Philosophy and Sociology

Welcome to the Philosophy and Sociology Department website. Please click on the links below before to learn more about studying philosophy and sociology at Pierce College.



Opportunities and Events!

Betty Odello Perpetual Scholarship

  • Here is the online application form for the 2024 Odello Scholarship. First, however, be sure to read on for instructions and answers to frequently asked questions:

What is the Odello Scholarship?

  • Each year a group of friends of Philosophy Professor Emerita Betty Odello offers a scholarship of $1,500 in honor of her many years of dedicated service to Pierce College students.
  • The Betty Odello Perpetual Scholarship is awarded each Spring to a Pierce student who will enroll as a transfer student to a four-year institution the following Fall.
  • The scholarship is awarded to one or more applicants by the Odello Scholarship Committee, which is made up of faculty and donors.

You should apply if you meet the following requirements:

  • You will transfer to a university next semester (Fall 2024).
  • You meet the requirements to transfer to a bachelor’s program by the end of the current semester.
  • You will have completed a total of nine (9) units in Sociology, Philosophy, or a combination of both. (It is not necessary to have declared Philosophy or Sociology your major.)
    • You must have completed three (3) of the nine (9) units by the application submission deadline (April 21, 2024)
    • You must have successfully completed or be in the process of successfully completing six (6) of the nine (9) units at the time of the application.
      • If you are currently enrolled in three (3) or six (6) courses at the time of your application, list the course(s), section number, and instructor. Note that if you do not complete the course with a passing grade, the award will be rescinded.
  • You have completed at least 30 units at Pierce with a minimum cumulative Pierce GPA of 3.3.
  • Your completed application must include:
    • A completed application form (to which you will also upload your supporting documents):
      • a personal statement, which highlights your life story, along with your academic and professional goals;
      • an academic writing sample, no longer than 12 pages;
      • a copy of your unofficial transcripts
    • A letter of recommendation from a trusted faculty member. Please be sure to provide your recommender with this link ( to view letter or recommendation guidelines:

Your student has requested that you write a letter recommending him/her for the Philosophy/Sociology Perpetual Scholarship.  In this letter, please comment on the following:

  • how long you have you known the applicant and in what capacity,
  • scholastic ability and achievement,
  • critical thinking,
  • dependability: coming to class, turning in assignments on time, etc.
  • ability to express oneself, both written and oral,
  • any special characteristics, circumstances.

Please limit your letter to one page, double-spaced.  Upload your letter of recommendation here. Please be sure to include the student’s name in the file name, e.g. LoR_Julio_Tsuha.

How and where do I apply?

  • Your completed application (application form and supporting documents) will be submitted via this form. (Alternatively, go to
  • Please be sure to follow the instructions, which are found on both the application form (available on the Pierce College Philosophy and Sociology Department website by March 15).

When is the deadline?

  • Completed application packets (your completed application form, which includes supporting documents, and your recommender's letter) are due via the application form (available by March 15, 2024) by 11:59 PM on Sunday April 21, 2024.

When will the scholarship be awarded?

  • You will be notified by email within a week of the committee’s decision, and no later than mid-May, 2024.
  • The 2024 scholarship will be awarded during the Pierce College Graduation Breakfast to a student or student who is transferring to a four-year institution for the Fall 2024 semester.

What do I do if I have questions?

  • Please contact Mia Wood, Co-Coordinator of the Betty Odello Perpetual Scholarship.
  • You can reach Mia via email:  @email. Please put “Odello Scholarship” in the subject line.


The Philosophy and Sociology Department invites you to participate in Pierce College’s 1st Annual Ethics Bowl!

  • When? May 9, 2024 at 3:30 PM
  • Where? Building 600: Faculty and Staff Center
  • If you’re a Pierce College faculty or staff member, or you’re a Pierce College student, consider serving as a moderator or judge. Please sign up here (or go to Audience members also have a vote!
  • Come for the competition, stay for the community, and enjoy snacks, refreshments, and prizes!
  • Deadline to sign up: March 29th. Sign-up here (or go to  
  • Keep scrolling to see the Ethics Bowl FAQs.
  • Questions? Contact Mia Wood: @email

1st Annual Pierce College Ethics Bowl FAQs

Most, if not all, of your questions are answered here. Contact Mia Wood at if you have additional questions.

  • Official Pierce College clubs, i.e., clubs registered through Pierce College’s Associated Students Organization, are eligible to compete.
  • Additional competitors may be allowed.

The event will be held on May 9th at 3:30.

The event will be held on the Pierce College campus, in Building 600: Faculty and Staff Center.

  1. Each round lasts 40 minutes, not including set-up, reading cases, and transitions.
  2. Club teams (TEAM A and TEAM B) consist of four (4) to five (5) members.
  3. Each round is judged by two (2) to three (3) volunteers.
  4. At the start of the round, in which two teams compete, a coin toss decides which team presents first. The winner of the coin toss decides to present their case first or to have the opposing team present first.
  5. The team that presents first (TEAM A) is given a case study to prepare for presentation. The moderator reads the case, and then the team has five (5) minutes to prepare their presentation.
  6. The presentation lasts five (5) minutes; each club member speaks for one (1) minute, though the moderator only keeps track of the allotted time.
  7. The opposing team (TEAM B) has up to five (5) minutes to respond to TEAM A’s presentation.
  8. Each judge may ask a follow-up question. The follow-up session lasts no more than five (5) minutes.
  9. TEAM B is given a case study to prepare for presentation. The moderator reads the case, and then the team has five (5) minutes to prepare their presentation.
  10.  The presentation lasts five (5) minutes; each TEAM B member speaks for one (1) minute, though the moderator only keeps track of the allotted time.
  11.  The opposing team (TEAM A) has up to five (5) minutes to respond to TEAM B’s presentation.
  12.  Each judge may ask TEAM B a follow-up question. The follow-up session lasts no more than five (5) minutes.
  13.  The two highest-scoring* teams from round 1 compete in the final round.
  14.  The same sequence in 2-12 above are followed.
  15.  Each team in the final round begin with 0 points, i.e., prior scores are not carried over to the final.

*Ties are broken by coin toss, unless time permits another round or rounds in which tied scores are broken by competition that follows the same format as the initial round.

  • (Links to handouts on argumentation, basic moral theories, sample competition cases, and videos of competitions?) Please contact Mia Wood for more details.
  • Judges will be given links to sample cases and instructions on ethics bowl judging. On the day of the event, judges are given score sheets and scoring criteria.
  • Philosophy faculty will hold at least one information session for participating clubs. Date and time TBD.

  • Judges are faculty members and fellow students. So, invite your friends to vote for you (although that may or may not be ethical)!
  • No club faculty advisor who has a team competing in the event may serve as a judge.

  • Members of the Pierce College Philosophy and Sociology faculty, along with other faculty and student volunteers will serve as competition moderators and judges.
  • Audience members will have a vote!

Contact Us



FO 2605


Department Chair

Dr. Cara Gillis, PhD
Email: @email
Phone: (818) 710-2256

FO 2604

Student Advisor, Philosophy

Dr. Melanie McQuitty, PhD
Email: @email
Phone: (818) 710-3645

FO 2603

Student Advisor, Sociology

A. James McKeever, PhD
Email: @email
Phone: (818) 710-2255