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Active Students (as of August 2021)

Undergrad majors: 270
Undergrad minors: 345
Undergrad certificates: 7
Graduate certificates: 38

2020-21 Student Credit Hours: 31,011

During this challenging year, the dedicated and diverse faculty of the UCF Department of Philosophy continued to provide excellent undergraduate programs in philosophy, humanities and cultural studies, religion and cultural studies and graduate certificates in cognitive sciences and theoretical and applied ethics. The Department of Philosophy faculty developed several new courses that were offered for the first time this year or will be offered for the first time in the upcoming academic year. Luis Favela developed both a graduate and undergraduate course on neuroethics — an interdisciplinary area concerned with moral issues associated with the mind sciences — that is not only new to UCF, but the first neuroethics course to be offered in the state of Florida. Shelley Park developed a new humanities course, Race and Technology, which explores the role of race in the production, consumption and representation of technology. Karina Cespedes and Stacey DiLiberto developed a new course on Latinx Cultural Expressions that allows students of Hispanic and Latinx descent to see themselves reflected in the curriculum and provides an additional opportunity for all students to learn about diverse cultures. Lanlan Kuang developed a new course on East Asian Folklore and Popular Culture that explores the way of living in the geographical and/or conceptual area generally known as “East Asia” within the folkloric and popular culture discourses.

Two of our faculty received prestigious National Science Foundation grants. Stephen Fiore was awarded an NSF grant to study how faculty from many disciplines work together in an effort to better prepare future researchers for the teamwork needed to solve some of the world’s most complicated challenges. As Fiore explains, “The goal of the project is to understand how team members implicitly and explicitly learn as they collaborate on convergence science.” Jonathan Beever is serving as the lead investigator of a newly awarded NSF grant to study ethics in STEM Fields. “The power of the National Science Foundation-funded study is that it focuses on institutional transformation, will be conducted at UCF and involves hundreds of students pursuing STEM fields,” Beever explains.

The dedicated and diverse faculty of the UCF Department of Philosophy continued to provide excellent undergraduate programs.

Faculty in the Department of Philosophy remained active in research in diverse areas and collectively published over twenty peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, as well as several new books. Michael Muhammad Knight published two new books: Muhammad’s Body: Baraka Networks and the Prophetic Assemblage (University of North Carolina Press) and Metaphysical Africa: Truth and Blackness in the Ansaru Allah Community (Pennsylvania State University Press). According to one reviewer, Muhammad’s Body provides “a stimulating academic analysis of writings about the way Muhammad’s body supposedly blessed others during his lifetime and after his death [and] offers fresh insights into Muslim masculinity, esotericism, and power.” Of Metaphysical Africa, another reviewer writes that this work offers “a wonderful fusion of journalistic zeal and scholarly rigor, each chapter of this book lends itself to an intriguing, insightful representation of a profoundly dynamic Black religious worldview coming into its own.” Jonathan Beever edited the new book Philosophy, Film, and the Dark Side of Interdependence (Lexington Books), which one reviewer says provides “a timely and relevant exploration of the potentially unsettling condition of interdependence, demonstrating the value of filmic narratives in helping to shape and form the human condition.” Cyrus Zargar edited a special double issue of the Journal of Islamic Ethics on “Virtue and Manliness in Islamic Ethics.” Additionally, Department of Philosophy faculty gave close to 20 referred virtual conference presentations and 40 invited virtual talks.

The Department of Philosophy once again sponsored the UCF Ethics Bowl teams, which competed in the Southeast Regional Ethics Bowl and the Mid-Atlantic Ethics Bowl in November 2020. UCF has competed in the Southeast Regional Ethics Bowl since 2004, and our team won the competition for the first time this year, earning us a bid to the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl in February 2021. Our students presented detailed and compelling ethical reasoning in responses to questions that covered many of today’s pressing issues, such as the following: When, if ever, is it ethical to destroy property in response to racial injustice? Is it ethical to make mask policies that differentiate based on race? Is it ever fair for states to require that property owners allow people to avoid paying rent? Should Harry Potter fans stop their consumption of the series and associated artworks due to J.K. Rowling’s sex essentialism?

Several of our excellent faculty and staff were honored with a variety of UCF awards and some were newly promoted, as seen elsewhere in this year’s Spotlight.

— Michael Strawser, department chair