Program Overview

New for 2020! Let’s explore movies and the mysteries of life! In Philosophy through Film we’ll look at the “big picture” while looking closely at the moving picture. In this class you will consider the big questions about being in the world: What’s it all about? What do I really know for sure? Am I the same person I was when I was five years old? What makes something bad or good? What does it mean to make a choice? What’s the use of beauty? One way to approach these timeless philosophical puzzles is through the art of film. Superheroines and sorcerers, cops and robbers, good guys and bad guys—all of these characters and scenarios represent our human beliefs, fears, and wonders, and they can therefore help us make sense of life’s deeper mysteries. Along the way we will also ask interesting questions about the art of film itself, thinking about the role of art in our lives and how it relates to our being who we are.

  Syracuse University Summer College program was the highlight of  my summer. This program introduced me to a lot of new people, and opened my eyes to the multiple opportunities I have in front of me! -Kadijah A., Summer College student, 2019.

Program Objectives

  • Critical thinking
  • Critical reading and interpretation
  • Creative storytelling
  • We’ll also develop understanding in these areas:
    • The big questions in the history of philosophy
    • The basics of epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics
    • Film as an art form

Learn more about Philosophy Through Film:

Program Dates & Details Eligibility Requirements Program Cost Program Requirements Typical Day Faculty Bios

Program Dates & Details

Session Dates

Session III: July 25 – August 7, 2020
Duration: 2-weeks


Credit: Noncredit

Grading System: Pass/Fail

Eligibility Requirements

Students must be a minimum of 15 years of age by the orientation and move-in date. For full Summer College admission requirements, view the Admissions Overview and Eligibility page. 

Apply Now!

Program Cost

Program Costs:

  • Residential: $3,560
  • Commuter: $2,746

*Please visit our Program Costs page for more detailed information. Program rates are subject to change and will be approved by the board of trustees in March.  Discounts and scholarships are also available.

Program Requirements

Required Materials

  • Notebooks will be needed.

Students should budget for the purchase of required course textbooks. There will be an introductory philosophy textbook, such as “What’s it all about?: Philosophy and the meaning of life” by Julian Baggini.

Student Expectations

Students are expected to be curious and willing to ask tough questions! All students will attend all sessions. This is an academically rigorous, college-level program. Students are expected to complete nightly homework assignments and actively participate in group projects. Students are expected to attend all classes every day, arrive on time, and meet all academic obligations. Free time will vary as each program is unique, as is the subsequent workload.

Typical Day

Tentative Schedule

9am: Philosophy seminar: discussing ideas, questions, readings
11am: In-class assignments
12pm: Lunch
1pm: Film screening
3pm Film Chat: analyzing the philosophy in the film, followed by:
Creative workshop: developing characters, stories, and film ideas based on philosophic puzzles and problems

When class is over, and on weekends, students can look forward to various Summer College trips and activities. Check out our Campus Activities page for more information!

Field Trips

There will be two field trips. One will be to a movie theater, one will possibly be a nature hike or museum depending on weather.

Final Academic Obligation

Students are permitted to leave on Friday, August 7 upon the completion of their course at 1:00pm. If students have any questions regarding their final academic obligation, we encourage them to reach out to their instructor. Please refer to the Move-Out page for important information regarding the checkout process.

Faculty Bios

William Osborne

William Osborne teaches courses on philosophy, art, creativity and film at Syracuse University. He has worked in Honors programs at different universities and specializes in interdisciplinary instruction, collaborative learning, and course development. His research areas are in the philosophy of art and creativity. He is also a practicing artist, writer, and musician.