Philosophy is the attempt to make rational sense of all things. As such, it tries to discover and explain the ultimate origin, purpose, and meaning of all things, including, and especially, human existence. Philosophers throughout the ages have considered the following sorts of questions especially worthy of serious consideration: What does it mean to be human? What is truly valuable and worthwhile? How should I treat myself and others? What is the nature of reality? Are there such things as objective truth, beauty, and goodness? What can I know about God’s nature and existence? Is there a rational basis for my religious beliefs?

For this reason philosophy is, in fact, one of life’s most practical pursuits, because it helps you in the search for ultimate meaning in life, a pursuit that you cannot avoid if you are truly interested in living well and finding genuine happiness, both personally and in your chosen profession, vocation, or career.  

At Loras, the Philosophy major offers students:
  • A strong values component, with emphasis on refining students’ ethical decision-making skills
  • Classes designed to complement virtually every other major offered at Loras
  • An excellent preparation for those interested in attending law school
  • A major that is flexible enough to adapt to individual student interests

undergraduate bulletin CORE CURRICULUM

Student Experiences

Many philosophy majors at Loras are committed to service to churches in the Dubuque Archdiocese.  Because these students are interested in the ways their faith lives connect with their intellectual interests, they pursue compelling areas of research.

  • During the 2010-2011 academic year, a Philosophy major, Brandon Schetgen, presented papers at two undergraduate philosophy conferences: Truman State University and Creighton University.
  • Three students were members of the Provost’s Top 20 students in the 2009-2010. The philosophy program typically has at least one student represented among this select group each year.

Alumni Successes

Loras Philosophy majors have gone on to enjoy successful careers in various areas. A representative sampling includes the following. Click here to read reflections by philosophy alumni.
  • Numerous individuals are now serving as ordained priests in the Archdiocese of Dubuque and other neighboring dioceses (Rockford, Madison), as well as becoming professed members of male and female religious communities (Dominicans, Salesians of Don Bosco, Franciscan Friars of the Atonement).
  • Melissa (Zamora) McLaughlin (’06)
    Vice President, Groundswell Communications, Washington, D.C.
  • Jonathon Hanten ('02)
    Web Developer, Archdiocese of Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Felicia Kruse, Ph.D. (‘83)
    Visiting Professor of Philosophy
    Southern Illinois University Carbondale
  • Peter Zachar, Ph.D. (’86)
    Chair, Department of Psychology
    Auburn University Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama
  • Rick Harris (’87)
    Attorney - Finely Law Firm, Des Moines, Iowa


Roman T. Ciapalo, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy
109 Smyth Hall 
(563) 588-7434


Janine Marie Idziak, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy
Director, Bioethics Resource Center
113 Smyth Hall
(563) 588-7749

Rev. William Joensen, Ph.D.
Dean of Spiritual Life
Associate Professor of Philosophy
119 Keane Hall
(563) 588-7463 


Christoffer S. Lammer-Heindel, Ph.D
Instructor of Philosophy (2012-2013)
103 Smyth Hall
(563) 588-7733



Carol M. Oberfoell 
Academic Secretary, Division of Philosophy, Religion, and Theology
Secretary, Kucera Center for Catholic Studies
103 Smyth Hall
(563) 588-7733



Classical Philosophy Lecture Series

Loras College established the “Classical Philosophy Lecture Series” in 1990 in order to provide the Loras community and the general public access to nationally recognized philosophers who are involved in the exploration of issues of current relevance and perennial significance. The lecture series is made possible through the generosity of the Edith Long Fund. The lectures are free and open to the public. Click here for more information.
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