Philosophy and Ethics

The University of Dubuque Philosophy and Ethics major focuses on perennial human questions: What is real? How do we know? What is right and wrong? In this program, students read works by representative western philosophers and are introduced to other traditions as well. The program’s emphasis is on learning to think, communicate, and write about difficult philosophical and scholarly information and reasoning. The aim is to produce informed graduates who can think about information and texts critically, analyze arguments and issues, make rational decisions, and communicate effectively. Students learn how different thinkers have approached the basic questions of life. But more importantly, they develop skills and leadership experience that will enhance their personal and professional lives

What You Will Learn

  • By studying, analyzing, and evaluating the ideas of philosophers, past and present, students in the Philosophy Program develop important skills for thinking about their lives, their careers, and issues we face in the world.
  • Students will develop skills that enable them to analyze and understand difficult information.
  • Students will learn to evaluate this information by sorting out arguments and recognizing logical and illogical forms of reasoning.
  • Students will gain valuable skills to be used for writing about scholarly and technical topics.
  • Students will learn to think philosophically about their professional and personal lives.
  • At the end of their course of study, students in the program complete a semester-long service or internship experience, reflect on their college learning, and write an essay in which they articulate a framework for moral decision-making.

Program of Study

A University of Dubuque degree in Philosophy and Ethics offers core and elective courses for all students with the objectives of helping them develop skills in critically analyzing claims, issues, and ideas; contemplate basic questions about the world, life and reality; appreciate the wisdom and insights of great thinkers in the history of human thought; think critically and constructively about their own beliefs, values, and worldviews; develop a commitment to ethical and responsible living in our diverse global community, and gain skills in careful research and academic writing.

What Our Students Do

University of Dubuque philosophy students read and study the works of great philosophers of the past and present, challenging their own beliefs and those of others. Students also learn to seek better answers to the perennial issues we face as human beings.

Where Our Graduates Go

University of Dubuque Philosophy graduates go into entry-level jobs in many fields including publishing, business, and management, or attend graduate school in philosophy, theology, or law. Current Philosophy graduates are serving as lawyers, college professors, pastors, and business leaders. 

News from the Department

Speaker: Gordon Marino, October 29, 2018.

In cooperation with the Scholar-Leader program and the Wendt Center, philosophy and ethics students were stimulated by a lecture by Gordon Marino of St. Olaf College, entitled "Philosophcial prescriptions for dealing with anxiety, depressoin, and other life challenges." After the lecture, students enjoyed further discussion with Dr. Marino over dinner.

Book Discussions

During the 2018-2019 academic year, students from the UD Scholar-Leader program, the philosophy and ethics program, and the politics program met regularly to discuss the Existentialist's Survival Guide, by Gordon Marino (Fall semester), and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig (Spring semester). 

Philosophy Over Lunch, November 7, 2019.

Students and faculty have been meeting for lunch to discuss a variety of intriguing philosophical topics, including What is happiness? What is death? and Should Billionaires Exist?

Speaker: Joel Carillet

On November 4, 2019, the department, in cooperation with the UD Scholar-Leader program hosted speaker, Joel Carillet.  Joel is a Traveler, writer, and photographer, who has made it his life to document life around the world in photography and writing.  In his words, "Traveling, when done well, is nothing less than learning to love. . . It is learning to love places in all their complexities and contradictions, beauty and horror.  It is learning to love our connectedness--that no matter what the religion, war, language, or worldview, we are, when all is said and done, neighbors in a world we share."

A Major in Philosophy and Ethics consists of 30 credit hours.

Required Foundational Courses

  • PHL 111 Big Questions in Philosophy and Ethics
  • PHL 114 Logical Reasoning

Philosophy Courses (at least 6 credits of the following):

  • PHL 118 Philosophy at the Movies
  • PHL 261 World Philosophies
  • PHL 355 Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
  • PHL 356 Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
  • PHL 357 Special Topics in Philosophy
  • PHL 485 Internship
  • PHL 491 Independent Research

Ethics Courses (at least 6 credits of the following):

  • PHL 115 Introduction to Ethics
  • PHL 214 Environmental Ethics
  • PHL 216 Business Ethics
  • PHL 251 Comparative Religious Ethics
  • PHL 270 Global Justice
  • PHL 312 Ethics and Issues
  • PHL 314 Political Theory
  • THEO 114 Christian Sexual Ethics
  • THEO 215 Christian Social Ethics

6 additional credits in electives.  These may include any six credits from the Philosophy or Ethics categories above, or the following course plus three credits from the Philosophy or Ethics categories; 

  • PHL 428 The Quest for Leadership

Required 400-level Courses

  • PHL 475 Ethics in Community
  • PHL 495 Senior Seminar

Minor in Philosophy and Ethics requires 21 credit hours from all of the courses listed for the major.  These 21 credits must include at least 6 credits from the Philosophy Courses list and 6 credits from the Ethics Courses list above.

Christine Darr (2018)


Christine Darr

Department Head for Philosophy, Politics and History
Associate Professor of Philosophy
PhD, University of Iowa
BA, Northwestern College

Phone: 563.589.3305
Office: 330 Severance Hall
Fax: 563.589.3416

Roger Ebertz (2018)


Roger Ebertz

Professor of Religion
PhD, MA, University of Nebraska
MDiv, Fuller Theological Seminary
BA, Carleton College

Phone: 563.589.3669
Office: 323 Severance Hall
Fax: 563.589.3416

Brian Hallstoos (2018)


Brian Hallstoos

Associate Professor of History
PhD, University of Iowa
MA, Rutgers University
BA, University of Minnesota Morris

Phone: 563.589.3855
Office: 313 Severance Hall
Fax: 563.589.3416

Adam Smith (2017)


Adam Smith

Assistant Professor of Political Philosophy
PhD, Brandeis University
MA, Institute for Christian Studies
BA, Olivet Nazarene University

Phone: 563.589.3796
Office: 334 Severance Hall
Fax: 563.589.3416

Karin Anderson (2018)


Karin Anderson

Adjunct Instructor


Amanda Beverly (2014)


Amanda Beverly

Adjunct Instructor
MDiv, University of Dubuque
BA, University of Dubuque


Eric Miller (2016)


Eric Miller

Adjunct Instructor
MA, Western Illinois University                                
BA, St. Ambrose University


Dennis Yergler (2010)


Dennis Yergler

Adjunct Instructor of History
PhD, University of Iowa
MA, Iowa State University
BS, Iowa State University  

Phone: 563.589.3353
 334 Severance Hall


Careers in Philosophy and Ethics

The Philosophy and Ethics major does more than prepare students for a career in a particular field. A philosophy degree prepares students with thinking, problem-solving, and writing skills for agility in a world where most individuals change career fields multiple times in the course of their lives. The University of Dubuque Philosophy Program creates individuals who can understand difficult material and teach themselves new information on the job. Because of this, philosophy majors can succeed in many fields. Recent philosophy graduates from the University of Dubuque have successful careers in public administration, business, law, Christian ministry, secondary education, and higher education.

BS Opportunities

As a philosophy major, students learn skills applicable to a wide variety of contexts. Because the major focuses on critical thinking, analytic reasoning, technical writing, and research, students who graduate with this major are often very successful in jobs in business, computers, finance, public administration, insurance, journalism, marketing, publishing, sales, and technical writing. National statistics on salaries ranked according to major indicate that philosophy majors with no further education can establish successful careers in many fields. As a second major, philosophy can give depth to the student’s education and provide a critical edge over those with another major.

Post-graduate Opportunities

The philosophy major provides a good basis for master of arts and doctor of philosophy degrees in philosophy, religion, and theology. Philosophy is also an excellent preparation for law school. Nationally, philosophy majors consistently rank among the top two or three majors in Law School Admission Test scores. Philosophy majors can pursue graduate programs in public administration, finance, journalism, and business.

Successful Outcomes

Eric Dickman BA, 2002 Philosophy

I’m currently the associate professor of philosophy and religious studies and chair of the Religion and Philosophy Department at Young Harris College (Young Harris, Georgia). I consider myself a teacher-scholar because my research interests are always informing my teaching, and my various classes always spark something new connected with my research interests. UD, and the Philosophy Department in particular, inspired in me to pursue the “big” questions. The professors mentored me in intellectual and existential integrity. My commitment to liberal arts literacy grew out of my undergraduate experience in philosophy, English, and other courses. I try to advocate for the same life of the mind that UD taught me to love.