VSU's Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
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The History of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
at Valdosta State University
The Department gives thanks to Michael O. Holt, Philosophy Major, Class of 2004 for his research in the Odum Library Archives that made this page possible.
We also have a page on former majors from our department, and what they are doing now:
Philosophy of Mind class at VSU, 1978. (Ron Barnette in the hat.)

 Ron Barnette 1995
 Ron Barnette's Philosophy of Mind class at VSU in 1995. (Ron Barnette sitting on the floor between students.)

Patrick deSercey in 1971, Bulletin 1970-1971, Elliott McElroy in 1973, Donald Awerkamp in 1974, Jim Hill in 1975, and Mr. Pythagoras in the Bulletin from 1976. Click on the thumbnails for larger pictures.

Click here to see a picture of Mr. Pythagoras (Alan Bernstein, John Robbins, Ron Barnette from a Pinecone Yearbook) https://mypages.valdosta.edu/chjames/Mr_Pythagoras[1].JPG


Bruce Morgan and Ron Barnette at Commencement, 1991

Faculty Members of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies,
Past and Present:
Patrick “Pat” deSercey 1969-1970
Elliott McElroy 1970-1973
Ron Barnette 1972-currently teaching
Ed Marshall  1972-1973
Jim Hill 1973-currently teaching
Don Awerkamp  1973-1976
Roseann Christian 1976-1980
William “Bill” Frierson 1980-2002
Campbell Giddens 1980-1985
Ray Peace 1985-currently teaching
Alan Bernstein 1985-1990
Ari Santas 1990-currently teaching
Linda Bennett Elder 1994-2013
Michael Stoltzfus 1998-2015
Christine James 2002-currently teaching
Richard Amesbury 2003- 2007
Lavonna Lovern 2003-currently teaching
Fred Downing 2006-currently teaching
Mark George 2006-2007
Cristóbal Serrán-Pagán y Fuentes 2007-currently teaching
Keith Johnson 2008-currently teaching
Lily Vuong 2010-2015
Patrick "Al" Harmon 2010-currently teaching
Brett Hackett 2011-currently teaching
Joseph Weaver 2012-currently teaching
Bryan Turley 2015-currently teaching
Classes in Philosophy were offered as early as 1926, including Ethical Theory and History of Philosophy.  Click on the thumbnail below to see the course catalog for that year:
A .pdf document of all Philosophy and Religious Studies course catalog listings between 1971 and 1990 is available by clicking here.
By 1971, the course catalog included a wide range of Philosophy and Religion courses, and there was officially a Department of Philosophy.
Click on the thumbnail below to see the catalog from that year.  
PHIL 200-INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY - Major schools and development of Western philosophy
PHIL 201-LOGIC -Introduction to symbolic logic.
PHIL 306-ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY -Philosophies of Greece and Rome. Prerequisite: PHIL 200
PHIL 307-MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY -The Philosophical development from Rome to the Renaissance. Prerequisite: PHIL 200
PHIL 308-MODERN PHILOSOPHY -The Renaissance to contemporary systems. Prerequisite: PHIL 200
PHIL 310-MODERN MAN’S SEARCH FOR VALUES -The present value crisis and possible solutions
PHIL311- AESTHETICS: THE PHILOSOPHY OF ART -The meaning of art, the nature of style, and the creative process.
PHIL 312- ETHICS: MORAL PHILOSOPHY -Moral problems from the viewpoint of various philosophers and schools of thought
PHIL 320- THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE -Study of the scientific method. Prerequisite: 10 hours of laboratory science or consent of the instructor.
PHIL 321- EXISTENTIALISM - The study of some of the main existentialist thinkers such as Heiddegger, Buber, and Jaspers
PHIL 322- PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY -The characteristics and meaning of being human.
PHIL 330- THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION -The basic problems of religious belief and a critical analysis of proposed solutions to these problems.
PHIL 331- COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS - Study of selected major religions through their literature
PHIL 490 A-B-C-D INDIVIDUAL STUDIES -Restricted to seniors with consent of instructor. Work in a special area under consent of instructor.
PHIL 495- SENIOR SEMINAR -Required of all senior majors. Topic to be chosen by instructor. An extensive paper and class discussion
In 1975, courses were added, including:
PHIL 350- ORIENTAL PHILOSOPHY -An investigation of Eastern philosophical traditions, such as Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism.
In 1976, courses were added, including:
PHIL301/AST 301- COSMOLOGY -A scientific and philosophical study of man’s perception of the universe, including the world views of Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Einstein. Prerequisites: AST 106 and PHIL 200 or consent of the instructor.
PHIL 326- PHILOSOPHY OF LOGIC -An advanced study in logic, including extended logical systems (standard and nonstandard), problems in foundations of logic, in decision theory, and description theory. Prerequisite: PHIL 202.
PHIL 331-RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD -A comparative study of the origins and central teachings of major religions: Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Judaism, and Islam.
PHIL 332- PAUL: HIS LIFE WRITINGS AND CONTINUING IMPACT -A survey of the life of Paul and the development of his theology in response to the problems and heresies of his day, with a consideration of Paul’s impact upon twentieth century theology.
In 1977, courses were added, including:
PHIL 201- BASIC CONCEPTS IN RELIGION -A treatment of issues that arise in connection with considerations of religious belief: e.g., the existence and nature of God, religious experience, the problem of evil, religious language, and revelation.
PHIL 302(502) - BUSINESS AND SOCIETY -A study of the social role of business in society An analysis of ethical perspectives and values in business decision-making, with special emphasis on consumerism, demands of racial and sexual minorities, the crises in environment, government regulation, multinational firms, intergenerational conflict, science and technology, world hunger, and advertising.
In 1981, courses were revised to include:
PHIL 310- MEDICAL ETHICS -A study of the moral issues in medicine. A philosophical examination of the positions of experts on various problems facing doctors, nurses, and experimental scientists, e.g., abortion, sterilization, genetic control, allocation of scarce resources, death and dying, human experimentation, behavior control, patient relationships, and health delivery. 
PHIL 333- INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE -A general academic introduction to the history, thought, and literature of the Bible, and to some of the major critical problems that have arisen within the area of Biblical studies.
PHIL 334- CHRISTIAN ETHICS -A consideration of social, political, and economic problems, as well as problems related to personal values and conduct, in the light of the Western religious tradition.
In 1982, courses were added, including:
PHIL 337- CHRISTIAN THOUGHT - An introduction to major theological themes of the western religious tradition as presented in the writings of selected Christian thinkers.
In 1991, a variety of current ethical issues courses were added:
PHIL 310- ETHICS AND HEALTH CARE -A study of ethical issues in health care delivery, with special emphasis on abortion, defective newborns, euthanasia, behavior control, paternalism, truth telling, confidentiality, medical experimentation and informed consent, new methods of reproduction, allocating scarce medical resources, and the right to health care.
PHIL 312- ETHICAL THEORY -An introduction to ethical theory, with special emphasis on survey of classical theories (Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Epicurus, Aquinas, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Bentham, Mill, Nietzsche, Dewey, Ross, Hare, Ayer); study of normative ethical theories (nihilism, skepticism, divine command theory, cultural relativism, fascism, egoism, altruism, with special attention given to utilitarianism and Kantianism).
PHIL 313-SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY - An introduction o social and political theory and practice with special emphasis on survey of classical theories ( including Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Bentham, Mill, Hegel, and Marx); study of practical policy issues (e.g. civil disobedience, paternalism, freedom of expression, church and state etc.).
PHIL 314- ETHICS AND LAW - A study of ethical issues in law and society, with special emphasis on the nature of law, elements in legal reasoning, Constitutional adjudication, theories of punishment, the death penalty, causation and responsibility, criminal procedure and rights of defendants, rights and property, the limits of liberties, and civil disobedience.
PHIL 315-ETHICS IN BUSINESS -A study of ethical issues in business and society, with special emphasis on corporate responsibility, regulation of business, protecting consumers, workers, the environment, privacy and autonomy, whistleblowing, trade secrets, discrimination and employment practices, advertising and disclosing information, and obligations in accounting finance and investment.
PHIL 316-ETHICS AND THE NEWS MEDIA -A study of ethical issues in print and broadcast journalism and mass communication with special emphasis on pursuit of news (objectivity, conflicts of interest, making or reporting news, investigative journalism) advertising, profits and journalism, media lobbying, terrorism and the media, the reporter and personal ethics, freedom of the press.
PHIL 317- ETHICS IN SPORTS -A study and analysis of selected ethical issues in sport, such as contest and competition, sport as a social experience, money and sport, bending rules and cheating, excessive violence, racial/sexual discrimination, exploitation of athletes, and the use of drugs.
PHIL 318- ETHICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT -A study of ethical issues and the enviornment with specific emphasis on defining an environmental ethic, land use, cost-benefit analysis, evolutionary and ecological connections, humanism versus ecocentrism, and individual versus collective choice.
PHIL 319-ETHICS AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES -A study of ethical issues in the social sciences, with special emphasis on gathering information, testing, behavior control, counseling, punishment, penal institutions and the death penalty, racial and sexual discrimination, and psychological and social determinism.
PHIL 321- ETHICS AND TECHNOLOGY -A study of ethical issues in technology and social change , with special emphasis on defining technology, developing a philosophy of technology, examining theories of human nature, automation, computers, nuclear energy, and Third World development
PHIL 422 ETHICS AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION -A study of ethical issues in public administration, with special emphasis on developing an awareness of ethical issues and problems within public sector organizations, building analytical skills in ethical decision making, cultivating an attitude of moral obligation and personal responsibility in pursuing a career in the public service, stimulating the moral imagination, and recognizing ethical implications in the discretionary power of interest.
1995 was the first year courses were listed under both the PHI and REL abbreviations, although courses in Religious Studies had been offered since 1971:
REL 200- INTRODUCTION TO RELIGION -Introduction to Religion is an interdisciplinary course that examines Texts and Sacred Stories, Concepts of the Holy and Sacred Communities among several Religious Traditions.
In 1996, these REL courses were revised:
PHI/REL 339- CONCEPTS OF GOD -An examination of a range of differing interpretations of the concept “God” undertaken primarily from the standpoint of philosophical inquiry regarding a predominately religious theme.
PHI/REL 341- PHILOSOPHY OF HUMAN NATURE - An introduction to some major concepts of human nature that have influenced Western thought from the time of early Judaism, Plato, and early Christianity. This course includes contributions of later political theorists, scientists, social scientists, philosophers, and theologians.
...and these REL courses were added:
REL 333- NEW TESTAMENT -A general academic introduction to the history, thought, and literature of the New Testament, and to some of the major critical problems that have arisen within the area of New Testament studies.
REL 334- OLD TESTAMENT/ HEBREW BIBLE - Presents the principal characters, events, social structures, and theological perspectives reflected in the texts of the Hebrew Bible. Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible introduces methods and interpretive frameworks shaped by current biblical scholarship.
REL 337- RELIGIOUS THOUGHT -An examination of major theological/religious themes derived from both the Western and Eastern traditions. Information regarding the focus for a given quarter will be available through the religion faculty of the Department of Philosophy.
REL 350- HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY -History of Christianity introduces significant figures in Christianity and traces dominant themes and movements that have influenced Christian institutions and traditions over the centuries.
REL 360- WOMEN AND RELIGION - Introduction to the historical, theological, spiritual, and liturgical dimensions of women’s experience within religious traditions. Research opportunities increase awareness of the implications of gender as an interpretive category in religion.
REL 390- TOPICS IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES -Forum for dialogue and discourse on a variety of timely issues in Religious Studies. This course reflects the interests and concerns of faculty and students by addressing particular subjects that relate to the nexus of religion and human experience.

Ray Peace, Christine James, Richard Amesbury, Ari Santas, Jim Hitchcock (Graduated 2005), Michael Stoltzfus, Linda Bennett Elder, Jim Hill.






Ron Barnette and Richard Saeger in 1976

Ron Barnette on Main

Ron Barnette

William “Bill” Frierson

Ari Santas


The two pictures above are from Ari Santas' Environmental Ethics classes: Spring 2002 and the early 1990's. 

West Hall 104:

Pictures of Ari Santas when he began teaching at VSU.

On the chalkboard, Ari Santas writes “Importance of Theory”, “Where Abstraction Runs Afoul”, “Concrete” and “Metaphysics.” Interesting that Metaphysics is under what we assume is Concrete!________________________

More students in West 104.


Philosophy Major graduate Joe Newton

Ashley Hall, current home of the Department. Click on the picture to learn more about the building's history!


Dr. Christine A. James
Department of Philosophy
Valdosta State University
Valdosta, GA 31698-0050
229-259-7609, Fax 229-259-5011
Philosophy Department home: http://teach.valdosta.edu/phi  
Philosophy Department Office Assistant: 229-333-5949