PHRE department proposes B.S. in philosophy and religion

A proposal for a new Bachelor of Science in philosophy and religion was presented to the Undergraduate Council at last month’s meeting. This program has previously only been offered as a Bachelor of Arts.

Chad Mohler, philosophy and religion professor, said he and other faculty within the major have been discussing this proposal for about a year and a half. Mohler was involved in the writing of the initial proposal and recently presented it to the Undergraduate Council. He said they received constructive feedback from the council, and overall faculty response has been mostly favorable. Mohler said preliminary approval of the plans will take a minimum of four months. The council still needs to discuss the proposal and vote on it before sending it to Faculty Senate for further discussion and approval.

   Mohler said the new program is an attempt to attract more students to the philosophy and religion major, as well as offer more opportunities to current students within the major.

“It’s a degree that, for one, might appeal to our current majors who may be more inclined towards STEM fields,” Mohler said.

Mohler also said this new program would make it easier for students already pursuing a Bachelor of Science to add philosophy and religion as a major.

Undergraduate Council Chair Justin Jarvis said he and the council are always excited for new program proposals that might be beneficial to students.

“I think that all of us are pretty understanding and convinced that a B.S. in philosophy and religion might actually be useful for some students who might either want to have a B.S. or, furthermore, would like to add it as a double major,” said Jarvis.

However, Jarvis said the council also had some concerns with the new proposal. Some council members asked if the philosophy and religion major really fits the Bachelor of Science degree or if it is better suited as just a Bachelor of Arts.

Jarvis said the council was also concerned about the Bachelor of Science requirement courses listed in the proposal major. The council said they did not think they were rigorous enough in terms of math and science. Jarvis said the philosophy and religion department is working to make the necessary changes to the course list and re-submit the proposal to the Undergraduate Council.  

Despite concerns, Jarvis said the proposal looks promising moving forward and thinks it fits into Truman’s liberal arts and sciences mission.

Besides a Bachelor of Science requiring more science and math courses, one of the main differences between a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts is the foreign language requirement. A Bachelor of Science requires only one year of language while a Bachelor of Arts requires two years. Lucy Lee, Classical and Modern Languages Department chair, said she thinks there will always be philosophy and religion students who will prefer a Bachelor of Arts as opposed to a Bachelor of Science; particularly those pursuing graduate studies in the major who will benefit from advanced language study. She said she thinks the Philosophy and Religion Department is doing what they think is best for their department and its students by offering a program for stronger quantitative preparation, and she does not think the proposed Bachelor of Science will affect her department.  

“This situation already exists in many fields,” Lee said. “With science we have B.A. degrees, with humanities areas we have B.S. degrees already, and it doesn’t take away anything, I think, from the importance of having a language to provide more tools to use in the future, and a deeper cultural as well as linguistic understanding that comes with more language study.”