Tammy Nyden, Associate Professor of Philosophy, teaches a class in Steiner Hall


Question everything and think critically.

To study philosophy is to ask the questions that thinking human beings everywhere have asked, in one way or another: Who am I? What can I know? What should I do? What can I hope? Though it does not fall upon any generation to answer these questions once and for all, a generation that refuses to confront them refuses to engage the work of its time. Pluralistic and historically oriented, the philosophy program at Grinnell is dedicated to open inquiry into these big questions and their meaning for today.

A Different Kind of Philosophy Course

Professor Tammy Nyden (center) listens to two students during class

Behind the Scenes of a Specially Designed Course

You probably know from experience that when you have a teacher who’s excited about teaching, the class is energized.

Special topics courses give professors that chance to re-energize.

Now multiply that energy level by 3.

Three professors — from American studies, education, and philosophy — co-taught a special topics course, The School-to-Prison Pipeline (STPP), during the fall 2019 semester.

About a dozen students and instructor listen to another student presenting informally in their classroom

Students Learn Strategies and Tactics for Making a Difference

You care about the world and you want to make a difference.

Can you do that in a class?

The 25 Grinnell students who took The School-to-Prison Pipeline, a special topics course, would say, “Yes, absolutely.”

The 4-credit class examined schools’ discipline practices and policies, their impacts, and the work people are doing to create positive change. Students not only learned about the issue, but also how to contribute to the common good through social action.

Why Major in Philosophy

Jack Marchesi '20

Spot the Gaps and Fill Them In

Philosophy major Jack Marchesi ’20 appreciates how philosophy courses consistently defy his expectations. “I always leave with more questions than I had before the course began.”

Burling Library at night, windows lit

The Intersection of Philosophy and Political Science

Max Fenton ’19, a philosophy and political science double major, was drawn to Grinnell as a good base for graduate school and for its “reputation as a place in which knowledge was acquired for its own sake.”

Department Information

(641) 269-4414

Steiner Hall
1120 Park St
Grinnell, IA 50112
United States

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