Major of the week, Philosophy and Religion

Philosophy and Religion majors don’t just pray all day

The University of North Dakota offers a wide range of academic opportunities. Students of every personality and background can find something they can enjoy. Simply going through the UND website can show all of the options a student has.

There, one can find the run-of-the-mill majors like marketing, communications and whatnot. Then, there are those majors where one can only wonder what it is, why it’s an option, or what the purpose of that degree is.

Today, we explore the world of majoring in philosophy and religion.

“We are not a theology department at all,” Professor Michael Beltz said. The program looks into the foundations and histories of religious texts and applies it to the surrounding culture.

“It is difficult to conceive the world we live in today without an understanding of the way religion impacts our lives,” Beltz said.

The structure of these classes are more orthodox than modern. Similar to the chapels these students are studying about, the class sizes do not see large audiences. Even the 100-level courses are roughly 30 to 40 students. Most of the classes are instructor led, but mostly focus on student-led discussion; this means very few lecturing classes, if any.

Seldom are those bubbletests used. Instead, the exams are written as though the students were the philosophers they read about.

“It’s not kept in a ‘you need to memorize these key terms’,” Beltz said. “You need to understand how an argument progresses. How evidence is used.”

Similarly to English and History majors, reading is a crucial element to the daily workload.

When looking into picking a major, a student should always consider the applicability of the major to the work force. Philosophy and Religion can be compared to a liberal arts degree focused on critical thinking and finding social and/or cultural connections.

This degree is useful for law school, running a business, or even coaching a professional basketball team. The legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson, a UND alumnus, graduated with a religion major.

This major is not about being religious or about conversion. This program is for those interested in learning how religion and philosophy are built in society, how they function together and building the skills needed for winning 10 NBA championships.

Jacob Notermann is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]