University of Maine at Farmington 2021-2022 Catalog

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Interdisciplinary Studies - Philosophy/Religion
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Degree Earned
Bachelor of Arts: Interdisciplinary Studies - Philosophy/Religion

The word “philosophy” comes from roots meaning “love of wisdom.” To love something is different from possessing it. Philosophers don’t claim to be wiser than anyone else; they claim only to be lovers of wisdom — that is, lovers of inquiry into the questions that affect our lives most fundamentally. What is the best way to live? What is the nature of truth? What is the right way to treat other people? Note that wisdom is different from knowledge – it implies a recognition of the limits of knowledge, and of the ways in which what we know (or don’t know) can and should be reflected in the way we live. People sometimes challenge philosophy’s connection to the real world, but conceived in this way, the real world is the only thing philosophy can be about. Philosophy, then, consists in thinking deeply about anything that needs to be thought about.

Religion is everywhere. It is arguably the most powerful force at work in the world today, shaping both individual lives and political revolutions. It affects the way we humans (even “irreligious” humans) eat, think, love, vote and die. To study religion in its historical and contemporary forms is to come to grips with our humanity in its most intimate and challenging moments. Students of this endlessly fascinating field develop a deep understanding of the world, humanity, and themselves, an understanding that is crucial for engaged citizenship in a world shaped by the power and persistence of religion in its many forms.

Some people think of philosophy as characterized by skepticism and religion by faith, but here at UMF we see them as a continuous enterprise concerned with pondering humankind’s position in the universe and considering thoughtfully how we should live as a result of our beliefs. In the Philosophy / Religion program, while considering the deepest questions and most challenging ideas in our intellectual heritage, you will develop and sharpen your skills in critical reading, logical thinking, and clear, effective writing – skills which employers say they most expect from college graduates. And who knows? You might even discover the meaning of life.

About the Concentration:

This concentration is designed to help students become more knowledgeable and capable inquirers in their pursuit of better answers to some of life's most fundamental questions.

Learning Goals, Assessment, and Requirements

Three out of four of the following courses(12 total credits):
PHI 120H What is the Good Life? 4
PHI 140H Self, Knowledge, and Society 4
PHI 220H Constructing Our World and Ourselves           4
PHI 240H Consciousness and Experience 4
One 300-level course in Philosophy or a PHI 397 independent capstone project 4
Three Philosophy electives, with at least 1 at the 200-level or above 12
REL 100H   Introduction to the Study of Religion 4
REL 110H   Introduction to World Religions  
Two Religion electives 8
One open elective course from either PHI or REL (or from another department, related to PHI or REL, with permission) 4

Total Credits for the Major: 44



 Intermediate Proficiency in a World Language 12

For specific information about general education requirements and expectations, see the General Education Requirements in the Academic Programs section of this catalog.


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Learning Goals, Assessment, and Requirements

Learning Goals:

  • Students will pursue inquiries in the fields of philosophy and religion. They will develop their own inquiries, and (ultimately) be able to explain their own questions and goals using the vocabulary and concepts of the disciplines they have studied.
  • Students will improve their ability to reason about and evaluate the responses of others to some of life's most fundamental questions, and to articulate their own responses as well.
  • Students will be able to explain and be fluent in using a significant range of vocabulary and concepts from the fields of philosophy and religion in their own thinking, writing, and discourse. In particular, they will be able to use the vocabulary and concepts of historically significant figures in the fields of philosophy and religion in this way.
  • Students will know some of the historical context of the philosophical and religious concepts they use. They will understand some of the ways that the development of those concepts relates to developments in other fields.
  • Students will develop their abilities to do a close reading of difficult texts, and write clear, thoughtful, well-reasoned prose about abstract ideas. Students will develop the habit of defining key terms when they read and write.
  • Students will learn to recognize and articulate arguments and other rhetorical strategies. Students will be able to produce reasoned evaluations of arguments and other rhetorical strategies in both their own work and the work of others.
  • Students will learn some of the research standards and procedures appropriate to the disciplines of philosophy and religion. In particular, students will know how to find out what has been said on a topic, how to limit their claims and responses appropriately, and how to reference sources adequately and appropriately.

Assessment Criteria:

We assess the program's success in achieving its goals through evaluation of student papers, presentations, examinations, and discussions.

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