By Ala Kaymaram
Charles Johnson is a professor of philosophy. This January marks his 20th year at WCC.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: How did you get interested in Philosophy?
A: I started taking philosophy classes as an undergraduate at Oakland University. I discovered that I have a lot of interest and aptitude in it, so I decided to take it as a major with the encouragement of some of my professors.
Q: What area in philosophy did you concentrate on?
A: My focus was primarily on epistemology, which is the study of knowledge as well as ethics. My dissertation was about free will as it relates to our thoughts.
Q: What courses do you teach at WCC?
A: I teach logic and introduction to philosophy. I have also taught philosophy of religion, in addition to comparative religion. I taught medical ethics for several years, but I haven’t taught it recently.
Q: Have you taught at other universities? How do our courses compare to theirs?
A: I have taught at Oakland, Michigan State, Wayne State, Western, and Eastern. I think that our 100 and 200 levels courses line up pretty much the same. We are dealing with the same content. The biggest difference though, which I think students should feel lucky about, is that we have small class sizes here. That means you will get a lot of individual attention in a way that you might not at larger institutions.
Q: How did you decide to start a career at WCC?
A: When I started my graduate work, I was able to start teaching almost immediately, and I realized that I love to teach. As I got near the end of my graduate work at Michigan State, I began searching for part-time teaching positions. I taught at a number of four-year institutions like Oakland University. I also taught for some community colleges like Oakland Community College. I was able to build up a teaching resume, so when this position opened up, I applied for it and I was very fortunate to get it. This has been an incredible place to work.
Q: What is your favorite part of your job as a teacher?
A: It has to be working with the students. I really do enjoy it, even though I have taught these courses for 20 years. No course is ever the same because the students aren’t the same. The kind of insight and questions that they bring, the enthusiasm that they bring, it makes every class a unique experience. That makes me excited every term.