Philosophy Music Videos


Can you get your students to sing about philosophy? Sara Bernstein, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, can. With a little incentive, her students at Notre Dame (and before that, at Duke) have belted out some surprisingly sophisticated philosophical covers of popular songs.

Here’s the extra-credit assignment from her “Reality: The Big Questions” course:

bernstein-ec-song-assignment

What a fun idea.

A couple of Bernstein’s students gave us permission to share their videos here. The first is from students at Notre Dame:

 

And these are Duke students (skip to the 1:05 mark).

 

Do you make use of some unconventional assignments or teaching techniques in your philosophy courses? Email me at [email protected] and maybe we’ll do a post about them.

 

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Pete Mandik
4 years ago

A classic in this genre, and much beloved by students in my Philosophy of Space and Time course, is The Tense View of Time and You. Links here to parts 1 & 2:

https://youtu.be/Soa2UtVlsis

https://youtu.be/Vzq7HwRMEn4Report

Victor Kumar
4 years ago

I give my students the opportunity to do a creative project instead of one of their essay assignments (or to make up for a bad essay grade). One student in my moral psychology course last winter/spring wrote and performed a rap song about moral nativism and the challenge from learning theory:

https://soundcloud.com/user-904042948/moral-competenceReport

Alan White
Alan White
4 years ago

No videos, but if I may offer Professor Bernstein a resource of inspiration—or poor example–here are about 3 dozen philosophical parodies I’ve done since the 80s:

http://philosophysongs.org/awhite/phisong.htm

I’ve used them in my classes over the years–“Gadfly” and “Supererogationisticextraobligation” probably the most–but of course I have to say inspiring students to produce videos is an excellent idea!Report

Eddy Nahmias
4 years ago

In a senior seminar, I had the students do creative projects, which ranged in quality (unsurprisingly), but there were some cool songs and films.
In my intro class, I have spent one of the ‘dead’ classes in final weeks having them write songs (like Sara’s exercise) and then I play the best ones for them on guitar while they sing. I also write my own philosophical songs for the class (as well as some of my others).
Finally, in intro I use a trial format to finish up topics, with students as lawyers and witnesses, and I think it works really well (some info on my website under Teaching).
There’s a trial of a (future) robot who kills his slave-master creator (mind-body, consciousness, free will), a trial of God for the problem of evil, and a trail of the wealthy American (for not giving away enough to reduce suffering–Singer-stuff), which used to have as the defendant none other than Donald Trump.Report