An Understanding in Wisdom

Pursue timeless questions of truth, knowledge, life’s meaning, reality and more majoring or minoring in Philosophy. Through small class sizes and individualized attention, you’ll connect with a dynamic group of faculty and have the opportunity to engage in independent study or Honors level work. You’ll develop sharp analytical skills and a broad perspective that gives you the ability to seriously engage these big questions and prepare for a successful career and a fulfilling life.

Student Spotlight Constructive Communication

Matt Nusom '23

Matt Nusom '23
Philosophy and Environmental Studies Double Major, Entrepreneurial Studies Minor

“The Philosophy Department has equipped me with the tools I need to create constructive arguments. The program invites students to critically think in order to allow them to look at complex problems from various perspectives. The Philosophy Department was an influential reason for me joining the HWS Debate team which has opened doors of opportunity in terms of cultivating my communication skills. HWS is preparing me for my future by giving me the skills I need to defend my stance on difficult topics.”


and Research

Philosophy students looking to engage more in their work can study and complete Honors and research projects in their chosen topic with the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Past examples of Honors projects include:

  • Adelaide Jagerson Fowle ’19: Illness, Experience and Trust: Epistemic Injustice in the Healthcare System
    Karen Frost-Arnold, Adviser
  • Charlotte W. Wells ’18: The Aesthetics and Art of Wine
    Carol Oberbrunner, Adviser

Experiential Education Connecting Knowledge and Practice

experiental learning

Become a member of our world-class debate team or attend thought-provoking lectures hosted by the Fisher Center for the Study of Gender and Justice.

At Hobart and William Smith, learning goes beyond textbooks and classrooms. You’ll gain high-impact practical experience that deepens learning and opens doors.

Global Education

No Borders: Global Education

Study internet ethics in the Netherlands or the morality of refugee crises in South Korea.

Wherever you go, our nationally-ranked global education program will allow you to apply classroom knowledge, develop cultural understanding and build global connections that expand your personal capacity and sense of purpose.

Global Education

Belonging, Diversity and Equity

The Philosophy Department offers courses that focus on feminist philosophy, the philosophical study of race and racism, theories of social justice and environmental ethics. Recent honors work includes using non-Western thinkers to address classic Western philosophical questions. Many Philosophy courses at HWS integrate non-western philosophical perspectives and courses are integrated into numerous interdisciplinary programs including Africana studies, women’s studies, social justice studies, law & society, environmental studies, public policy and others.

Gain an understanding of the discipline and learn to apply a philosophical lens in all areas of life.

  • PHIL 154 Contemporary Issues: Environmental Ethics

    Explore the ethical and philosophical issues that arise when we consider the relation between humans and the natural environment.

  • PHIL 345 Power, Privilege, & Knowledge

    Discover the historical beginnings of social epistemology in the work of Marx, Foucault and Goldman.

  • PHIL 350 Theories of Reality

    Focus on questions such as: What is real? Is the material world the only reality? Are properties, like being round, or being rational, as real as things?

  • PHIL 236 Philosophy of Law

    Study the relationship and questions between law and philosophy.

  • PHIL 310 Cooperation, Competition and Justice

    Examine different ideas in utilitarianism and social contract theory from political, economic and philosophical backgrounds.

  • PHIL 151 Contemporary Issues: Crime & Punishment

    Explore the relationship between moral responsibility and criminal responsibility.

  • PHIL 156 Biomedical Ethics

    Examine ethical issues that arise in the practice of medicine, in the delivery of health care, and in biomedical research.

  • PHIL 152 Contemporary Issues: Philosophy and Feminism

    Learn the ways in which philosophical concepts and methodologies have influenced contemporary thinking about gender and the ways in which feminist viewpoints have challenged many traditional philosophical ideas.

Alum Impact Unlocking Potential

Stephen Ponticello ’21
J.D. Candidate at Cornell Law School

Stephen found his interest in law during his junior year at HWS. With the support of the HWS Community, he was successful in applying to Cornell Law School. “HWS has unlocked the chance for me to attend Cornell and graduating from Cornell Law will in turn unlock countless opportunities throughout my life.”

Businesses that employ our graduates

  • Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC
  • City of Geneva
  • Columbia County Attorney’s Office
  • Criterion Ventures
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Dickinson College
  • Education First
  • Fidelity Investments
  • Foley Hoag LLP
  • Fox Run Vineyards
  • IBM
  • ICAP Securities, LLC
  • National Cancer Institute
  • Nyingma Institute/Tibetan Aid Project
  • United States Marine Corps

Universities where our graduates are studying

  • American University—Washington College of Law
  • Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Cornell Law School
  • Royal School of Library and Information Science
  • University of Houston
  • University of San Francisco