Welcome to the University of Portland and to the Department of Philosophy! Our department includes eleven full time and several part time faculty members, with approximately 35 students majoring in our program.

Philosophy plays a central role in a liberal arts education, as an integrating discipline across the curriculum. Training in philosophy develops the student's ability to explore and critically reflect upon the most fundamental questions about human beings and society, the universe, and God. By focusing on its own history, philosophy both acquaints students with the intellectual foundations of Western civilization and provides an opportunity to question that tradition's assumptions. Our department also provides opportunities to encounter philosophy as it has been pursued in other times and places and seeks to expose students to the rich diversity that exists in philosophical method and focus. By enabling students to become reflective, critical and articulate about their own beliefs and values, philosophy makes an essential contribution to the education of individuals, whatever their vocational plans, and to the development of the community.

The major aims of the Department of Philosophy are:

  • To contribute to the general education of students through our place in the core curriculum.
  • To provide majors with a grounding in the history of philosophy, and a wide range of contemporary approaches and sub-disciplines, sufficient to prepare them for graduate studies.
  • To be active and successful scholars whose work, both as teachers and researchers, commands the respect of our peers.

University of Portland is a particularly good place to study philosophy. Our Philosophy Department has eleven full time faculty members. That is many more philosophy professors than you will find at many comparably sized colleges and universities. A larger faculty means that we can offer students exposure to a greater diversity of philosophical areas, styles, and perspectives. We have specialists in Asian philosophy, Native American philosophy, ancient philosophy, Medieval philosophy, modern philosophy, feminist philosophy, socio-political philosophy, ethics, philosophy of agency, philosophy of religion, and many other areas and perspectives. We also have faculty representing the Anglo-American tradition, the Continental tradition, the Latin American tradition, and the American Pragmatic tradition. Our faculty members have written books and articles on David Hume, on Freud and philosophy, on bioethics, on feminist ethics, on personal identity and on Heidegger, amongst other things.

We work with students on independent studies and theses in their areas of interest in addition to teaching a wide range of classes. Philosophy classes are small enough that there can be a great deal of discussion and your professors will get to know you. Additionally, there is a lot of opportunity for philosophy outside of the classroom. The Philosophy Club and our chapter of Phi Sigma Tau, the international honor society for philosophy, regularly sponsor events for students. A number of our majors have presented at least once, and some more than once, at undergraduate philosophy conferences.

Those philosophy majors who want to go on to graduate school often go to high-ranking philosophy graduate programs with full funding. Among the PhD programs to which our recent philosophy majors have gone are: University of North Carolina, Boston College, University of Toronto, Indiana University, Emory University, and Purdue University. Some philosophy students have gone on to law school, to graduate study in biology, to graduate study in mathematics, to medical school, to graduate study in counseling, and to graduate study in psychology. Philosophy graduates are also now working for business, the non-profit sector, K-12 education, and in the political realm.

More broadly, the department seeks to foster an appreciation for interdisciplinary study, as well as an understanding of and appreciation for the richness of human diversity. It contributes courses to the following interdisciplinary programs of study: Catholic studies, environmental studies, gender and women's studies, Hellenic studies, social justice, and neuroscience. Members of the department also serve as faculty advisors for two student clubs outside the department — Feminist Discussion Group and Movimiento Estudiantil de Chicanos de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A.) - and have participated in and provided leadership for two faculty study groups: Latino/a Interdisciplinary Study Group and Faith and Intellectual Life Discussion Group.

We invite you to explore our programs, and to contact us if we can answer any further questions for you.


Alejandro Santana, PhD
Chair, Philosophy Department