Alderman Stacks

Visions of the Good

Every individual and every society has at least implicit conceptions of the good that inform attitudes, beliefs, habits and social practices. What do we value in human life? What kinds of lives are good lives? How do we define human flourishing? In a diverse and interdependent world, these various conceptions of the good are often competing and, at times, incommensurable, and there can be enormous personal and political stakes involved in choosing particular conceptions or visions of the good. The aim of this forum is to introduce you to the variety of visions of the good, from ancient religious and philosophical traditions around the world to modern conceptions such as virtue ethics, utilitarianism, hedonism, and visions of the good that inform various religious, political and social movements. The forum is designed to help you develop the theoretical understanding, communication skills and reflective practices that you need to begin analyzing a variety of texts, modes of expression and social practices. Over the next two years, you will also begin developing your vision of the good. This vision will not only influence your capstone project at the end of your second year, it will guide the choices and decisions you make in the years to come.



Mark Hadley

I have been a professor of religious studies for over two decades and have taught a wide variety of courses in social ethics, comparative religions, and American religious thought. In my teaching and research, I am drawn to large questions about how metaphysical commitments, whether religious or secular, intersect with constructs of subjectivity, and lead to particular moral frameworks and outcomes. My more recent teaching and research has focused upon the American philosophical and religious context of these questions and has included an examination of diverse figures such as David Walker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James, Jane Addams, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am excited to be co-teaching “Visions of the Good” with my colleague in Philosophy, Erin Eaker where we will explore a wide variety of conceptions of the Good across cultures and timespans.  My hope is that students will come away from the course being able to appreciate the diversity of such conceptions and be able to engage in asking meaningful questions about the beauty, scope, and limits of them.    

I am also an Association Dean in the College and have enjoyed working with U.Va. students over the past decade to meet their academic advising needs.  U.Va. students come from a wonderfully diverse set of backgrounds, but all are bright, inquisitive, and responsible.  I am looking forward to teaching in the Forum program where I can combine my love of teaching with my love of advising. 

Erin Eaker

As a Philosophy professor I am excited to co-lead this Forum along with my Religious Studies colleague, Mark Hadley.  While both Philosophy and Religious Studies have become very specialized academic disciplines, at their heart is an interest in the "deep questions" of life.  My own interest in philosophy grew out of questions I had as an undergraduate about the respective foundations of religious and scientific belief.  I continued to explore this interest in belief as I earned my PhD in philosophy. As a philosophy professor I have particularly enjoyed teaching classes on the philosophical issues raised by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Few theories have so challenged our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world as Darwin’s.  Any vision of what it means to lead a good human life must start from an understanding of what it means to be human.

I look forwarding to exploring diverse visions of the good with students in the Forum. We’ll look for insights from classical sources from ancient China, India, Greece and Rome; from religious traditions around the world; and from modern political thinkers, artists and novelists.  I can think of no better time in life to explore and articulate one's own vision of the good than as a young person starting at the University.  My hope for my students is that this class will help them to plot a deliberate and thoughtful path through their education as they discover a personal vocation and take meaningful steps toward pursuing it.

Navigating the  Forum

In the first semester (Fall 2019), you will enroll in FORU 1500: Visions of the Good. Team-taught by Mark Hadley and Erin Eaker, the course will cover a wide array of competing conceptions of the human good.

Semesters two, three, and four will allow you to take directed electives from the five categories listed below.

In the fourth and final semester (Spring 2021) you will enroll in FORU 2500: Capstone Seminar, where we will return to the themes of the introductory course to analyze some particular account of the human good or some social, political, economic or scientific issue that demands a particular conception of the good.


Core Required Courses (6 Credits)

FORU 1500: Introduction to Visions of the Good (Fall ’19)
FORU 2500: Capstone Seminar (Spring ’21)
Electives (24 Credits)

Category 1. Variety and Visions of the good (at least 6 credits from two departments)

ENMC Nietzsche and Modem Literature
GETR 3400 German Intellectual History from Leibniz to Hegel
GETR 3410 Nietzsche and Modem Literature
GETR 3420 German Intellectual History from Nietzsche to the Present
GETR 3470 Literature of the Holocaust
HIAF 2001 Early African History
HIEU 2002 Modern Jewish History
HIEU 2101 Jewish history I: The Ancient and Medieval Experience
HIEU 3215 Dante’s Italy
HIEU 3221 The Culture of the Renaissance
HIEU 3231 Reformation Europe
HIEU 3321The Scientific Revolution, 1450-1700
HIEU 3322 Science in the Modern Age: 1789-1950
HIEU 3331 Intellectual History of Early Modem Europe
HIEU 3782 Origins of Modem Thought, 1580-1943
HIEU 3792 Intellectual History of Modem Europe
HIEU 3802 Origins of Contemporary Thought
HIEU 3812 Marx
HILA 2002 Modern Latin America
HIME 2002 The Making of the Modern Middle East
HIME 3191 Christianity and Islam
PHIL 2775 Chinese and Greek Philosophy
PHIL 3180 Nietzche
PHIL 3800 Feminist Philosophy
RELA 2850 Afro-Creole Religions in the Americas
RELB 3655 Buddhism in America
RELC 1210 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
RELC 1220 New Testament and Early Christianity
RELC 2050 The Rise of Christianity
RELC 2360 Elements of Christian Thought
RELC 3030 Jesus and the Gospels
RELC 3043 Themes in Eastern Orthodoxy
RELC 3115 Evangelicalism
RELC 3181 Medieval Christianity
RELC 3447History of Christian Ethics
RELC 3625 Christ
RELC/RELJ 3090 Israelite Prophecy
RELC/RELJ 3665 Gender and Sex in the Bible
RELG 2160 Religion in America: 1865-present
RELG 2245 Global Christianity
RELG 2660 Spiritual Not Religious: Spirituality in America
RELH 2090 Hinduism
RELI 2070 Classical Islam
RELI 2080 Islam in the Modern Age
RELI 3110 Muhammad and the Qur’an
RELI 3120 Sufism
RELJ 2030 Introduction to Judaism 
RELJ 3170 Modern Jewish Thought
RUTR 2740 Tolstoy in Translation
WGS 2100 Intro to Gender and Sexuality Studies
WGS 3800 Queer Theory

Category 2. Cross-Cultural Visions of the Good (at least 3 credits)

AAS 1020 Intro to African and African-American Studies
AAS 2740 People and Culture of Africa
AAS/RELA 3000 Women and Religion in Africa
ANTH 1010 Introduction to Anthropology
ANTH 1050 Anthropology of Globalization
ANTH 2120 The Concept of Culture
ANTH 2250 Nationalism, Racism, and Multiculturalism
ANTH 2280 Medical Anthropology
ANTH 2325 Anthropology of God
ANTH 2365 Art and Anthropology
ANTH 2375 Disaster
ANTH 2400 Language and Culture
ANTH 2420 Language and Gender
ANTH 2621 Culture, Gender, Violence
ANTH 3630 Chinese Family and Religion
EAST 1010 East Asian Canons and Cultures
RELA 2750 African Religions
RELA 2850 Afro-Creole Religions in the Americas RELB 2054 Tibetan Buddhism Introduction
RELA 3000 -Women and Religion in Africa
RELB 2100 Buddhism
RELB 2450 Zen
RELB 2715 Introduction to Chinese Religions
RELB 2770 Daoism
RELB 3000 Buddhist Mysticism and Modernity
RELB 3495 Early Buddhism in South Asia
RELI 2070 Classical Islam
RELI 2080 Islam in the Modern Age
RELI 3110 Muhammad and the Qur’an
RELI 3120 Sufism

Category 3. Analytical Reflection on the Good (at least 6 credits from two different departments)

AMST 3200 African American Political Thought
ANTH 2120 The Concept of Culture
ANTH 3290 Biopolitics and the Contemporary Condition
PHIL 1710 Human Nature
PHIL 1730 Introduction to Moral and Political Philosophy
PHIL 1740 Issues of Life and Death
PHIL 1750 The Meaning of Life
PHIL 2020 Know Thyself
PHIL 2120 History of Philosophy: Modern
PHIL 2640 Rational Choice and Happiness
PHIL 2650 Free Will and Responsibility
PHIL 2660 Philosophy of Religion
PHIL 2670 -God
PHIL 2690 Justice, Law, and Morality
PHIL 2720 Bioethics: A Philosophical Perspective
PHIL 2750 Democracy
PHIL 2760 Classics of Political Philosophy
PHIL 2770 Political Philosophy
PHIL 2775 Chinese & Greek Philosophy
PHIL 2780 Ancient Political Thought
PHIL 3010 Darwin and Philosophy
PHIL 3110 Plato
PHIL 3120 Aristotle
PHIL 3130 Hellenistic Philosophy
PHIL 3140 History of Medieval Philosophy
PLPT 1010 Introduction to Political Theory
PLPT 3010 Ancient and Medieval Political Theory
PLPT 3020 Modern Political Thought
PLPT 3030 Contemporary Political Thought
PLPT 3050 Survey of American Political Theory
PLPT 3200 African-American Political Thought
PLPT 3500 -Special Topics in Political Theory: Liberal Theory and its Critics NOTE: Spring 2019 Only
PLPT 3999 Philosophical Perspectives on Liberty
PPL 2010 Morality, Law and the State
RELG 1010 Intro to Western Religious Traditions
RELG 1400 The Art and Science of Human Flourishing
RELG 2210 Religion, Ethics, and the Environment
RELG 2300 Religious Ethics and Moral Problems
RELG 2380 Faith and Doubt in the Modem Age
RELG 2630 Business, Ethics and Society
RELG 2650 Theology, Ethics, and Medicine
RELG 3605  Religion, Violence and Strategy: How to Stop Killing in the Name of God

Category 4. Science of the Good (at least 6 credits from two different departments)

Take 6 credits from two different science departments. Choose from the Departments of Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, and Physics.

Category 5. Society, Politics, and Economics of the Good (at least 3 credits)

AAS 1020 Intro to African American Studies II
AAS 2224 Black Femininities and Masculinities in the US Media
AAS 2559 Reckoning with Slavery (spring 2020)
AAS 2559 The Souls of Black Folk (spring 2020)
AAS 2740 Peoples and Cultures of Africa
ANTH 2190 Desire and World Economics
ANTH 2240 Progress
ANTH 3220 Economic Anthropology
ANTH 3340 Ecology and Society: An Introduction to the New Ecological Anthropology
ANTH 3580 Science and Culture
ETP 2020 Global Sustainability
EVSC 2030 Politics, Science and Values
HIST 2201 Technology in World History
MDST 2000 Introduction to Media Studies
PLAP 1010 Intro to American Politics
PLAP 2250 American Political Traditions
PLIR 3300 Ethics and Human Rights in World Politics
PSYC 2150 Intro to Cognitive Science
PSYC 2600 Introduction to Social Psychology
PSYC 2700 Introduction to Child Psychology
SOC 2052 Sociology of the Family
SOC 2320 Gender and Society
SOC 2442 Systems of Inequality
SOC 2498 Prozac Culture
SOC 2900 Economics and Society
WGS 2100 Intro to Gender and Sexuality Studies
WGS 2600 Human Sexualities
WGS 2898 Sexual Violence Prevention on Campus: Theory and Practice
WGS 4200 Sex and Gender go to the Movies