Religious Studies Program

The Cal Poly Philosophy Department houses a Religious Studies program with a wide variety of courses in GE and a Religious Studies minor.

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Between the Species

Between the Species online journal logoAn online philosophy journal about the relationship between humans and animals.
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Ethics Group

Cal Poly's Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group focuses on the implications and impact of emerging sciences and technologies.
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Student Essay Contest Rules

2024 Rules

  1. The Philosophy department offers $750 in prize money for this year's annual student essay contest. The winner will be awarded a prize of $500, and the runner-up will be awarded $250. These prizes are available to undergraduates at Cal Poly in any major enrolled in a minimum of 6 units in Spring 2024, or who have completed their graduation requirements during the 2023-2024 academic year. 
  2. Essays may be on any philosophical topic and typically originate as term papers in philosophy courses offered by the department. Essays need not be identical with the draft submitted for course credit; indeed, it is expected that faculty will advise student authors on how to improve their manuscripts for submission to the contest.
  3. Essays should be between 7 and 20 typed pages in length (between 2,100 and 6,000 words), and double-spaced with normal margins, printed in a standard font (e.g., Times New Roman 12 point, etc.). In addition, essays must observe proper citation conventions (e.g., MLA Stylesheet, APA, Chicago Manual of Style, etc.). We recognize that AI content generation tools (AICGs), such as ChatGPT and AI writers that use Large Language Models (LLMs), are currently altering the writing process. The Philosophy Department Essay contest aims to encourage original philosophical thinking and reward clear and persuasive writing that gives voice to such thinking. Student authors who incorporate output from an AICG tool are required to describe how such a tool was used in an appendix to their paper. All authors are expected to follow the standard scholarly practice of including citations for words written by, or paraphrased from, others (including AIGC tools). Plagiarism will not be tolerated and will result in a report to the offending student's college dean.
  4. Each student may submit only one essay to the contest. The essay and a separate title page must be submitted as an email attachment (either Microsoft Word .doc or PDF) to the Philosophy department's ASC by email to Essays must be submitted to the Philosophy Department by 11:59pm on Friday, May 10, 2024. Late emails will not be accepted.
  5. Essays must be submitted formatted for blind review with a separate title page consisting of the following information: the words "2024 Cal Poly Philosophy Essay Contest," the student's name and e-mail address, and the full title of the paper. The student's name must not appear anywhere else in the separate essay manuscript document. The first page of of the essay manuscript must begin with the title of the essay. The Essay Contest Committee Chair will assign anonymous labels to each essay received and also on the separate title page with the student's name; title pages with students' names and labels will be separated from the essays they identify and filed together.
  6. Essays, without their identifying title pages, will be distributed by the Essay Contest Committee Chair to full-time Philosophy department faculty members acting as Essay Contest Referees. In extraordinary circumstances, the Essay Contest Committee reserves the right not to award a prize or, in the event of a tie, to split the award between two or more essays.
  7. The prize winners will be notified via e-mail by the Essay Contest Committee Chair. The prize winners will honored at the Philosophy Department Advisory Board Reception TBD. Prize money will be disbursed the Financial Aid office. The Philosophy department's ASC will help the winners with the necessary paperwork for the disbursement of the prize money. 
  8. A copy of the winning essays will be archived, and the author and title of winning papers will be listed on the Philosophy department Website Essay Contest page, while the other essays will not be retained.
  9. The authors of top submissions to the Essay Contest will be invited to present their work at the Spring Symposium on Saturday, June 1, 2024. For details, see


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