Affiliation: School of Social & Cultural Studies
Majors in philosophy and religion acquire an engaged knowledge of both classics in philosophy and religion and current works and problems. Students employ diverse methods and perspectives of religious studies and philosophy. They learn to write clearly and persuasively, to speak and listen in ways that promote understanding and discourse, and to read carefully and productively, balancing openness and critical reflection. The knowledge and skills that students develop enable a richer understanding and engagement with the surrounding world and foster clarification of the individual’s worldview.
The goals of philosophy and religion courses include:
1) broad, foundational understanding of the history and practices of philosophies and religions, 2) engaged familiarity with methodological questions in philosophy and religious studies, 3) knowledgeable appreciation of other disciplines and of philosophical issues and questions of religion that relate to other disciplines, 4) critical and empathetic textual acuity, 5) critical thinking and argumentation skills, 6) effective written and oral communication, 7) intellectual independence, 8) the capacity for open-mindedness and ethical sensitivity. A major in philosophy and religion directly supports and expands the liberal arts experience.
The Philosophy and Religion major consists of five required courses and at least five electives in philosophy and religion (for more details, see Major Requirements below). The first four required courses in the history and problems of philosophy and religion establish a common domain of discourse. These courses provide a foundation in the diversity of religious thought and experience and in the history, development, and major problems of philosophical thought. The fifth required course, the senior seminar, provides integration. In the senior seminar, each student prepares and defends a substantial thesis, supported by the collaborative efforts of faculty and other students in the seminar.
PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION COMMUNICATION
All Philosophy and Religion majors will also develop their communication skills as speakers and as writers. Many Philosophy and Religion major elective and required courses are writing-enhanced, with some emphasis on speaking experiences. Students will produce assignments or term/research papers, participate in class discussion, and make oral presentations in various courses. The Senior Capstone Seminar is the culmination of the “writing about research” experience in which students are required to produce independent research work and make a public oral presentation and defense aimed at specialist and non-specialist audiences.
DEPARTMENTAL HONORS IN PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION
Primary consideration is given to:
- Performance in courses within the major.
- The quality of the senior thesis.
- Evidence of the student’s commitment to scholarly values.
Consideration is also given to:
- Performance in courses outside the major.
- Contributions to the intellectual life of the campus.
- Public scholarly activity.
- Other independent scholarship.