Zoning in on the real world

Associate professor Kevin Bolinger teaches an honors course called "Philosophy in the Twilight Zone."

A person can find a plethora of classes to take at Indiana State University. One unique class offered is Philosophy in The Twilight Zone, an honors course taught by associate professor Kevin Bolinger.

This unique class incorporates the 1959 television show, “The Twilight Zone,” into the curriculum, and has been a popular course among students for the past six years.

The class starts by watching a 22-minute long episode. After the episode, students discuss its theme how it relates to what they are studying that day.

“Each class is aimed to explore the full range of human condition,” Bolinger said. “We do a week on oncology, another on phenomenology, but we also talk about ethics quite a bit.”

Bolinger was the one to present the idea for such a course to the university, but he had some help from his brother, a professor in California.

“My brother’s the philosopher,” Bolinger said. “My concentration is history and we both love the series and saw it was not just science fiction, but a way to explore the human condition.”

It took about a year to gather up the information needed in order to teach the class.

“Together we combed through the episodes, developed themes and touched on the nature of philosophical concepts, and used the episodes as ways to demonstrate these concepts,” Bolinger said.

Currently, the course is only for honors students, but Bolinger has had people encouraging him to make it widely available.

“Linda Maule (dean of University College) has talked to me about opening it up to more students,” Bolinger said. “The problem this faces is it takes a level of understanding the readings, and I think maybe half the student population can get it, but it is easier for the students who have already come a bit more prepared to college to tackle a course like this.”

Bolinger has had a variety of students throughout the years, but the impact he has had on them remains the same.

“I gained the ability to look at life from a different perspective and have learned about some of the meta-physical paradoxes that exist,” Marcus Voges, a freshman psychology major, said. “The class really altered my opinions.”

“This class was such a breath of fresh air,” said Justin Wolz, a freshman exercise science major. “Bolinger really challenged us to either strengthen the beliefs we currently held, or to open our minds to new ways of thinking, and he accomplished this through the nature in which he asked his questions.”

The class is also structured different than most 100-level classes at any college.

“For once I was in a class that was structured on improving on an intellectual and moral basis as opposed to learning information to recite on a test,” Wolz said.

Bolinger’s goal for the class is to have students think deeply on issues they would otherwise not think about.

“I wanted them to gain self-examination, and what it means to be a human being, but I ultimately want them to leave better human beings than they walked in,” Bolinger said.