“I believe I’m of best use to my students when I encourage, provoke, and deepen their own understanding, and push them to take intellectual risks.”
Philosophy professor Jack Furlong readily admits that his discipline is sometimes considered "an elite delicacy to be indulged in only when one has declared a 'real' major."
But that attitude fails to take into account what philosophers are really good for, he says. "Philosophy doesn't solve problems, but it coaxes one to examine why we think the problems we claim to solve are problems in the first place, how we can develop fresher and deeper questions about the problems, and how problems connect to each other in unexpected ways.
"To be quaint and dull, philosophy makes you think critically," Furlong continues. "To be less quaint and dull, it makes you think continually and to always connect."
Furlong's classes are never quaint or dull. His teaching expertise is legendary at Transylvania and among outside organizations that have recognized him with major honors including the Danforth Associates Teaching Award, the 2000 Acorn Award as Kentucky's Teacher of the Year, and the 2002 Kentucky Professor of the Year from the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Furlong thinks deeply about the philosophy of contemporary political, social, and cultural problems. This has led him to team-teach interdisciplinary classes such as bioethics, cognitive science, and moral psychology. "I believe that faculty should explore beyond their disciplines," he says. "Our program naturally fits the liberal arts mission."