The department encompasses two disciplines that share a commitment to pursue the fundamental questions of human existence, particularly at the intersection of faith and knowledge, and to examine 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,’ which literally translates as ‘love of wisdom,’ can be understood as the reasoned pursuit of truth. The breadth of the aim means that courses in philosophy range from considerations of how we should live to the nature of human knowing.
The academic study of religion is an exciting approach to a liberal arts education. It is inherently interdisciplinary—drawing upon the insights of history, sociology, politics, philosophy and literature, among others. The program is designed to provide opportunities for students to approach religious traditions in a variety of ways—including an exploration of rituals, beliefs, theology, ethics, communal worship, etc. With courses in the study of the Bible and the history of Christian thought, the major gives students a solid grounding in Christian traditions. The program is further designed to expose students to the rich history and variety of the world’s religious traditions.
The Samuel Thompson Club for Philosophy and Religious Studies is a student organization founded by majors dedicated to pursuing the discussion of philosophical and theological topics beyond the classroom. Recently the Club has sponsored discussions of environmental ethics, multiculturalism, feminism, the spiritual life, and business ethics.
The department has sent majors to the Newberry Library program in Chicago to pursue various studies in philosophy and religion as they relate to Newberry's collections in these fields.
Career and Graduate School Opportunities
Our alums go on to a variety of careers after Monmouth. Some of our most recent majors include a graduate student in philosophy at Northern Illinois University; a law school student at Washington University, St. Louis, MO, Northern Illinois University, and at Chicago-Kent College of Law.
The concentration in philosophy: This program prepares students to apply to study at graduate programs in philosophy, or other disciplines in the humanities (history; religious studies; languages; linguistics; literature; jurisprudence; the history, theory, and criticism of the arts; ethics; and those aspects of the social sciences that employ historical or philosophical approaches). Career opportunities after graduate school include teaching and research in higher education, editorial positions with publishers of philosophical work or journals, teaching in private schools, or the practice of law.
The strengths gained in studying philosophy not only serve students well across many disciplines, but in their lives beyond their undergraduate work. The ability to think analytically, speak persuasively, write with precision and clarity, and to attend to what is most at stake in an issue are valued in a wide variety of careers and other aspects of life. Philosophy requires not only a keen focus on argument and latent assumptions but a familiarity with systematic thinking, in which the historical, political, or social context of any argument is taken into account.
In recent years, a popular double major has been political science and philosophy among students headed for law school. The concentration in philosophy may be combined with many other majors at Monmouth to result in a double major that opens further career possibilities: philosophy and religious studies for seminary or graduate programs in religion; philosophy and biology, leading to careers in environmental ethics or bioethics; philosophy and political science, in preparation for law school; philosophy and communications for careers in media and communications that may focus on issues in communication ethics.
The concentration in religious studies: This program prepares students to apply to study at theological seminaries, graduate programs in religious studies, or other disciplines in the humanities (history; philosophy; languages; linguistics; literature; jurisprudence; the history, theory, and criticism of the arts; ethics; and those aspects of the social sciences that employ historical or philosophical approaches).
Career possibilities after seminary include full-time work in ministry (ordained ministry, priesthood, rabbinate, chaplaincy, etc.), religious education (for example, director of Christian youth ministries), or administrative positions within the regional or national organizations of religious denominations or institutions. Career possibilities after graduate school in religious studies include teaching and research in higher education, editorial positions with publishers of religious studies or religious journalism, or teaching in private schools.
The concentration in religious studies can be combined with many other majors at Monmouth to result in a double major that opens further career possibilities: for example, English and religious studies opens doors to graduate school or religious publishers; Communication and Theater Arts and religious studies opens doors to a concentration in preaching in seminary, religious journalism, or or religious drama; Education and religious studies would provide a good background for a Director of Christian education in a parish; Psychology and religious studies would provide background for a student seeking to become a social worker for a religious welfare agency.