Student Events, Activities and Alumni News

“Why the Locked-in Patient Case is Hard”

Jason Marsh


Talk by Jason Marsh

February 18, 2014

at 7:00 p.m.

In Hollad Hall 310


Jason Marsh, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at St. Olaf College, gave a fascinating talk (sponsored by Phi Sigma Tau) on the recent neurological discoveries regarding the brain’s operation during locked-in syndrome, and discussed how ethics on the treatment of locked-in patients may have to change based on these discoveries. The well-attended lecture was followed by an engaging question-and-answer session as students processed the new ideas about identity as related to mental activity and the value of life. See the pictures below, and be on the watch for upcoming Phi Sigma Tau events this semester!





“An Analysis of the Moral Law and Moral Pathology in the Work of Martin Luther King, Jr.”


Talk by Charles Watson , III

on Tuesday, February 25

at 3:45 p.m.

in Viking Theater

Charles Watson, III (M.A., Ph.D Stanford University) is a leading philosopher on race, culture, and personal identity. He is the author of The Existential Imperative (Verlag Press, Germany) and taught ‘Race and Social Justice’ during interim 2014 at St.Olaf College.

All are welcome to attend.

Sponsored by Phi SIgma Tau (Philosophy Honor Society) and the Kirkegaard Library

St. Olaf Philosophy Students Celebrate Philosophy Day!

Ethics and The Good Life: Student Op-ed piece published in Star Tribune
Gambling’s sure bet is that people lose by Thore Dosdall ’12

Jonathan Wells subs for Taliaferro Environmental EthicsApril 28, 2011

Class began with a rousing welcom chant; “Visualize the substrata. Photographer-geologist!” The banging of various object accompanied the made-up tune. After gifts were presented a class photo was taken. Mr. Wells then began to discuss his work New York-City Block and Minneapolis-St. Paul with students. Students were curious about how humans have impacted the geology shown in his photography as well as the creation of the photographs themselves.


Philosophy Department takes part in UNESCO World Philosophy Day

WorldPhilosophyDayOn Thursday, November 18th, 2010 St. Olaf students and faculty gathered together in the Philosophy Commons in Holland Hall to celebrate United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s World Philosophy Day. The celebration, one of many held around the world, was part of UNESCO’s goal of fostering a time in which individuals could engage in a meaningful dialogue rooted in their personal convictions. In addition to an excellent conversation, pizza and pop — provided by the department — made the gathering irresistible.

“It was great to see so many students across the disciplinary board show up to celebrate philosophy in their daily lives. The critical thinking skills that philosophy requires remains an important, though often overlooked, foundational component of a quality liberal arts education. Our celebration today shows that these skills are alive and well at St. Olaf College,” said Eric Erfanian ’12.

Side by side with professors, strangers, and friends, students discussed the merits of a philosophical education, issues of equality and involvement in the college, and ways in which the “examined life” can sustain and benefit oneself for years to come. Given the success of this year’s celebration, the department looks forward to continuing the tradition in the future.

Alumnus Attains Master’s Degree after 15-Year Hiatus

Nate Sawyer ’90 recently completed a Master’s Degree in philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. where he is full-time communications director. His final oral included a defense of the following papers: 1) The Story of Inequality: A Pragmatic Call for Urgency-Infused Theory; 2) Dewey’s Philosophy of Education: A Hooded Defense; and 3) Kierkegaard’s Debt to Hume. His committee members included John Wallace and Sarah Holtman (Co-advisors), Doug Lewis (Chair), Karen Seashore (Supporting Program, Educational Policy and Administration).

Philosophy Alumnus Serves in Middle Asia
Larry Tweed ’97 is serving in the Peace Corps at the Center for American Studies in Osh, Kyrgystan. He maintains a Web blog filled with interesting photos, information, and news about the center’s work.

Former Philosophy Major Wins Oxford
Prize for Dissertation

Sam Evans ’02 was awarded the Dan Gouller Prize for the best dissertation in the Management Faculty at Oxford University, where he completed his MSc in Management Research. His dissertation, entitled “The governance of biotechnology at the World Trade Organization: a cultural theory framework” is published on-line at

Keep in Touch!

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Or, send photos, announcements, and news to:

Sue Newland
Department of Philosophy
St. Olaf College
Northfield, MN 55057