History, Philosophy & Religious Studies

The History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies curriculum has several objectives:

1) to develop an appreciation of the past through multiple perspectives;

2) to increase knowledge of our interdependent and complex world;

3) to teach the value of engaging in open-minded dialogue and discussion; and

4) to foster an understanding of foundational terms and ideas defining history, philosophy, and religion so that our students are prepared to do substantive work presently, in college, and beyond.

With these objectives in mind, the department offers a variety of courses that recognize the importance of content, while teaching skills necessary to effectively process the vast amount of information in these disciplines. These include the ability to analyze text and nuance drawn from a variety of sources; to construct a logical argument in both oral and written form; to practice the skills of comparison, criticism, interpretation, imagination, and synthesis; to collaborate in small groups; and to make effective use of the internet and other digital resources while still appreciating a study of classic texts and primary sources.

One of the most important goals of the History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies Department is the development of actively engaged learners in the classroom, with students themselves often guiding class discussions. The department distinguishes between mere oral “participation” and true intellectual engagement. We encourage students to ask questions, make connections, and challenge assumptions.

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