A couple of years ago the philosophy program, such as it is, at my college moved from the Department of Psychology and Philosophy to the Department of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies, with philosophy and art being the humanistic studies in question. There is now some very hypothetical talk about moving it back or perhaps somewhere else entirely. Which raises the question of where it belongs.
A related question is what a philosophy program ought to be. Should philosophy be treated just like any other subject, with its own department and its own major, for instance? Or should it somehow be integrated with one or more other subjects? My undergraduate degree was in philosophy, politics, and economics, and studying philosophy on its own was not an option. I think there's something to be said for that, although in the US system nobody ever studies just one subject, so perhaps the point is moot.
Another thing that struck me recently (last Tuesday, to be precise) was that in one day I went to a talk by a leadership instructor that was all about the importance of ethics for leadership (and specifically, in his opinion, the ethics of Aristotle, Augustine, Gandhi, and Confucius, with particular emphasis on Aristotle), I attended another talk by a psychology professor that referred to the work of Thomas Kuhn, and I heard that a rhetoric professor teaches a course that includes Kuhn's work. In other words, lots of people seem to think that philosophical ideas are important. But far fewer people seem to think that philosophy is important, that, for instance, if you are going to study leadership or psychology then you ought to study some philosophy. We don't, for instance, offer any philosophy courses at my college that deal with Kuhn. There is something odd about this situation. And we are far from being the only college at which the study of philosophy is not flourishing.
Why people would pay so much lip service to the idea that philosophy matters while acting as if it doesn't is one question. (And answers might vary from its being different people who value philosophy, on the one hand, and who make decisions about what gets taught, on the other, to its being thought that philosophy isn't that hard and so you can understand (or teach) Kuhn or Aristotle without studying any other philosophy first.) My interest now is more in what the point of philosophy is as part of a college curriculum. If we can see its point then perhaps we can see its place.
One reason for teaching philosophy is to teach a kind of cultural literacy. If your other courses are going to refer to philosophers and their ideas then it would be good to have some background in these ideas, even if only of the bluffer's or dummies' guide variety.
Another reason would be to encourage more reflective thinking about whatever else you are studying. At my high school if you were applying to Oxford or Cambridge you were taught some philosophy of whatever you planned to study at university, as well as some general philosophy. I think it would be good for every history major to take a course in the philosophy of history, every science major to take a course on philosophy of science, and so on. Something like this happens now in some majors, but the courses tend to be in the history of ideas, and to be taught by non-philosophers. This does not, I think, encourage any real thought about what the subject is now or what (perhaps worth challenging) assumptions underlie it.
Then there's logic and critical thinking. I'm never sure whether taking a course on these things actually improves anyone's thinking (rather than simply rewarding those who are already logical), but it might help. There is supposedly evidence that mapping arguments improves critical thinking, but of course improving scores on tests designed to assess critical thinking is not necessarily the same thing. How critically you think during and in relation to a test might not match how you think in other situations. But it seems like something.
And then (lastly?) there's ethics, understood very broadly. Should we be religious, and if so, what kind of religion makes most sense? That is, what is religion?, is it a good thing?, and is it better to be a Thomist or a Kierkegaardian or a Buddhist or an atheist or what? What political theory makes the most sense? What values are at stake in contemporary debates about euthanasia, same-sex marriage, drug legalization, and so on? How should we rank these values or, if we don't rank them, how should we decide what to do about these and other things?
All this suggests that a healthy philosophy program would offer at least a couple of survey courses in the history of philosophy, several philosophy of fill-in-the-discipline-here, at least one logic or critical thinking course (at least if the evidence that these improve thinking stands up), and several ethics/religion/politics courses. And I'd be inclined to require at least two philosophy courses for every student. Engineers might take critical thinking and engineering ethics, say. Economists might take political philosophy and philosophy of science (or of social science).
I would think if all these courses were required and regularly offered then a stand-alone philosophy department would be needed. And it might as well offer a minor. Whether it should offer a major is not so clear to me, but a kind of minimal major, one that could easily be combined with a second major, might be a very good thing.