Ethics and Social Change Pave the Purple Path to a Better World
“One of my favorite parts about teaching philosophy is the way in which studying philosophy enables students to ask themselves deep questions about their core values and beliefs, and invites them to think about a multitude of perspectives beyond their own starting position.”
Lisa Kretz, PhD
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Interacting in the community positively affects the world
Lisa Kretz, PhD, expresses, “We really are a family here.” UE’s community and social commitments are illustrated by the Scholars for Syria initiative, an incredible campus-wide effort to educate about the Syrian Crisis and support our Syrian students. Hundreds have attended the lecture series this organization has hosted, and the Syrian students do outreach at local schools with the help of the Scholars for Syria student group and numerous other students, staff, faculty, administrators, and members of the local Evansville community. This is just one of many inspiring initiatives available for students to get involved with on campus.
The art and science of teaching
Kretz grew up in Canada and chose to pursue a career specializing in ethics. She is dedicated to a reflective pedagogical approach (pedagogy is the art and science of teaching), and for this reason completed a degree in education in addition to her graduate work in philosophy. Many of her publications focus on the intersection of ethics, pedagogy, and student engagement.
Kretz uses a variety of techniques in her classes within the Department of Philosophy and Religion. She incorporates large and small group discussions, documentaries, PowerPoint, action projects, student presentations, and daily discussion points prepared by students prior to class. Drawing from a diversity of teaching techniques, says Kretz, “affords me creativity and flexibility on a class-by-class basis and helps to support an effective learning environment.”
Recently one of her students commented that they find Kretz’s classes to be a safe space to talk about all the topics people feel uncomfortable discussing: racism, sexism, homophobia, abortion, euthanasia, poverty, climate change, etc. Kretz explains, “I think that learning how to act with more compassion toward all living creatures and the wider environment is one of the most important areas for human development given the current social, political, ecological, and economic context. In an ethics class, we get to work on this every day.”
Introducing Ethics and Social Change
Kretz is extremely enthusiastic to introduce the Department of Philosophy and Religion’s new major, ethics and social change. She explains, “The ethics and social change major supports students as a program of study that brings together theory and practice.” Students not only take courses in ethics, they also choose two areas of concentration from business administration, cognitive science, communication, criminal justice, environmental studies, legal studies, gender and women’s studies, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology or social work.
Required courses in ethics and sociology encourage both critical thinking about oppression and utilizing empirical methods for assessing the operations of oppression. This interdisciplinary degree truly allows students to collaborate with their advisors and design a degree that speaks directly to their passions.
There are two fieldwork courses included in the core requirements of the major, which help students garner the skills to concretely make the world a better place and not just talk about issues in the classroom. Kretz mentions, “Being able to make a tangible, positive difference in the world is empowering. These sorts of opportunities contribute to what makes the philosophy program, the philosophy and religion department, and the University of Evansville unique.”