Philosophy professor Ray Rennard continually has a dedicated following of students whom he inspires through "thought experiments"-- hypothetical and sometimes strange scenarios that help elicit intuitions about abstract and complex issues. His students are also given the opportunity to enrich their minds through the pursuit of questions about the nature of truth, language, and science, and to explore new ways of thinking through meaningful and animated discussions.
Since receiving his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Rennard has continued to work on issues in the philosophy of mind and language. In recent years, he has studied the ways we think and talk about the mental states of others when we predict and explain their behavior. This work often finds its way into his courses. For example, his Philosophy of Mind course focuses on our natural capacity to understand others, and his Theory of Knowledge and Metaphysics courses address the nature of the self and self-knowledge. He has presented his work at meetings of the American Philosophical Association and to special interdisciplinary conferences in the cognitive sciences.
Courtney Lehmann, Ph.D.
Director, Pacific Humanities Scholars Program (On leave for the Spring 2017 semester)
Professor, English Department / Film Studies
From her involvement as the director of the Humanities Center to her role as a faculty advisor for Calliope-- the University's award-winning student literary magazine-- Dr. Lehmann uses her spirit and passion to motivate students to new levels of thinking. Having received her Ph.D. in English at Indiana University and taught at Pacific since 1998, she understands the importance of scholarship in the humanities and of stretching one's mind to new horizons.
An aficionado of soccer and Shakespeare, Dr. Lehmann draws on her past experience as a member of four NCAA Division One National Championship teams at North Carolina to bring enthusiasm, energy, and spunk to students in her Shakespeare classes, and to bring life to the characters, conflicts, and ideas that arise in the reading they explore:
"Freedom of interpretation is what I value most in the classroom... I firmly believe that there's no such thing as a wrong answer when engaging in literary exploration, so I am always encouraging students to take interpretive risks and venture outside of their personal 'comfort zones.'"
Dr. Lehmann has focused her own literary analysis on film adaptations of Shakespeare's works, and she recently had her fifth book on the topic published. She is frequently invited to present at Shakespeare conferences across the U.S. and abroad.
Based on her personal investment in social justice, Dr. Lehmann founded a charity to aid women and children in post-earthquake Haiti.