Fall 2022 – Undergraduate and Graduate Philosophy Courses

Below are descriptions of the courses – both undergraduate and graduate – that the Department of Philosophy will offer in the Fall 2022 semester. Please don't hesitate to email the instructor if you would like further information!

To see the complete list of courses ever offered by the Department, please visit http://catalog.missouri.edu/courseofferings/phil/

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PHIL 1000: The Big Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy
  • Lecture 01 – MW – 11-11:50am –  Dr. Claire Horsik
    • Discussion 01A – F – 11am12:50 pm TBD
    • Discussion 01B – F – noon–12:50 pmTBD
    • Discussion 01C – F – 2–2:50 pmTBD
  • Lecture 02 – MWF – 9–9:50am – TBD
  • Lecture 03 – MWF – 10–10:50am – TBD
  • Lecture 04 – TuTh – 9:30–10:45am - TBD
  • Lecture 05 – TuTh – 11am–12:15pm - TBD
  • Lecture 06 – TuTh – 9:30–10:45am - TBD
  • Lecture 07– TuTh – 12:30pm–1:45pm - TBD

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

The central goal of the course is to learn critical thinking skills that are used by living philosophers and that will be useful in all your courses and throughout your life. We will learn these skills while considering philosophical questions from different areas of philosophy, so that we meet a second goal, learning that philosophy isn’t just about reading the work of famous thinkers in the past; it is a living discipline with active researchers who consider a broad range of issues. For example, these questions include: Do you know that the objects and events you experience are real, or is Elon Musk right in thinking we are probably living in a simulated reality? What should you believe, particularly when the source of knowledge is what other people tell you? Does the internet raise new problems about knowledge, because of its social nature? What does the moral principle “do the greatest good for the greatest number” omit about morality, and how is this relevant to programming and purchasing self-driving cars? Do you understand what you think and feel better than you understand what other people think and feel? What does it mean to say that a group of people is oppressed?  

Although many of these problems have their roots in the history of philosophy, and we will learn about the work of some notable historical figures, especially the 17th century French philosopher Rene Descartes, most of the readings for the course were written by living philosophers specifically for undergraduates. 

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PHIL 1000H: The Big Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy - Honors

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

This class is about the Declaration of Independence. This is a very interesting document, and many people have written about it, both within academia and without. Even if you disagree about its importance (and many do), it certainly has been influential in American history. Ours will be a philosophical approach: we’ll be interested in what the text says, and whether there are any good arguments for or against the claims it seems to make. Consider this most famous sentence of the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The texts we will be reading are all, to some extent, about ideas that can be found here.  

René Descartes’s Meditations talk about what we can be properly said to know, and the relation between that, science, and God.  John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government was read by Jefferson, and many ideas in it are echoed in the Declaration (and many are not). A useful contrast will be found in Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, where we see a radically different understanding of the relation between the state and its citizens. John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty talks about the notion of liberty. Consider this class an introduction to both philosophy and the Declaration of Independence. 

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PHIL 1100: The Difference Between Right and Wrong: An Introduction to Ethics
  • Lecture 01 – MW – 10-10:50am – Dr. Philip Robbins
    • Discussion 01A – Th – 10–10:50am – TBD
    • Discussion 01B – Th – 11–11:50am – TBD
    • Discussion 01C – Th – noon–12:50pm – TBD
  • Lecture 04 – TuTh – 9–10:45am – TBD
  • Lecture 05 – TuTh – 12:30–1:45pm – TBD
  • Lecture 06 (online self-paced) – Dr. Troy Hall

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

The field of ethics investigates questions about where our moral judgments come from? Are they merely social conventions or absolute truths? What are our moral duties and what is the best way to know what they are? Ethics also examines controversial issues such as abortion, animal rights, capital punishment, and environmental issues. In this class, we lay out major ethical theories to discuss some of these issues. The course requires your participation to engage with the course material.

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PHIL 1100H: The Difference Between Right and Wrong: An Introduction to Ethics - Honors

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisites: Honors eligibility required

We tend to think that it’s wrong to lie, steal, and murder, but right to tell the truth, be generous, and kind. But why do we think these things? What reasons do we have? What do we even mean by “right” and “wrong”? In this course, we will engage in philosophical discussions about right and wrong, using texts from throughout history, from ancient Greece to contemporary America. Students will learn to articulate positions of different philosophers; to understand arguments and texts; evaluate, defend, and criticize arguments of their own and of others; and think critically about philosophical issues.

 

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PHIL 1150: Introductory Bioethics
  • Lecture 01 – MWF – 9–9:50am – TBD
  • Lecture 02 – MWF – 11–11:50am – TBD
  • Lecture 03 – TuTh – 9:30–10:45am – TBD
  • Lecture 04 – TuTh – 12:30–1:30pm – TBD
  • Lecture 05 – TuTh – 9:30–10:45am – TBD
  • Lecture 06 – TuTh – 12:30–1:45pm – TBD
  • Lecture 07 – (online self-paced) – TBD
  • Lecture 08 – (online self-paced) – TBD

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

In this course we will explore philosophical approaches to ethical issues concerning medicine and healthcare. We’ll ask questions like whether it is OK to sell one of your kidneys or whether abortion is the same as killing babies. We’ll also consider ethical issues related to clinical research and distribution of scarce medical resources, particularly in the context of pandemics. For instance, would age-based rationing of ventilators during the Covid-19 pandemic be morally justifiable?

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PHIL 1200: How to Think: Logic and Reasoning for Everyday Life
  • Lecture 01 – MWF – noon–12:50pm – Dr. Andre Ariew
  • Lecture 02 – MWF – 9–9:50am – TBD
  • Lecture 03 – MWF – 11-11:50am – TBD
  • Lecture 06 (online self-paced) – Dr. Troy Hall

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

This is an introductory course in critical thinking. In every academic discipline and in every walk of life reasons are given for believing claims to be true. But not all reasons are alike: some are good, some are not so good, some are downright bad. How do we tell the difference between good and bad reasons? The answer is to learn some rules and methods of good reasoning. This is the aim of the course. By mastering rules and methods of good reasoning, students will acquire the ability to sharpen their judgment and decision-making skills for use both in and out of the classroom.

The course is designed to be a foundational course of your college education. That's a bold statement, but it’s true. Everything you learn in college will be implicitly or explicitly based on reasons. Hence, a course that teaches you the rules of reasoning counts as a foundational course. Every citizen should take a course like this. Again, that's a bold statement. But if you cannot reason properly, then your life choices will be poor. In this course, you will acquire the tools of reasoning and learn how to use them for thinking more effectively about the world.

Course Goals: At the end of the semester you should be able to...

1. Analyze the logical structure of an argument.

2. Determine whether an argument is deductively valid (hence truth preserving) or not.

3. Identify the various ways to test hypotheses.

4. Test the probability that a hypothesis is true given some evidence in its favor.

5. Determine the best course of action given information about the likely outcomes associated with each option.

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PHIL 1200H: How to Think: Logic and Reasoning for Everyday Life

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

We will study the nature of arguments, i.e., bits of reasoning. An argument has a job or function: to provide someone with some reason to think that something is the case. A good argument is one that does its job. Arguments are useful not only because they enable us to get other people to think certain things, but also because they enable us to figure out what we ourselves have reason to think. By the end of this course, you should be able to read a passage containing an argument and then both (1) explain precisely how the reasoning in the passage is supposed to work and (2) assess how good a reason to believe the conclusion is provided by the premises. You should also be able to (3) construct good arguments of your own. 

The course aims to improve the ways in which you reason, rather than to fill your heads with more facts. Knowing facts is indispensable for assessing arguments, but this course will not much increase your factual knowledge. 

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PHIL 2350: The Meaning of Life
  • Lecture 01 – MWF – 10–10:50am – TBD
  • Lecture 02 – MWF – 1–1:50pm – TBD

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

(same as WGST 2500). A critical examination of central ideas and themes in feminist philosophical thought. Topics may include: sex, marriage, parenthood, reproduction, body image, pornography, prostitution.

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PHIL 2410: Philosophies of War and Peace
  • Lecture 01 (online) – Sukhvinder Shahi
    • Discussion 01A (online) – Sukhvinder Shahi
  • Lecture 02 (online) – Sukhvinder Shahi
    • Discussion 02A (online) – Sukhvinder Shahi

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

This course addresses moral issues about the recourse to war by the nation and the individual's obligations to participate, and the nature of peace, both social and personal. Special attention is paid to the Vietnam War and the nuclear age.

Note: this course counts toward the Philosophy Department’s Certificate in Ethical Theory and Practice. For more information, go here: https://philosophy.missouri.edu/undergrad/certificate-ethical-theory-and-practice.

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PHIL 2410W: Philosophies of War and Peace – Writing Intensive
  • Lecture 01 (online) – Sukhvinder Shahi
    • Discussion 01A (online) – Sukhvinder Shahi
  • Lecture 02 (online) – Sukhvinder Shahi
    • Discussion 02A (online) – Sukhvinder Shahi

This course addresses moral issues about the recourse to war by the nation and the individual's obligations to participate, and the nature of peace, both social and personal. Special attention is paid to the Vietnam War and the nuclear age. This course is writing intensive.

Note: this course counts toward the Philosophy Department’s Certificate in Ethical Theory and Practice. For more information, go here: https://philosophy.missouri.edu/undergrad/certificate-ethical-theory-and-practice.

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PHIL 2430: Contemporary Moral Issues
  • Lecture 01 – MWF – 9:30–10:45am – TBD
  • Lecture 02 – TuTh – 12:30–1:45pm – TBD

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

Review of the major contemporary ethical theories and their contribution to the resolution of major social issues such as euthanasia, suicide, abortion, capital punishment, violence and war. Emphasis on nature, interests, and rights of persons. Graded on A-F basis only.

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PHIL 2440: Medical Ethics
  • Lecture 01 – MW – 1–1:50pm – Dr. Troy Hall
    • Discussion 01A – F – 9–9:50am – TBD
    • Discussion 01B – F – 10–10:50am – TBD
    • Discussion 01C – F – 11–11:50am – TBD
    • Discussion 01D – F – 9–9:50am – TBD
    • Discussion 01E – F – 11–11:50am – TBD
    • Discussion 01F – F – noon –12:50pm – TBD
    • Discussion 01G – F – 9–9:50am – TBD
    • Discussion 01H – F – 10–10:50am – TBD
    • Discussion 01J  – F – noon –12:50pm – TBD
  • Lecture 02 – MWF– 9–9:50am – TBD
  • Lecture 03 – MWF– 11–11:50am – TBD

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

This extremely popular course considers issues of patient autonomy, consent, healthcare rights, abortion, euthanasia, and animal and human research from an agenda-free perspective. It is also perfect as a first philosophy or ethics course, as fundamental ethical theories are explained before integrating them with medical cases. Many students have reported that taking this course was a positive transformative experience for them at Mizzou.

Taught by College of Arts and Science Green and Purple Chalk teaching awards-winner Dr. Troy Hall.

Note: this course qualifies as a credit towards the new Certificate in Ethical Theory and Practice. For more information, go here: https://philosophy.missouri.edu/undergrad/certificate-ethical-theory-and-practice 

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PHIL 2600: Rational Decisions

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

Rational decisions are more likely than irrational decisions to be successful.  So, learning the characteristics of rational decisions is extremely valuable.  Often, the rationality of a decision depends on the expected reactions of other people.  To handle this, the course treats in depth strategic reasoning in both competitive and cooperative interactions. 

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PHIL 2700: Elementary Logic

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

Do you love solving puzzles like Sudoku? Then this is a great course for you. We will learn how to solve logical puzzles, by learning a formal logical language and formal methods of evaluating arguments. Having logical abilities is great for anyone who needs to reason --- and that is all of us --- and is an especially useful skill if you are interested in law, business, or linguistics. Logic also serves as a fundamental basis for computer science and artificial intelligence.

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PHIL 2900: Environmental Ethics
  • Lecture 01 – TuTh – 11–11:50am – Dr. Troy Hall
    • Discussion 01A – F – 10–10:50am – TBD
    • Discussion 01B – F – 11–11:50am – TBD
    • Discussion 01C – F – 1–1:50pm – TBD

Credit Hours: 3

Recommended Prior Course: PHIL 1100

Course Description:

This popular course counts as a Diversity Intensive Course. Truly a course for everyone, Environmental Ethics explores our relationship to each other and the natural world. A perfect first philosophy course or ethics course, cutting edge contemporary topics such as animal ethics, sustainability, environmental justice and racism, ecofeminism, deep ecology, and eco-terrorism are covered in an agenda-free way.

Taught by College of Arts and Science Green and Purple Chalk teaching awards-winner Dr. Troy Hall. Note: this course qualifies as a credit towards the new Certificate in Ethical Theory and Practice.

For more information, go here: https://philosophy.missouri.edu/undergrad/certificate-ethical-theory-and-practice 

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PHIL 3000W: Ancient Western Philosophy - Writing Intensive

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

This course is a writing intensive introduction to ancient western philosophy, focusing on the most influential philosophical ideas and texts of Ancient Greece and Rome. The aim of the course is for students to gain an understanding of key views and arguments of ancient western philosophy, and to engage critically with them; to understand arguments and texts; evaluate, defend, and criticize arguments of their own and of others; and think critically about philosophical issues.

 

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PHIL 4110/7110: Advanced Logic

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing

Course Description:

(same as LINGST 7110; cross-leveled with PHIL 4110, LINGST 4110). Presents the method of truth trees for sentence and predicate logic. Examines proofs concerning the decidability, soundness, and completeness of formal systems. Emphasizes the theory of formal systems. 

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PHIL 4200: Metaphysics

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing

Course Description:

Metaphysics studies what there is and how things are, most generally speaking. Topics will include the problem of universals, the nature of abstract entities, the problem of individuation, the nature of necessity and possibility, the nature of identity through time of objects, the nature of parts and wholes, the problem of metaphysical indeterminacy, and the realism/anti-realism debate. 

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PHIL 4220: Philosophy of Religion 

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing

Course Description:

Is this course we examine religious beliefs and practices using the tools and methods of philosophy.  We start with some foundational questions.  Are we in a position to think and reason about a reality that is alleged to transcend our ordinary categories of thought and experience?  Should religious doctrines be understood as literal truth claims, or in some other way?  We then explore some philosophical issues that arise in connection with specific religious traditions.   

Some Buddhist thinkers adopt logical systems according to which there are true contradictions.  Is that philosophically defensible?  Is it possible to reconcile the claim that there is a wholly good, all-powerful being with the reality of evil and suffering?  Does it make sense to pray for God to do things if God is always going to do what is best anyway?  Are some conceptions of the afterlife (such as reincarnation, or the doctrines of Heaven and Hell) more philosophically defensible than others?  Finally, we consider issues connected to the rationality of religious belief.  Is there good evidence for religious claims (and does there need to be)?  Can religion be reconciled with science?  Does the phenomenon of religious disagreement make belonging to a specific religious tradition irrational?  We will discuss these and many other questions throughout the semester. 

 

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PHIL 4800: Asian Philosophy

 (same as S_A_ST 4800; cross-leveled with PHIL 7800)

  • Lecture 01 (online self-paced) – Dr. Bina Gupta

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing

Recommended: one course in Philosophy

Course Description:

This course constitutes a historical-critical analysis of selected philosophies of India and China. The primary emphasis will be placed upon the historical development of Asian philosophies within the classical period. It will explore a broad range of philosophical issues discussed in the Vedas and Upanishads, Advaita Vedanta, the Bhagavad Gita, Theravada Buddhism, the Confucian Analects, and the Tao Te Ching.

My approach will be both historical and critical: (1) the attempt will be made to understand each philosophical school in its integrity, to enter into the fundamental doctrines of each school, with an open mind in order to grasp the system as a philosophical whole; (2) each system will be subject to rigorous philosophical criticism, first, of an internal sort, in order to reveal fundamental inconsistencies between the different assumptions of the system, and secondly, of an external sort, which discloses the limitations of a given system when judged by reference to the phases of human experience and knowledge to which it fails to do justice.

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PHIL 4850: Special Readings in Philosophy

Credit Hours: 1-3

Prerequisites: Junior standing

Regular individual meetings with an instructor as part of studying a sequence of readings, comparable in difficulty and number to readings assigned in a regularly-offered 4000-level course. Only by special arrangement with an instructor.

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PHIL 4998: Honors I in Philosophy

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisites: Junior standing

Individual study with a mentor. Work toward a thesis for students aiming at Departmental Honors.

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PHIL 4999: Honors II in Philosophy

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisites: Junior standing

Individual study with a mentor. Work toward a thesis for students aiming at Departmental Honors.

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PHIL 7200: Metaphysics

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing

Course Description:

Metaphysics studies what there is and how things are, most generally speaking. Topics will include the problem of universals, the nature of abstract entities, the problem of individuation, the nature of necessity and possibility, the nature of identity through time of objects, the nature of parts and wholes, the problem of metaphysical indeterminacy, and the realism/anti-realism debate. 

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PHIL 7220: Philosophy of Religion

Credit Hours: 3

Course Description:

Is this course we examine religious beliefs and practices using the tools and methods of philosophy.  We start with some foundational questions.  Are we in a position to think and reason about a reality that is alleged to transcend our ordinary categories of thought and experience?  Should religious doctrines be understood as literal truth claims, or in some other way?  We then explore some philosophical issues that arise in connection with specific religious traditions.   

Some Buddhist thinkers adopt logical systems according to which there are true contradictions.  Is that philosophically defensible?  Is it possible to reconcile the claim that there is a wholly good, all-powerful being with the reality of evil and suffering?  Does it make sense to pray for God to do things if God is always going to do what is best anyway?  Are some conceptions of the afterlife (such as reincarnation, or the doctrines of Heaven and Hell) more philosophically defensible than others?  Finally, we consider issues connected to the rationality of religious belief.  Is there good evidence for religious claims (and does there need to be)?  Can religion be reconciled with science?  Does the phenomenon of religious disagreement make belonging to a specific religious tradition irrational?  We will discuss these and many other questions throughout the semester. 

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PHIL 7850: Special Readings in Philosophy

Credit Hours: 1-99

Individual study with a mentor. Requires departmental consent

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PHIL 8090/9090: Research in Philosophy

Credit Hours: 1-99

Research not leading to thesis. Graded S/U only.

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PHIL 8100: Protoseminar in Philosophy

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisites: graduate Philosophy student

Introduction to graduate level work in philosophy. Required of all students entering the program, in the first year. An intensive workshop focused on skills rather than any particular philosophical content. Prerequisites: restricted to first year graduate students.

 

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PHIL 9510: Decision Theory

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisites: PHIL 4110; graduate Philosophy student

Course Description:

Principles for making rational decisions, including principles of expected utility theory, game theory, and social choice theory. A survey of basic ideas and an introduction to selected research topics. 

 

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PHIL 9901: Seminar on Free Will

Credit Hours: 3

Prerequisites: graduate Philosophy student

We will read two books on the possibility of free will: 

  • A Metaphysics for Freedom by Helen Steward (OUP, 2012).  
  • Why Free Will Is Real, by Christian List (Harvard University Press 2019) 

 

Synopsis of A Metaphysics for Freedom: [The book] outlines the case for the view that agency itself—and not merely the special, distinctively human variety of it—is incompatible with determinism. It argues that determinism is threatened just as surely by the existence of powers which can be unproblematically accorded to many sorts of animals, as by the distinctively human powers of action on which the free will debate has tended to focus. A tendency to approach the question of free will solely through the issue of moral responsibility has obscured the fact that there is a quite different route to incompatibilism available, based on the idea that animal agents above a certain level of complexity possess a range of distinctive ‘two-way’ powers, not found in simpler substances. Determinism, it is contended, is not a doctrine of physics, but of metaphysics; and the idea that it is physics which will tell us whether our world is deterministic or not is argued to presuppose what must not be taken for granted—that is, that physics settles everything else. An outline of a variety of top-down causation which might sustain the idea that an animal itself, rather than merely events and states going on in its parts, may bring something about, is explored. The whole is an argument for a distinctive and resolutely non-dualistic, naturalistically respectable version of libertarianism, rooted in a conception of what biological forms of organization might make possible in the way of freedom. 

 

From Synopsis of Why Free Will Is Real: Unlike those who defend free will by giving up the idea that it requires alternative possibilities to choose from, Christian List retains this idea as central, resisting the tendency to defend free will by watering it down. He concedes that free will and its prerequisites—intentional agency, alternative possibilities, and causal control over our actions—cannot be found among the fundamental physical features of the natural world. But, he argues, that’s not where we should be looking. Free will is a “higher-level” phenomenon found at the level of psychology. It is like other phenomena that emerge from physical processes but are autonomous from them and not best understood in fundamental physical terms—like an ecosystem or the economy. When we discover it in its proper context, acknowledging that free will is real is not just scientifically respectable; it is indispensable for explaining our world. 

 

Contact

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Andrew Melnyk
MelnykA@missouri.edu
416 Strickland Hall
(573) 884-0906

Director of Graduate Studies

Kenneth Boyce
BoyceKA@missouri.edu
430 Strickland Hall
(573) 882-2871