Philosophy Questions Life During Inaugural Lyceum

Published: June 12, 2015 | Author: Thomas Ybarra | Read Time: 2 minutes

Taking a break from the summer heat, six high school students sat in a classroom hearing exciting lectures, participating in debate, and posed large, philosophical questions in Southern Utah University’s philosophy summer camp, Utah Philosophy Lyceum. Classes are out and vacations have started but for these students getting ahead in education while having fun is what they experienced while participating in this unique summer opportunity.

The Grace A. Tanner Center sponsored the Utah Philosophy Lyceum headed by philosophy professor, Kirk Fitzpatrick. The Tanner Center’s sponsorship allowed for the weeklong summer camp to be free for all high school students attending.

Professor Kris Phillips, an assistant professor of philosophy, co-founded and organized this year’s first Philosophy Lyceum after receiving positive feedback for a similar camp he co-founded as a graduate student in Iowa before teaching at SUU.

On the first day of the camp students were posed with the question, “What is philosophy?” and learned the theory behind philosophy.

Participants studied sections of Plato’s Republic, Descartes’s Meditations, and Everyday Examples: An Introduction to Philosophy. Fitzpatrick and Phillips tag-teamed teaching the lessons, monitoring the debates, and leading the discussions.

The weeklong lyceum focused lessons on an introductory of philosophy, morality and ethics, political theory, and the knowledge and power of evidence in debate.

Students were asked to answer and debate the following questions throughout the week: “what is philosophy,” “who is an expert in ethics and morality,” and everyone’s favorite question, “but why?” 

For all students participating it was an exciting, interesting, and easy approach to Plato’s political theory. “Today’s lesson made me realize how philosophy is mainstreamed into many different topics. Today it was political science and theory, it was such a cool and different way to learn about it,” said participating high school senior Noah Strasmann.

Phillips hopes the Utah Philosophy Lyceum gains momentum and plans for next year’s summer camp is already in the works. Phillips’ ambition is to gear students toward a more sympathetic view toward others and to help them realize that it’s okay if they don’t have all the answers. 

“I want to breed open-mindedness, self-reflection, and awareness of personal growth for these students,” says Phillips and believes that these discussions in his Utah Lyceum will open up the opportunity.

Southern Utah University’s Utah Philosophy Lyceum provided high school students a learning opportunity in a fun and expressive manner. As the camp grows, Phillips and Fitzpatrick hope to include current students at SUU to help facilitate and direct the summer camp. 

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