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Faculty Advice Series: Thomas Metcalf, PhD

Thomas Metcalf, PhD
Assistant Professor

“At a school like Spring Hill, the people around you genuinely care about your success.”

PhD, University of Colorado at Boulder
MA, University of Colorado at Boulder
BA, University of Washington  

Courses taught:

  • Bioethics
  • Business Ethics
  • The Election
  • Ethics
  • Philosophy of Human Nature
  • Philosophy, Politics, & Economics
  • Science and Religion

Q. In what ways are you involved in your field outside the classroom (projects, research, etc.)?
TM: I sometimes give presentations to the student body about areas of my research, especially applied ethics and social and political philosophy. I also lead philosophy-club meetings, contribute to “1000-Word Philosophy,” an online textbook and I sometimes write for “Arc Digital,” an online magazine.

Q. Have you earned any awards or special recognitions that you’d like to share?
TM: I've been elected vice-president of the Alabama Philosophical Society, one of the oldest philosophical societies in the country.

Q. What’s your favorite part of your job?
TM: I love interacting with students and helping broaden their minds and strengthen their critical-thinking skills.

Q. What’s the most memorable thing about your class(es)?
TM. Philosophy is a subject that everyone can excel in. I particularly remember when a student comes up with an original new idea or objection that to my knowledge, professional philosophers haven't even thought of yet. In that way, philosophy is empowering.


Q. Why should prospective students choose Spring Hill?
TM. I would describe three main reasons.

First, Spring Hill has by far the best community of any school I've ever been to as a student or as a professor. It's the perfect size for there to be a variety of organizations, courses and activities available, but small enough that you can know your professors and your colleagues and build lasting friendships and business relationships.

Second, instructors here are very devoted to teaching, far more so than at any other school (in my experience.)The school itself also values teaching more than almost any other. You can know that your professors here have the right priority for your education.

And last, a Spring Hill education is broad enough (including philosophy for every student) to ensure that you will have the right skills to succeed in an ever-changing, unpredictable future marketplace. We don't know which jobs will be replaced by robots or which willchange to become unrecognizable to students today. Therefore, the best strategy is to give yourself an education that develops the skills that will be valuable in any kind of job: skills of critical thinking, reading comprehension, writing and speaking and encountering and evaluating diverse ideas. That's why we give students a Jesuit education; I sincerely believe something like it is necessary to excel in the workplace of the future.


Q. Do you have any advice for college freshmen?
TM. Notice your own habits: develop the good ones and resist the bad ones.

Socializing is important, and taking breaks is important, but it's easy to tell yourself that you can put something off, and yet find out that you have no time at the end of the semester.

Recognize your own best skills and try to focus your education and the way you complete your assignments to best use those skills.

Go to class unless you're very sick. Take notes by hand. Don't assume that just because the instructor seems to understand the topic, you do.

Read the syllabus carefully. Put all due dates into your calendar apps. Set automatic reminders one week, one day and one hour before important meetings and exams.

Seek out advice from everyone: fellow students, instructors, staff, coaches, parents and anyone who can give you advice. We all want to help. You don't have to do this alone. At a school like Spring Hill, the people around you genuinely care about your success.

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