Blended Department

The Department of Philosophy and Religion at Ithaca College is a blended department, offering courses and programs in two separate disciplines: Philosophy and Religious Studies. This is a reasonable pairing of disciplines, in the sense that both disciplines study comprehensive worldviews, that is, belief sets that purport to describe the ultimate nature of reality as well as the ultimate sources of worth, meaning, or purpose in life.

Distinct Disciplines

Despite this affinity in subject matter, however, significant differences often exist between the form, content, and approaches of religious worldviews and philosophical worldviews. Accordingly, we recognize Philosophy and Religious Studies as distinct disciplines, and we as a department have seen fit to define two separate mission statements, one for each discipline.

Mission Statements of the Philosophy and Religious Studies Programs

Philosophy is the most conceptually fundamental of the liberal arts. It aims to understand abstract ideas and their relations to one another and the world, to learn what have been among the most influential ideas in human history from antiquity to the present, and to enter into the dialectical process of rational disputation concerning those ideas. As such…

  • The mission of the Philosophy program at Ithaca College is to cultivate our students’ analytical, critical, interpretive, and evaluative abilities as applied to current philosophical discussions, historical texts, and contemporary issues. Our overall aim is to contribute to our students’ growth as competent and original thinkers and writers who are able to navigate complex debates.

Religion impacts the lives of billions of people around the globe. Whether one subscribes to a particular belief system or not, it is impossible to deny religion’s contribution to the culture, ideals, and moral values that have shaped and inspired human societies for millennia. As such…

  • The mission of the Religious Studies program at Ithaca College is to provide students with the skills to critically and respectfully engage with the world’s religious traditions. Students come to see these traditions as evolving historical phenomena and a global force in the modern world, while cultivating critical reading, writing, and thinking skills that are highly valued by employers and graduate schools. The academic study of religion also enables students to obtain a critical perspective on both the familiar and the unfamiliar, while making students better interpreters of religious texts, rituals, myths, and material culture.

Although our programs have distinct mission statements, we note the following significant overlaps between the statements: both mission statements emphasize the importance of enhancing our students’ skills of critical thinking, interpretation, and writing, so that they are better able to grapple with complexities presented both by historical and contemporary contexts -- contexts in which diverse ideas and diverse peoples must be understood and appreciated.