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 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 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.