The Department of Philosophy and Religion offers courses in Philosophy, Religion, and integrated Humanities.
Philosophy explores general and fundamental questions about the nature of reality. These questions fall into three main categories—metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Metaphysics investigates the structure of reality considering questions such as: What is time? What is space? What is the nature of abstract objects like numbers, sets, or propositions? Epistemology examines questions such as: What is knowledge and how can we know something? What is truth? What is the structure of reasoning? These kinds of questions focus on different inductive and deductive methods of reasoning. Ethics is the area of philosophy that examines questions of value and morality such as: How should we live? What is moral value and what moral values should we use to decide how to act?
The major in philosophy is comprised of 21 credit hours of required courses—including an introductory course and courses in logic, methods of philosophical research, history of philosophy, ethics, and philosophy of science—with an additional 9 credit hours of coursework focused on specific areas of study, including political and social theory, environmental ethics, philosophy of art and aesthetics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of technology.
The major in philosophy promotes the development of critical thinking skills and the ability to communicate well-reasoned personal beliefs clearly in both written and oral discourse, both in and outside the classroom. As such, it provides a highly transferable skill set that will be applicable to a wide range of career areas such as law, business, the biosciences, and a variety of health professions. Graduates majoring in philosophy have successfully pursued further graduate study in law, medicine, the biosciences, business, cultural and policy studies, as well as in philosophy.
Courses in religion explore the beliefs and practices of humanity: from the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, to the Chinese traditions of Confucianism and Daoism; from the Samsaric religions of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, to the variety of small-scale and indigenous traditions around the world. Building on a core of regional surveys, the religion minor includes courses in Jewish and Christian Biblical studies, Islam, and the philosophy of religion, as well as topical courses that examine relevant themes across a wide selection of world traditions.
Courses in integrated humanities provide students with opportunities to explore the cultural and intellectual history of humankind from both “eurocentric” and contemporary global perspectives. The minor in humanities provides students an opportunity to combine 12 credit hours of required courses focusing on texts ranging from the Homeric epics and Augustine’s Confessions to recent works of film, the visual arts and music, literature, drama, and political and social theory with 6 credit hours from other humanistic, artistic or social scientific areas of study, including history, philosophy, religion, foreign languages, literature and creative writing, cinema and theatre, communication studies, political science and psychology.