Welcome to the department of Philosophy and Religious Studies! This handbook is meant to clarify expectations that the department has for its majors. It also shows the various concentrations available to majors, along with a description of minors offered in our department. Students will also find the requirements for the PST and TAK honor societies, and the clubs sponsored through our department described in these pages as well.

Please also view our “Career Success” page.

Getting Started on Your Coursework:

  • First year: the department recommends that anyone planning to major in philosophy and religious studies take PHIL101 (Critical Thinking) sometime during their first year. This is a foundational course in our department, and it helps students to both understand arguments and to form their own arguments.  {PHIL102 no longer exists. If you are working from an older catalog (before Fall 2012) that requires this course, you can take PHIL205 to replace it. However, most students have also needed an upper level argument course because they have used PHIL205 to fulfill an area of inquiry, so, PHIL205 + upper level argument course}
  • First/second year: the department recommends that anyone planning to major in philosophy and religious studies take PHIL205 (Anatomy of Thought) sometime during their second semester or second year. This is a formal reasoning course that will give students the tools they need to succeed as majors.
  • First/second year: the department recommends for philosophy BA students to take PHIL201-202 (ancient and modern); for pre-seminary students to take at least one of the Visions courses (RSTD220, 232, 265, or 270) and a scriptures course (RSTD361-262, or 366); and for comparative students to take RSTD211-212 (Religions of the East and West).
  • Third year/fourth year: complete requirements listed below in specified degree/concentration area. Note that those concentrating in pre-seminary studies need to set time aside to complete RSTD491 (internship); talk with Dr. Redick about this.  All majors must also take PHIL451 (a special topics course) BEFORE they can take PHIL490 (senior seminar).  This means you need to plan your schedule accordingly. If you are a double major, we do not recommend taking both of your senior seminar courses in the same semester.



 

BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies

 

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy

  • PHIL 101, 205, 451, 490W;
  • PHIL 201, 202;
  • Select one (3 credits) Ethics/Value Analysis: PHIL 304, 315, 319, 337, 376 or 384;
  • Select one (3 credits) Epistemology/Metaphysics: PHIL 305, 317, 320 or 308;
  • Select four (12 credits) 300-400 level courses in PHIL and/or RSTD;
  • Submit a portfolio of all written work completed in all philosophy and religious studies courses taken at CNU;
  • Successfully complete the CNU Philosophy and Religious Studies departmental comprehensive examination

 

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy

PRE-SEMINARY STUDIES CONCENTRATION

  • PHIL 101, 205, 451, 490W;
  • RSTD 361, 362, 491;
  • Select one (3 credits) Visions course: RSTD 220, 232, 260, 265, or 270;
  • Select one (3 credits) Historical Studies: RSTD 319, 335, 350; PHIL 317, 348 or 349;
  • Select one (3 credits) Value Analysis: RSTD 312, 315, 326W, 337, 338; PHIL 304, 306, 308, 315, 319, 337, 376;
  • Select one (3 credits) Comparative Studies: RSTD 236, 310, 318, 330, 340 or 345;
  • Select two (6 credits) courses in PHIL and/or RSTD;
  • Submit a portfolio of all written work completed in philosophy and religious studies courses taken at CNU;
  • Successfully complete the CNU Philosophy and Religious studies departmental comprehensive exam.

 

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy

RELIGIOUS STUDIES CONCENTRATION

  • PHIL 101, 205, 451, 490W;
  • RSTD 211, 212;
  • Select three (9 credits) Comparative and Historical Studies: RSTD 220, 232, 260, 256, 270, 318, 319, 330, 335, 340 or 350;
  • Select three (9 credits) courses in PHIL and/or RSTD, two at the 300-400 level;
  • Submit a portfolio of all written work completed in all written philosophy and religious studies courses taken at CNU;
  • Successfully complete the CNU Philosophy and Religious Studies departmental comprehensive exam.

 

  

Argumentation and Logic

PHIL 101, 205, 305, 320, 321

Comparative Studies

RSTD 211, 212, 330, 336, 340

Historical Studies

PHIL 201, 202, 203, 307, 312, 317, 348, 349, 350, 357, 399, 451; RSTD 220, 232, 260, 265, 319, 335, 350

Value Analysis

PHIL 304, 306, 308, 315, 319, 323, 326W, 337, 374, 376, 380, 382, 383, 384, 386, 399; RSTD 326W, 337, 338

Textual Analysis

PHIL 348, 349, 357; RSTD 361, 362

 

The Minor in Philosophy of Law (18 credits)

1. PHIL 205, 321W, 425;

2. GOVT 316;

3. Select one: PHIL 337 or RSTD 321;

4. Select one: LDSP 386; GOVT 240, 327; or PHIL304.

 

The Minor in Philosophy and Religious Studies (18 credits)

The minor requires PHIL101 or PHIL205 and a minimum of 15 credits above the 100-level in PHIL/RSTD courses. At least two of the PHIL/RSTD courses must be taken at the 300-400 level.

 

Interdisciplinary Minors with which our department cooperates: American Studies Minor, the Linguistics Minor, the Women and Gender Studies Minor, Film Studies, and the Asian Studies Minor.

 

The Senior Seminar: The senior seminar class is the capstone course for the Philosophy and Religious Studies majors. The class meets in regular class sessions to support your work on an argument paper that you will defend at the end of the semester. You will work with a committee of advisors on this paper throughout the semester to revise it to the standards of a publication-worthy product. In addition to the thesis project, this class is the place through which you will submit your PHIL/RSTD portfolio, and you will take your comprehensive exams.

  • Thesis Committee: You will choose a “chair,” of your advising committee, who should be a specialist in the topic of your paper. In addition, you need two other faculty members on your committee. Choose faculty members whose research background will help you to support your argument or help you understand the opposition to your argument. This committee will be the people to whom you defend your paper at the end of the semester. They will have read the different stages of your paper and (because of this) they will understand the strengths and weaknesses of your position.
  • Defense: During the last week of class, you will be asked to orally defend your argument in a formal presentation for the members of your committee. You will have submitted the final paper to them about a week before this, so they will have read the final paper before your defense. Your actual presentation may be about 20 minutes, but the defense lasts from 45 minutes to an hour. At that time you will earn a pass, pass with distinction, or fail. These advisors will also each give the instructor a letter grade for your paper and the instructor will average these grades together (with the instructor’s grade) for your final paper grade. YOU WILL NOT PASS THIS COURSE IF YOU DO NOT PASS THE DEFENSE OR THE COMPREHENSIVE EXAM. The Criteria which the faculty advisors use at the senior paper defense are: Relevance and Importance of Topic, Quality of Sources and References, Strength of Arguments and Counter Arguments, Clarity, Professional Style, Coherence, Consistency, Completeness, and Quality of Oral Presentation.
  • Portfolio: Please begin collecting an electronic sample of papers that you have written in philosophy and religious studies courses at Christopher Newport. We will create an electronic folder on Scholar with your name where you will be able to store your portfolio.
  • Poster Session: During week 8 or 9 of the Senior Seminar course, you will create a poster of your argument to visually depict how your argument works. This is basically a flow chart of your argument. During the poster session, you will be showing the class, the professors from the department, and anyone else who shows up (other majors/minors) how your argument works. This is a chance for you to see the strengths and weaknesses of your argument from a variety of viewpoints.
  • Comprehensive Exam: During our exam period, you will take the departmental exam. You can prepare for this by going to the comprehensive exam tab on the department’s website (here). You will be responsible for a question in four of these five areas: Critical Thinking, Global Philosophy, Religious Studies, Values Studies/Moral Theory, and Western Philosophy.
    • Please choose three questions in each of the four areas to study ahead of time.
    • You will have to tell the instructor which four areas you have chosen for your comprehensive exams, and in those 4/5 areas, which THREE questions you have prepared.
    • You will be studying 12 questions in preparation for those four. So, you will have a total of four essay questions for your final exam.
    • The instructor will choose the final questions for you for the final comprehensive exam from the questions you have selected.

Clubs, Activities, Honor Societies available to majors:

See: Events

  • Tuesday Tea: We hold a Tuesday Tea for socializing with department professors, majors and minors. This is held in the McMurran first floor snack area, just outside of Philosophy and Religious Studies faculty offices. We have tea and light cakes and cookies each Tuesday from 10:40-11:30 am.
  • Philosophy Movie Night: About three nights a semester, we offer free movies with discussion. Movies are chosen for their potential for fun philosophical insights. Past movies have included the Hobbit, the Matrix, Fight Club, Social Network, and Dogma. If you are interested in this semester’s movies, please contact Dr. Eric Silverman.
  • Socrates Café: this is a club of students who like to discuss what is on their minds. Sometimes they choose from something in the news that day, other times they choose the age old questions of "What is ...?" The idea behind this group, though, is to learn how to think, not what to think. This group is entirely student-driven.  The faculty sponsor is Dr. Elizabeth Jelinek, and the current student contact is Ben Foster.

Phi Sigma Tau Philosophy Honor Society:

Requirements for membership:

  • Completion of the equivalent of one year of full-time study and at least three philosophy courses
  • An overall grade point average of at least 3.2
  • A GPA in Philosophy courses of at least 3.0
  • Ranking in the top 35% of your graduating class
  • Students not meeting the requirements for membership, but sharing a genuine interest in the goals of the society may become chapter associates.
  • Fill out application, copy of transcript & $25 induction fee made out to PST

Theta Alpha Kappa Religious Studies Honor Society:

Requirements for Membership:

  • Completed at least 3 semesters at CNU
  • Completed at least 4 religion courses (12 credit hours)
  • GPA of 3.5 in religion courses and 3.0 overall
  • Ranked in top 35% of class
  • Students not meeting the requirements for membership, but sharing a genuine interest in the goals of the society may become chapter associates.
  • Fill out application, copy of transcript & $35 induction fee made out to CNU, with student id#

Interested students contact Dr. Dawn Hutchinson, MCM115, 594-8796.

These honor societies work together to sponsor a student conference (the John Hoaglund Philosophy and Religious Studies Student Conference) each spring, drawing papers from all over the country.

To keep in touch with events and current events in philosophy and religious studies, please visit our Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/PhilCNU

Socrates Cafe promotes thoughtful and reflective philosophical sharing. In the Socrates Cafe, members discuss topics from differing viewpoints to expand their thinking in more imaginative, intellectual and empathetic ways.

For more information about topics and meeting times, contact Dr. Elizabeth Jelinek, faculty advisor to the club, or Ben Foster, student president.