Philosophy Department

Philosophy is the study of the big questions in life, such as the nature of reality, what we owe each other, and why we are here. At UH Hilo, all philosophy students are exposed to Asian, European, and Indigenous philosophical traditions. We offer classes in every major area of philosophy, but we have particular strengths in environmental philosophy, cross-cultural philosophy, and social justice. Our classes emphasize dialogue and building critical thinking skills in a community of mutual respect.


Training in Philosophy will enable a student to appreciate the points of view of others. Philosophy students gain skills in understanding arguments, including complex arguments, and in expressing their own opinions in clear and accurate ways. Evidence of superior reasoning skills can be seen from the fact that Philosophy majors have among the highest overall scores of any major on entry exams for graduate schools, even for specialty areas such as law school that have no direct relation to the subject matter of Philosophy.

Field Trips

While we try to make our classrooms as lively as possible, there are some truths that require experience to appreciate. Below are photographs of Celia Bardwell-Jones’s Philosophy of Nature class trip to Lake Waiau and Tim Freeman’s Environmental Ethics class trip to Volcanoes National Park. You can see photos of more excursions on the philosophy club’s Facebook page.

Sixteen students stand in circle on foggy mountain listening to professorDr. Bardwell-Jones's Philosophy of Nature class visits Maunakea

Seven students and professor stand in front of Kīlauea volcano craterDr. Freeman's Environmental Ethics class hikes the Kīlauea volcanic crater