In support of the missions of Central Washington University and the College of Arts and Humanities, the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies prepares students for enlightened, responsible, and productive lives by providing them with the intellectual tools and scholarly background necessary for a deep, critical understanding of human experience. In recognition of the complex fabric of this experience, the mission of our department is to introduce our students to the diversity of philosophical and religious thought and practice. Knowledge of this diversity not only characterizes the well-educated individual, but also is essential for understanding, working, and living in an increasingly pluralistic society. Accordingly, after providing a foundation in the history of ideas, our curriculum has students engage with a variety of perspectives from a broad range of Western and Eastern traditions. These perspectives and traditions are approached through varied learning experiences. Not only do students take lecture-discussion classes, but they also participate in seminar-style conversations, mentored research, and service learning. Through these approaches, our students acquire skills and techniques that enable them to understand and respond thoughtfully to humanity’s deepest concerns and to recognize how such concerns impact our personal and professional lives.
The department offers an undergraduate major and minor in Philosophy, an undergraduate major specialization and minor in Religious Studies as well as a minor in Ethics. To encourage student-faculty interaction, we have a philosophy and religious studies club as well as a local chapter of Phi Sigma Tau, the international philosophy honor society, a local chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa, the international honor society of religious studies, and a pre-law club.
The major philosophers and intellectual traditions, Western and non-Western, are analyzed in order to show how philosophy relates directly to problems which thoughtful men and women face in the world today. The Religious Studies program enables students to examine religion objectively as a pervasive phenomenon of human life, providing knowledge of the history, practices, and literature of religious traditions, the varieties of religious world views, and the modes of religious thought and language.
The department's objectives include:
- Acquainting general education students with the basic questions of philosophy and religious studies, and giving them skills for developing their own answers to these questions.
- Offering courses for students in other disciplines such as the social and natural sciences and the arts. The purpose is to interpret, illuminate, and integrate the concepts of these disciplines in a broad framework of philosophic understanding and religious thought.
- Preparing students for graduate study in both philosophy and religious studies.
- Encouraging a humane, yet intellectually strict, approach to all fields and courses of study, not just those traditionally included in liberal arts and science departments. This is of crucial importance for persons entering professions such as medicine, law, education and engineering.
Many different careers utilize the skills which philosophy and religious studies develop:
- writing and speaking clearly and convincingly
- organizing data logically
- doing research effectively
- generating ideas
- finding hidden assumptions
- distinguishing subtle differences without overlooking similarities
- being sensitive to values
- being respectful of diverse thoughts
- adapting readily to change
Philosophy can sometimes assist individuals in their personal lives. It encourages people to face, understand and evaluate the fundamental beliefs by which they try to make sense of things and gain insight into themselves, other persons and the universe. A research study of college alumni, supported by the U.S. Office of Education, concluded that philosophy is "the subject the greatest number of alumni wish they had taken more of."
Our disciplines are excellent preparation for teaching at the college level, and good preparation for teaching in secondary schools. They are also good preparation for law, the ministry, journalism, computer science, government and politics, business, academic administration, librarianship and technical writing. Many of these fields require supplementary training, so students who wish to enter them are advised to secure a minor, or a second major, directly related to the field. For students who want practical work experience, the department offers cooperative education courses.