Kari (Ebbert) O'Driscoll

Major: Philosophy and Biology
Graduated from Pacific: 1993
Current Occupation: Program evaluation and quality management for five statewide Children's Long-term Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment facilities
Contact Information: odriscollk@aol.com or 206-298-9641

My first philosophy class at Pacific was ethics and I think the thing that hooked me was that I was encouraged to provide my opinions and thoughts in routine class discussions.

Throughout all of the future classes I took in this department, that never changed, regardless of the subject. I felt as though I was not only learning actively, but was contributing to the experience for others as well.

Because of my strong science background, I was very interested in the History of Science class which provided a backdrop for many of the things I was learning about in microbiology and human development classes. I can't really say that there was any one area that I liked more than any other, though.

Among others, I took a comparative religion class, a medical ethics class, and a class on Neitszche which I really enjoyed because it enabled me to look in depth at one particular, influential philosopher. The medical ethics and logic classes I took at Pacific probably map to my current job the most, in that they taught me to look critically and clearly at processes and take them apart to find the meaning. They also enable me to place a frame around the work that is done every day with patients under some basic assumptions, questioning those in a continuous quest for best practices. However, each of the classes I took also taught me to play "devil's advocate" and stretch to examine other perspectives that may apply.

I have recently been engaged in a process of helping to design some outcome studies for these children's psychiatric programs which involved getting a group of individuals together to explore the purpose, impact, and importance of the work being done in these facilities every day, with a mission of finding a way to measure these things substantively and communicate this to an audience of consumers, parents, insurers, auditors, etc. This process was very reminiscent of being in a philosophy class at Pacific.

I truly enjoyed the interaction between professors and students in these classes and the culture that ensued from this, helping everyone to be comfortable sharing their thoughts and beliefs, and questioning whether there ever is one truly correct answer. The professors were also very open to designing classes that fit one student's (or a few students') particular educational track in order to enhance their individual learning experience. The openness and consistent encouragement to actively engage in the learning process by staff in this department were important to my very positive experiences with philosophy studies at Pacific.

Oh, and the debating skills I picked up often come in very handy!