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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Echo
Diller Metaphysics.jpeg

Metaphysics meets memes: Creative advertising draws students

Diller finds joy in deep questions

After 16 years of teaching, Kevin Diller Ph.D., a professor of philosophy and religion, continues to learn from the classes that he is tasked with teaching.

Not only is Diller continuing to learn about his content, but he is also learning about how to get students interested in his classes.

In 2008, Diller began teaching at Taylor University, and in 2009, he taught his first metaphysics class.

What is metaphysics, though?

“The interesting thing about this subject – that wouldn't be true for any subject – [is] it's one of the fundamental areas of philosophy, but you can't find a consensus among philosophers as to even a definition of it,” Diller said. 

Despite their disagreements, philosophers have at least agreed on the fact that metaphysics is the thought process that attempts to find a clearer understanding of reality itself.

With such a complex idea being discussed in PHI 355, it is not one that students often think to sign up for. Most students don't know what it is, so they don’t sign up.

That is why Diller decided he needed a new way to make the course more attractive to students. 

An idea sparked in his head when he was grading assignments in his PHI 201, Logic class. He would send memes to students with their grades, and two students started responding to his memes. He decided to reach out to them for help with advertising his metaphysics course.

Diller believed that senior Sydney Dolson and Abbey Suess (‘22) could help him — and have fun doing so.

“We just wanted a fun way to draw people into the class,” Dolson said.

Diller asked these two because they were both already showing their creative sides. He hoped they could make it look fun.

“Here were a couple of philosophically inclined people who were generating creative stuff,” Diller said. “I was like, ‘Can you make some things that would be fun and interesting and also make people intrigued?’”

With the help of Dolson and Suess, Diller found a new way to bring attention to his metaphysics course… MEMES.

“It was such a fun and easy project to advertise Dr. Diller’s class with memes,” Dolson said.

After the first metaphysics memes were posted around campus in 2022, the class size more than doubled, going from just seven students to 18 the next time around.

Diller believes that students join these classes because their friends join. He can’t deny the fact that he has gotten more students' attention after advertising with the memes.

“If all your cool friends are signing up for a course and you're like, ‘I want to be in that. I don't want to miss out,’” Diller said, “I think — I do think — that the meme hype helped the buzz around the class.”

This semester, 10 students are learning and questioning metaphysics, which Diller believes is a good size for this class. He believes anywhere from eight to 12 is the perfect size for students to engage in the conversations that metaphysics brings about.

The Metaphysics class truly delves into the deep questions of life and reality. Diller enjoys that he can continue to teach and learn things while also being able to show some humor.

He hopes that students will continue to be attracted to this class because he enjoys getting to discuss it and ask and answer questions.

“Once you start asking some of these questions, you start to realize this: how mind-blowing the world is that we're in it [and] how little we fully understand it,” Diller said.