethical options, and imagine how to expand individual choices in cultivating a just society. The course concludes with student applications of ethical theories to current global issues. Prerequisite: PHIL 101.


An exploration of the significance of faith in our human worldview. Through a comparative approach to major world religions, students investigate the underlying assumptions behind the ways of “knowing” God and participating in the “divine,” and how those assumptions diversely manifest themselves culturally, metaphorically, and psychologically. Prerequisite: PHIL 101.


An exploration of the ongoing relationship between philosophy and science, and an examination of how philosophical movements have informed some of the major shifts in scientific paradigms throughout history. The course concludes with an examination of how scientific revolutions potentially “de-center” humans and reorient the relationship between the self and the world. Prerequisite: PHIL 101.


The course analyzes, and provides students the opportunity to more deeply investigate, the philosophical foundations of spoken and written representation through a broad survey of theoretical readings in aesthetics, authorship, interpretation, realism, and subjectivity. Examining a diverse range of classic and contemporary thinkers in philosophy and cultural studies, the course explores the ways representation frames the experience of being in the world, and asks such questions as: ‘How do ideas become the words we speak?’; ‘Do the words we speak mean the same when writ-ten?’; and ‘What makes the narrative possible?’ The answers to these questions have broad philosophical, political, and cultural implication. Prerequisite: PHIL 201 or PHIL 335 or ENG 371.


A survey of the historical development of western political theories from their origins in ancient Greece to the development of early modern political theories such as liberalism and republicanism. Students study thinkers such as Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, William Shakespeare, Niccolo Machiavelli, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Prerequisite: POLS 117 recommended.


A survey of the historical development of modern and contemporary political theories since the French Revolution. Issues investigated might include the rise of liberal democracy and its critics, the impact of the industrial revolution on modern politics, and how technological change and environmental limitations have affected contemporary political thought. Students study thinkers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt, and Michel Foucault.POLS 117 recommended

Western State Colorado University Philosophy minor provides students with an understanding of the history of philosophy, an exploration of diverse worldviews, and the tools to examine the complex, unexamined assumptions underlying contemporary society.  The Philosophy minor emphasizes development of logical and analytical skills, affording students the intellectual ability to theorize, articulate, and support sophisticated philosophical perspectives.

Why study philosophy at Western?

A minor in philosophy is both a practical endeavor and a life-enriching experience.  For many, the liberal arts university experience will, unfortunately, be the only place where thinking for the sake of thinking is supported and encouraged.  But with a philosophy minor, graduates will be more likely to keep thinking once they leave academia, and bring their ideas to fruition in whatever field they choose.  Not only will they understand why education matters, but they themselves will matter in the world.

The philosophy minor at Western State Colorado University was specifically designed to complement any major that Western State Colorado University offers. Given that philosophy as a discipline allows individuals to see the world from varied perspectives and helps to provide rational approaches to evaluate ideas, a minor in philosophy deepens the value of a liberal arts education itself by providing the tools needed to understand and appreciate the relationship among the fields of study available at Western State Colorado University.

For those considering graduate school, a minor in philosophy helps sharpen verbal and analytical skills needed for the GREs, LSATs, and GMATs.  Most importantly, however, philosophy provides exposure to the theoretical discourse in which graduate work engages.

Outside of academia, a philosophy minor helps develop real-world, professional skills.  A background in philosophy enhances communication, argument, and critical thinking skills.  Those with experience in philosophy are better able to understand and classify the content of information presented to them, and are not easily swayed by opinions disguised as facts.  Philosophy also helps individuals to understand key issues in decision-making and problem-solving situations.  It enhances research, investigation, design, and planning skills.  Being well-versed in philosophy enhances the ability to see situations from multiple perspectives, and better define the parameters of the task at hand.

All of these skills are “transferable,” meaning that they are not career-specific.  Current trends indicate that over a current University graduate’s lifetime, he or she will hold several jobs in several different fields.  Thus, having skills that can move with an individual through any career shifts becomes vital to “real world” success.  Reasoning, researching, planning, and communication are essential to problem solving and clearly presenting ideas.  Whether planning to go into a traditional or non traditional career, a background in philosophy will enhance the knowledge gained in an individual’s specific field of study, and allow the broadest range possible in terms of later career opportunities.

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Faculty & Staff


Dr. John C. Hausdoerffer
Professor and Director of the Master of Environmental Management Program; Professor of Env Sustainability & Philosophy; Director, Headwaters Project
B.A., Western State Colorado University; , M.A., St. John's College; , Ph.D., Washington State University.
Phone: (970) 943-3450
Office Location: Kelley Hall 107
Lecturer in Philosophy, English, & Communication Arts
Ph.D., University of California, M.A., University of Colorado, B.A., Western State Colorado University
Office Location: Taylor Hall 212C
Director of Philosophy, Professor of Philosophy and Communication Arts
B.A., Pace University , Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany
Phone: (970) 943-3004
Office Location: Taylor Hall 208E