The Department of Philosophy and Religion

Est. April, 2005
Faculty Bios Why Religion / Philosophy? Departmental Publications Honors and Awards Two Year Class Schedule

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Major and Minor Information

Why major in Religion or Philosophy?

Philosophy Major / Minor Requirements and Course Descriptions

Religion Major/Minor Requirements and Course Descriptions

Tenative Two Year Class Schedule

Academic Honors and Awards

Assessment Materials

Assessment Plan
Assessment Plan - 2007 update

2004 Assessment Report

2005 Assessment Report
2005 Assmt Report, Appendix C

2006 Assessment Report
2006 Assmt Report, Appendix B

2007 Assessment Report
2007 Assmt Report, Appendix B

2009 Assessment Report
2010 Assessment Report
2011 Assessment Report

Other Links

Departmental Honor Code Policy

Academic Departments
Illinois College Homepage

Religion Web Resources


Philosophy and religion are integral to a liberal arts education, as they explore dimensions of human life which have had a profound and decisive effect on our conception of human nature, destiny, and action.

All courses in the department emphasize traditional liberal arts skills of thinking and writing. Close reading of primary texts and development of analytical skills allow students to explore ideas and values that form the basis of human civilization. Emphasis is also placed on expressing ideas clearly and persuasively through writing.

Religion classes help students acquire fundamental knowledge about the ideas and histories of religious traditions, and an appreciation for and tolerance of differing religious ideas, practices, and cultural expressions.

Philosophy classes help students acquire a fundamental grasp of western philosophical traditions; and a working acquaintance with and ability to participate in philosophical argumentation.

A major in Religion or Philosophy is excellent preparation for professions that deal with people’s concerns about meaning, value, and justice. These fields include:

  • Education
  • Law
  • Ministry
  • Medicine
  • Public service
  • Graduate work in a variety of disciplines
  • Any profession that requires problem-solving, critical thinking, research, and writing
As a minor or part of a double major, it can bring new perspectives to work in any other field, including the sciences, politics, and business.

Why study Religion or Philosophy?

The Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa reported a the results of a survey of students majoring in theology at Georgetown University between 1970-2003. Of the 182 respondants, 33% had a bachelor's degree, 33% earned a master's degree, and 33% received a doctorate (JD, PhD, EdD, DDM, MD, or DMin).

25% are educators, 16% are in law, 12% medicine, 8% business, 7% non-profits, 5% government, 4% finance, 4% fine arts. Surprisingly, only 4% are in careers related to religion (clergy, missionaries, etc.). Other careers (each constituting 3% or less of respondents) include counseling, writing, homemaking, continuing eductaion, information technology, environmental science and culinary arts.

Many respondants "reported that their theology study and interaction with faculty and students had significantly influenced their life values and had increased their ability to think critically. . . to express themselves effectively and to strenghten and deepen their religious experience." (J. of TAK, Fall 2005, pp. 54-55)

Current Teaching Faculty

(in alphabetical order)

Dr. John A. Laumakis
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
B.A., Lehigh University
Ph.D., Marquette University
Teaching Areas: History of Western Philosophy, Ethics, Logic, Philosophy of Religion Research Area: Medieval Philosophy
Research Areas:
Contact John A. Laumakis

Dr. Adam Porter
Associate Professor of Religion
B.A., Oberlin College
M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School
Ph.D., Duke University
Teaching Areas: Hebrew Bible, Ancient Near Eastern Religions, New Testament, Art and Archaeology, Abrahamic Religions, Classical Hebrew, Computer Ethics, Religion and Film
Research Areas: Second Temple Judaism (538 BCE-70 CE), Ancient Jews in Transjordan, Ethnicity, American Civil Religion
Goto Adam Porter's Homepage
Contact Adam Porter

Dr. Caryn Riswold
Assistant Professor of Religion
B. A., Augustana College, Sioux Falls
M. A. T. S., Claremont School of Theology
Th. M., Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Ph. D., Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Teaching Areas:Women & Religion, Contemporary Theology, Religion and Literature, Evil
Research Areas: Feminist Theology, Luther and Lutheran Theology, Process Theology, Pedagogy in Religion, Race and Gender Issues in Theology, Atonement and Christology
Goto Caryn Riswold's Homepage
Contact Caryn Riswold

Dr. Paul Spalding
Joel Scarborough Professor of Religion
B.A., University of Wisconsin
M. Div., M.A., Yale University
Ph.D., University of Iowa
Teaching Areas: Biblical Survey, World Religions, Religion in Modern Culture
Research Areas: Religion at the advent of modernity, particularly in Germany (1500-1815), the Enlightenment, censorship and intellectual control
Goto Paul Spalding's Homepage
Contact Paul Spalding

Publications by Department Members

Members of our department have published several books, including:

Royce Jones

John A. Laumakis

Adam L. Porter

Caryn D. Riswold

Paul Spalding

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Academic Honors and Awards

Philosophy and Religion majors are eligible for several prizes, including:

  • Goldsborough Award: to a junior or senior demonstrating breadth and depth of accomplishment in music, art, literature, science, or philosophy; competence in oral and written English required; established by family and friends of John Mark Goldsborough, 1978.

  • Fred Hoskins Christian Influence Award: To a senior in recognition of effective Christian influence on the campus; established by Mrs. Hoskins (Alice Gardner, 1929).

  • William Ireland Prize in Philosophy (Class of 1845): For the best paper on an assigned topic in philosophy.

  • Mabel Kampert Koss Memorial Award: awarded to a student finishing the sophomore or junior year and majoring in the humanities (philosophy, religion, English, foreign language, history.)

Theta Alpha Kappa, the Religion Honor Society

Religion Majors may also be considered for membership in Theta Alpha Kappa, the national honor society for students in Religion Studies/Theology. To qualify, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Junior status at Illinois College

  • Completed at least five (5) courses in religion, with at least two (2) courses at the 300-level or above (which could include HIST 358, HIST 332, HIST 333)

  • GPA of 3.5 in religion courses (which could include HIST 358, HIST 332, HIST 333)

  • GPA of 3.0 in total academic program

  • Ranked in the upper 35% of their class in general scholarship

  • Senior religion minors who have some eligible courses in progress, with very reasonable chance of completion as verified by the professor, may also be considered for induction

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Problems or questions about this web-page should be directed to Adam Porter (

Last modified, 12 Aug 2010