Philosophy & Religion Electives
Most students have interests and goals that lead them to choose majors and minors in subjects other than philosophy or religion. For those students good reasons exist for their taking some elective courses in these disciplines.
Students planning to pursue professional careers can broaden their understanding of western culture and the formative factors of thought that shape our modern world. Moreover, there are philosophy courses which are relevant theoretically or practically to professions such as business, law, and medicine. For these and other professions here are some valuable courses beyond general introductions.
Journalism and Communication: Introductory to intermediate courses in logic and ethics are highly relevant. Philosophy of language should enhance understanding of communication, and philosophy of science should cast light on some of the technical subjects with which many people in journalism and communication must deal. Beyond this, political and social philosophy can deepen one's understanding of society and social institutions. Other courses, such as aesthetics, philosophy of law and philosophy of religion are highly desirable for those with related special interests.
Pre-medicine and Other Health Professions: Extra work in the general area of ethics should be useful. Philosophy of mind, with its emphasis on understanding the human person, is valuable. Philosophy of science may yield a better understanding of-and even a greater capacity for-the integration of medical research with medical practice. Philosophy of religion can lead to a better understanding of many patients and numerous others with whom physicians work closely. Aesthetics and the history of philosophy may enhance the common ground practitioners can find with patients or colleagues who are from other cultures or have unusual orientations or views. Philosophy of medicine and medical ethics are obviously of direct relevance.
Business: Courses in the general area of political or social philosophy are valuable background for executives and managers, particularly in understanding social institutions such as corporations, unions and political parties. Classes in logic and decision theory may contribute greatly to the capacity to analyze data and select plans of action. Both ethics (particularly business ethics) and philosophy of mind may benefit business people in conducting many of their day-to-day activities.
Engineering: Logic and philosophy of science are highly relevant to engineering. Ethics, including political or social philosophy, is also valuable for careers in this field. Epistemology should interest engineering students who want to enhance their understanding of human knowledge in general and of the growth of scientific knowledge in particular.
Pre-seminary: Philosophy of religion has the most obvious relevance for pre-seminary students, but they should also find a number of other courses including ethics, philosophy of mind and history of philosophy of special value. Historically, philosophy has influenced religion just as religion has influenced philosophy. Philosophy of art, philosophy of literature and philosophy of history can also play a unique role in creating the breadth of perspective needed for the clergy.
Students planning to pursue professional training in law or medicine or seek employment in business and industry can broaden their understanding of western culture through a study of biblical literature. Or, a study of church history and the history of religious thought will increase one's appreciation of the formative factors and cross-currents of thought that shape our modern world. Persons in the professions and places of leadership in society should have this kind of breadth of understanding.
In addition, the human community is rapidly becoming an international community which requires persons with a knowledge and understanding of traditions different from their own. For example, the study of world religions can provide a better understanding of the beliefs, customs and attitudes of other cultures.
Also, persons in the professions and places of leadership are inevitably faced with moral dilemmas and decisions. Courses such as Christian ethics can help a student sort out assumptions, issues and options available in moral decision-making situations. Such courses do not provide simple solutions to moral dilemmas, but do assist one in finding one's way through the inherent complexity of these situations.
Finally, the academic study of religion does encourage a person to begin the journey of significant reflection on the ultimate questions of existence. The excitement of that journey in itself enriches the lives of all who embark on it.
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