Your Browser Doesn't support the Javascript Message from the Chair
Skip navigation

East Los Angeles College

Home > Academics > Departments & Disciplines > Philosophy > Message from the Chair
Message from the Chair

Image is of Tim Snead, Chair

Welcome to the Philosophy Department's website. Here you can find information on our courses, faculty, club, and other aspects of our department. However, as the Chair, I would like to speak about how I envision the mission of our department and the relevance of this mission to our students here at ELAC. Of course, the following consists of my opinions but I think they reflect the department and campus as a whole.

Let us start with the beginning. If ELAC's motto is "ELAC—GO ANYWHERE" then it must contain this prevision. "ELAC—GO ANYWHERE IF YOU DECIDE." Let's be honest, it is the mission of ELAC to make college accessible to everybody, since everyone has a right to learn and be exposed to a proper learning environment. Everyone benefits from a college educated citizenry. However, as it turns out, not everyone is made for college and the rigors of its true collegiate pursuits—as we all know, life can readily get in the way. With family, jobs, and trying to keep a life above water, it can be extremely difficult trying to do all this and at the same complete classes from a broad spectrum of disciplines and programs. And often not being able to see the connection in the courses required, or even maybe not even really knowing where one is going in terms of the transfer educational pathways, inhibits the success of any student's progress. Students know they want the degree but are often not sure in what field of study they will earn it. In short, for a myriad of reasons, some people graduate while some don't. Indeed, perhaps too many don't.

But then too it is common knowledge that if students have an education plan, and have decided their educational path, they are more likely to complete their courses, finish their requirements and ultimately graduate. And further that a college graduate can earn roughly $17,000 more a year than those who don't graduate. So what's the upshot on this? Students who not only plan but decide their educational pathway at ELAC, move on to fulfill their higher educational goals. Furthermore, given all this, it is now college policy that all students must declare a major after completing 15 units of course work. So, the question is: What are your educational goals and what educational pathways will you choose to get you there? ELAC offers various pathways to your success. Which pathway will be yours? So the motto should be now ELAC—GO ANYWHERE WHEN YOU DECIDE!"

Given this new motto, the pressing concern for us here at ELAC Philosophy is how all this relates to the students who take our courses. Thus, many important questions abound. Like: How do philosophy courses connect to, and comport with, our student's decision and transfer processes here at ELAC? What role do we play in our student's educational pathway and journey? And whether or not you choose to declare Philosophy as your major, how does our department contribute to our student's educational pathway? Can our philosophy courses serve the practical goals of our students—goals such as obtaining a successful and meaningful career, as well as satisfying our fundamental intrinsic need for education and knowledge? Why should ELAC students choose our courses when deciding on what pathway they should take?

All important questions for us. Our answer to these and many other questions is "Yes!" Yes, philosophy courses not only fulfill transfer requirements for all students, but "Yes" they also help students find their educational goals, especially for the undecided major. Philosophy students delve into and ask important questions about all facets of their lives, and in doing so figure out who they are, what their worldview is, and what role they should have in it. That our discipline has an extensive and profound history, allows our department to offer a wide range of different courses that reflect that illustrious heritage of personal inquiry. Thus, whether a student may be set in a career pathway, our courses address the topics that, when investigated fully, satisfy our inherent need to know and thus provide an intrinsic value to our fundamental sense of curiosity. Asking the great philosophical questions can shed a lot of light on oneself and thus help to confirm one's academic and career aspirations. And our faculty and our courses (their CLOs) are dedicated to fulfilling this purpose. To this end, many students who are undecided in their pathway finish our courses with new directions in their lives. They see their life, not just their educational, pathway from different perspectives. They can go "anywhere" because they have a better view of what that anywhere looks like.

Even for those adamant or set in their pathways, we say "Yes" philosophy plays a huge role in your education since philosophy courses provide essential critical skills necessary for effective educational and career goals. We provide courses in logic, ethics, history and religion that test students on complex critical issues and theories; courses that challenge our students to think deeply and seriously about their lives. Some say a critical college education should not tell you what to think but how to think. Well, we partly agree. We not only emphasize what to think about, and how to think about it, but ultimately our aim is to get our students just to think. To get each student to think about how he or she would answer such a philosophical question or solve such an ethical problem. So, yes, there is an extrinsic or practical end that our courses nurture as well. Each provides philosophically relevant investigations that develop argument analysis and problem solving techniques, as well as a high level written and oral communication skills. As such, students develop critical skills requisite for any field of study, or for any business and professional pursuit. Students of philosophy go into law, education, sales, medicine, journalism as well as artistic fields like play and/or screenwriting, animation, etc. Whatever the field, our courses are relevant. As such the philosophy department fulfills this important practical element of our student's pathways here at ELAC.

Our department furthermore remains relevant to ELAC as a whole. For instance, our department has strong connections to the Honors programs as well as the Women's Studies, Nursing and Environmental Studies programs. For example, many nursing students take our Philosophy 19 (Biomedical ethics) or 20 (ethics) courses. And our feminist philosophy course provides core instruction for any Women's Study student. We also provide an active ASU club—the Philosophy Club—that allows our students to engage in various campus programs and endeavors. And our department has an excellent record of helping students transfer to major universities. Components of our department that are all designed for the purposes of enhancing the educational experience of our students.

To summarize, all areas of campus life are connected to philosophy since philosophy is first and foremost about our lives. We investigate these things because we want to know and improve our lives, and thus I guess our departmental "philosophy"—or our departmental motto so to speak—is that ELAC PHILOSOPHY—BECAUSE DOING PHILOSOPHY IMPROVES LIVES! As such, our courses provide connections to the real world, and the real aspirations, of any student on campus regardless of the major. Again, doing philosophy brings clarity, confirmation and solidity to the "Anywhere" that any of our students may be going—and to that "Anywhere" in the campus motto. Thus, we say "Yes" when asked whether the philosophy department can serve as an integral part of any ELAC student's educational pathway.

The only question remains: How are you going to decide on philosophy? To find out more about that decision, please browse our website, and review our program. If you have any questions, please contact me or any of our department representatives, or simply take one of our classes.

Thank you.

Tim Snead
Associate Professor and Chair,
ELAC Philosophy Department