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Philosophy

Philosophy is a practice at Hamilton, where your professors will encourage you to be engaged and to apply your training beyond the classroom. For instance, philosophy majors have developed and taught philosophy mini-classes to their peers and to local high school students.


Caleb Williamson '17 and Todd Franklin, the Sidney Wertimer Professor of Philosophy.

A student discovers philosophy and the research process

In his second semester at Hamilton, Caleb Williamson ’17 took a course with Philosophy Professor Todd Franklin called “The Black Self” and discovered thinkers and writers he’d never studied in high school: Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver and Angela Davis, to name a few.

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On breaks, he started to pick up books about black literature and culture his parents had at home. Williams read some good stuff, jotted down the titles and brought them to his professor to ask if the work was still applicable in the 21st century. That’s a great question, Franklin responded.

“And then he said, ‘Well, good thing you’re here in philosophy because you can try to find the answer to that question,’” says Williamson, who intends to major in philosophy. The upshot: Williamson sought and won a College grant to do summer research that included visits to the Library of Congress and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

Williamson’s work focused on shifts in black identity from 1894 to the present and the importance of education for black identity. He expects the research to become the basis of his senior thesis and, someday, a book. Williamson is considering going to a law school where he can pursue both a law degree and philosophy doctorate.

Cara Chard ’03
Cara Chard ’03

A philosophy grad finds her way to urban farming

When whimsy and opportunity collided, says Cara Chard ’03, she learned to keep bees on a Brooklyn rooftop. It was her introduction to the burgeoning world of urban agriculture. “Opportunities that I hadn't previously known to exist presented themselves, and I took them,” she says, She ran a farm-based learning program in Brooklyn for three years and then became the first employee of City Growers. She’s now executive director at the nonprofit, which provides students with hands-on food and farm education on rooftop farms.

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Chard’s job entails building the vision, programs, and business strategy for the organization that has served more than 10,000 students and added two employees. She says her philosophy major at Hamilton College prepared her well for the unexpected career.

“Philosophy teaches the critical thinking, public speaking, and writing skills necessary to become a leader in any field. The term ‘urban agriculture’ didn't exist in public discourse when I was at Hamilton, and I never could have planned or predicted my career trajectory,” she says, “I followed the things that interested me – philosophy, teaching, beekeeping – and they led me to an awesome job. I never boxed myself in.”

Early on after Hamilton, Chard worked as a paralegal and discovered she didn’t want to become a lawyer She then earned a master’s degree in education from New York University and taught high school English in the Bronx.