Alex Sager, an assistant professor in the philosophy department, is currently teaching a new course titled “Philosophy of Work and Leisure.” “We spend most of our lives either at work or engaged in leisurely pursuits, and it’s sort of a philosophical inquiry into what that means,” Sager said of the class.
Alex Sager, an assistant professor in the philosophy department, is currently teaching a new course titled “Philosophy of Work and Leisure.”
“We spend most of our lives either at work or engaged in leisurely pursuits, and it’s sort of a philosophical inquiry into what that means,” Sager said of the class.
One of the questions the class looks into is that of value. How should we understand work and leisure, ethically and politically? How do we want to reform work places and policies?
Since this is the first time the class is being offered, it’s still in its formative stages. Sager said that, so far, it’s going well.
“We’re having good discussions; we looked at humor in life a couple classes ago, and we’ve looked at democracy, and then sexual harassment policies in the workplace last class,” he said. “It’s just a really fun course to offer.”
The class is taught as a lecture but is open to a lot of class discussion. Sager said he tries to introduce larger controversial issues to get students involved. He then tries to ground the conversations with philosophical literature so that students challenge their own views.
The course is open to anyone interested in the subject matter. Sager said he even has an 80-year-old woman auditing the course right now out of personal interest, and that she is running a discussion group with some of her friends on topics covered in class.
“It’s a pleasure for anybody to take the class when they’re not obligated to do so,” Sager said.
The course is offered as a University Studies class in the Knowledge, Values and Rationality junior cluster, which combined the Morality and the Knowledge and Rationality and Understanding clusters this year.
Sager said the course has been developing for a while. A few years ago there was an open position at a university in Montreal for a philosophy of leisure class. Sager said he didn’t know much about the topic but he took the job, immediately researched it and Googled various syllabi.
“I thought it was a really important and fundamental topic,” Sager said. When he came to Portland State, Sager proposed the idea to his department, and they told him to write up a course proposal. He added the element of “work” to the course and it was approved.
“We don’t spend enough time thinking critically about what we do and why we do it, and its value and its impact on ourselves, and our development and other people,” Sager said.