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Philosophy & Religious Studies

The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies encompasses two disciplines that share a commitment to pursuing the fundamental questions of human existence and to examining the various ways in which the traditions of philosophy and religion have answered these questions.

The philosophy program is designed to encourage students to think creatively and critically, to analyze important texts and issues in the history of philosophy, and to bring challenges and contemporary perspectives to that tradition.

The term “philosophy” literally means “love of wisdom,” and courses in philosophy range from considerations of how we should live to the nature of human knowing. The study of philosophy often inspires students to develop a practice of living that informs their lives regardless of their chosen careers.

The religious studies program provides opportunities for students to approach religious traditions in a variety of ways – including exploration of rituals, sacred texts, beliefs, theology, ethics, communal worship, etc. Students learn about the variety of religions and dig deeply into particular religions to see how they have developed over time. The honed reading, writing and thinking skills that students acquire equip them well for pursuing work or continued study in a variety of fields.

Off-Campus Opportunities

The department has sponsored Alternative Spring Break trips including one to the country of Cuba in 2014.  Many other off-campus study and volunteerism options are also available.

On Campus Opportunities

The Samuel Thompson Society is dedicated to pursuing the discussion of philosophical and theological topics beyond the classroom. Sam Thompson Society sponsors “Meaning of Life Lunch,” a weekly exploration of ideas. The department hosts an annual visiting lecturer and sponsors an essay contest.

Pre-Seminary Program

Seminaries are looking for proven leaders who are intellectually supple and can thrive in multicultural settings. Regardless of major, a liberal arts education is the best preparation for future leadership in religious communities. Pre-seminary students (alterations can and should be made for students seeking theological training outside of a Christian context) should take these courses:

  • RELG 101: Introduction to Hebrew Bible
  • RELG 108: Introduction to New Testament
  • RELG 200: Topics in the History of Christian Thought
  • RELG 100: World Religions
  • Greek I and II OR Latin I and II, in consultation with the Department

Co-curricular involvement

  • Participation in the Lux Program for Church and Religious Leadership
  • An international experience
  • An internship or volunteer experience in a religious community
  • Participation in service projects and trip

Career Opportunities

  • State Legislator
  • Speech Writer
  • Journalist
  • Marketing Researcher
  • Event Planner
  • Policy Developer
  • Diplomat
  • Human Resources
  • Pastor
  • Youth Minister

Recent Philosophy and Religious Studies Graduates

Abbey Hardin ’07
Director of Student Activities and New Student Orientation
Blackburn College

Tim Ellenberg ’08
Financial Advisor
West Point Financial Group in Peoria, IL

Jennifer Erbes ’10
Director of Christian Education
First Presbyterian Church of Springfield, Illinois