For 50 minutes, three days a week, students in Philosophy 110G discuss ethical questions about the nature of love and sex.
The class, called Love and Sex, seems to pop out to students as they look for courses to take. “Students are pleased with how true to the title the class is, that we’re really looking at those issues and discussing them in detail,” Douglass Reed, the professor of the class said.
This grand challenge course has students considering a number of questions, including but not limited to: Is there such a thing as true love? Is casual sex wrong? What is consent? How do laws and social customs impact the way we’re encouraged to think about love and sex?
The questions are nearly endless and that’s where the importance for this class lies for Reed, who began teaching the class last semester. “It’s important for anyone, but especially young people, college students, to think about these issues and discuss them with each other in an open way,” Reed said.
URI junior Gianna Chaves, took the class last semester and was surprised by just how much she enjoyed the conversations that took place during the course. “The class would end and I’d want it to keep going,” she said.
Fifth-year senior Edith Fidi, who is currently enrolled in the course, said she would absolutely recommend it to her peers. “I think it’s a relevant course for college students,” Fidi explained.
Some of the most relevant discussions today revolve around consent, especially for students on a college campus. This is especially true with increased talk of sexual assault and harassment in the news that spiked the #MeToo movement.
“We would fall short of our duties as a University if we didn’t have places for students to reflect and discuss about these issues,” Reed said, whose course offers an entire unit on sex and consent.
Reed does not just want his students to think philosophically about love and sex, but learn what exactly philosophy is and what its practical value is in their lives.
“Philosophy is thinking about reasons and sharing reasons with other people and scrutinizing what counts as a good reason to do something and that’s what we’re always doing as people, but we’ve got to do it in a clear-minded and precise way,” Reed explained.
Senior philosophy major Krissy Antone knew this practical value when she took the course last semester. However, she had never been in a class like PHL 110G, which is open to students of all majors, and in
Having a diverse group of students also helps make the class what it is. The class meets outcome C3: Develop and exercise diversion and inclusivity responsibilities.
“Most of the topics that we discuss in the class, I think, touch on the diversity and inclusion outcome and how to think responsibly about these issues and be considerate and open to these other perspectives,” Reed said.
However, some of the most interesting topics lie in the course’s last unit, sexuality and gender. During this unit, Reed said they will talk explicitly about the idea of social construction in regards to sexuality and gender which he feels plays a big part in the C3 outcome.
“It was really cool to see so many people from so many people from so many social groups come together be able to kind of have the same kind of line of understanding,” Antone said.
Reed hopes that after taking PHL 110G, students will continue the discussions and investigations with themselves and others, using what they learned in his classroom.
“I hope that they’ll see that they’re always doing philosophy and they’ll see how practically valuable philosophy is for thinking carefully about important issues,” Reed said.