Philosophy students pursue their own paths to wisdom by encountering the best that has been thought and said about basic human concerns throughout civilization. They engage some of the major philosophical, religious and moral traditions of the world, and they are encouraged to see the relevance of these ideas and practices so that they engage conceptual, social and religious concerns with greater coherence, perspective and responsibility.

Most importantly, students will see the relevance of these ideas and use the skills developed to respond to new problems and become responsible citizens who can better relate to the diversity of thought, both religious and non-religious, found in the contemporary world.

Philosophy can be characterized as the attempt to make rational sense of things. Ultimately, then, it is the attempt to discover and articulate what is truly meaningful, including what it is, if anything, that makes life itself meaningful.

Latest News

Seale Doss

Seale Doss publishes two new novels with familiar character

Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Seale Doss has two recent novels that are available on The character of Phillip Dee from Doss’ 2018 novel Blood […]

Gary Yerkey in Selma

Gary Yerkey ’66 reflects on how historic march led to Voting Rights Act of 1965

“The first time I made ‘good trouble’”, a reflective piece written by Gary Yerkey ’66 of Washington, D.C., was published today, Aug. 2, in The […]

Steve Rashid ’79 part of interactive online theater experience depicting Roaring ’20s

Steve Rashid ’79 of Evanston, Illinois, and his family were featured in a review/article published March 10 in the Chicago Tribune. Studio 5, a performing […]


Paul Jeffries

Jeffries, Paul

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Chair of Philosophy Department

John Sisko

Sisko, John

Vice President and Dean of Faculty, Professor of Philosophy

Brian Smith

Smith, Brian

Professor of Religion Emeritus


Ripon College faculty and professional staff are dedicated to helping you reach your goals, whatever they may be and however often they may change along the way. It’s part of our value statement to you.

As a student at Ripon, you will be assigned a faculty adviser based on your area(s) of interest. You will meet with your faculty adviser throughout your time as a student to discuss your current aspirations, plan your course schedule and plot a future trajectory. We also work collaboratively with Ripon College Career and Professional Development to help match your interests and skills to concrete goals and construct a plan for professional success offering personalized career counseling, off-campus learning opportunities and an online job board with potential to connect with local, national and international employers. Our collaboration with Student Support Services provides tutoring and additional academic and skill development, as well as tools to help with note-taking, exam preparation, goal-setting and time management. Likewise, Mentors in the Franzen Center provide in-depth, one-on-one or group mentoring for students about class projects and college-level writing, and can share problem-solving strategies to overcome academic obstacles.

Advising at Ripon


Requirements for a major in Philosophy: PHL 320 and REL 442; PHL 591 and 592; one 300-level additional philosophy course; one religion course at the 200 level or above; and three other courses in philosophy for a total of 32 credits.

Requirements for a minor in Philosophy: PHL 320; at least one additional course in philosophy at the 300 level; one religion course, and other philosophy courses for a total of 20 credits.

Career Tracks

An undergraduate degree in philosophy can lead to a career in teaching, law, business, ethics, mediation, government, grant writing and many other fields. Recent graduates have been accepted into graduate-level programs at some of the nation’s most prestigious research universities, including: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Texas A&M University, the University of Minnesota, Marquette University and the University of Oregon.

Job titles of recent graduates include lawyer, grant writer, financial advisor, teacher and professor.

Unique Opportunities

  • The philosophy program culminates in a capstone experience in which students develop their own philosophy and dialogue with others in a public presentation of part of that philosophy.
  • Students participate in regional and national conferences and seminars, where they present on their research ideas.