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Active Students (as of April 2022)

Undergrad majors: 250
Undergrad minors: 344
Undergrad certificates: 16
Graduate certificates: 31

2021-22 Student Credit Hours: 29,701

Our interdisciplinary department continues to provide a broad range of important and engaging degree programs in philosophy, humanities and cultural studies, and religion and cultural studies, along with graduate certificates in cognitive sciences and theoretical and applied ethics, and an undergraduate certificate in interfaith dialogue. Three new exciting undergraduate courses were developed by our faculty. Ann Gleig proposed REL 3448 “Sex and the Sacred Religion, Gender, Sexuality,” a course in which students will learn to extend both religious and secular theories of gender and sexuality through examining the ways religion both polices and produces sexual practices and identities, and through analyzing the spiritual dimensions of desire. Christian Ravela proposed HUM 3403 Asian American Studies, a course that introduces students to the history, theories, debates, and concerns of Asian American studies by tracing the formation and re-formation of Asian America across the late 19th to the early 21st century. Jeanine Viau proposed HUM 4397 Form and Fashion, a course in which students will learn to dress and undress the intersections between identity, beauty, and cultural values.

Steve Fiore, a cognitive sciences professor in our department and with the School of Modeling, Simulation, and Training will lead a new three-year, $990,000 grant project that will study ways to improve cognition in future space travels. According to Fiore, “this research is going to be relevant to any team, not simply to teams in space.” Lanlan Kuang, associate professor in humanities & cultural studies, received a “Greater Good: Humanities in Academia Grant” that allowed her to host a two-day workshop on Understanding Folk and Cultural Traditions in Our Time in February 2022. According to Kuang, “it is critical for us to [re]discover our cultural roots and traditions as powerful factors that shape our understanding of the humanities.” Luciana Garbayo, assistant professor of philosophy and medical education, joined a group of panelists in March 2022 to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and explore the ethical and historical contexts of past epidemics in the US. As Garbayo explains, “ethics is about engaging authentically in constructive conversations on what we value, and how we should recognize each other in our community.”

Two new books were published by our faculty this academic year. Michael Strawser published Spinoza and the Philosophy of Love (Lexington Books, 2021), which according to one reviewer “offers an engaging reading of Spinoza as a systematic philosopher who makes love the heart of his system.” Jeanine Viau co-edited Silhouettes of the Soul: Meditations on Fashion, Religion, and Subjectivity (Bloomsbury, 2022), which according to one reviewer provides “an exciting and refreshing take on the relationship between religion and fashion through an exploration of ‘deep dress’.”

[The] department … provide[d] a broad range of important and engaging degree programs in philosophy, humanities and cultural studies, and religion and cultural studies … [as well as] engaging … research … [and] events.

The department continued to sponsor our UCF Ethics Bowl team, who went 2-1 in the Southeast Regional Ethics Bowl in November 2021. We also co-sponsored, with the UCF Center for Ethics, the Ethically Speaking Series – six engaging events on contemporary moral issues. The presentations, given by subject experts from around the country, are now available to watch on YouTube and include topics like technology and ethics, the role of emotions in facing climate change, and the ethics of artificial intelligence and health care. An attendee of one of the presentations commented in a survey about the series: “One of the most incredible, view-altering presentations I have ever attended. Made me rethink a lot of issues.”

Several of our excellent faculty and staff were honored with a variety of UCF awards and recognitions, and one was newly promoted. Congratulations to all!

— Michael Strawser, department chair