Intellectual and Spiritual Growth
The study of Religion and Philosophy is uplifting and challenging. You will find yourself in a sustained dialogue with some of the best minds in history cross-culturally and find yourself drawn into a more profound level of thought than perhaps you knew you were capable of. It is exciting and interesting spiritually as well as intellectually. Not only are the ideas worth considering intellectually, they actually move us, deepen and broaden us, enrich us. A major should be one that engages you and that you find meaningful. Only then will you find the motivation to work as hard and as well as you need to in order to do well in college.*
Integration of Knowledge
The study of Religion and Philosophy is interdisciplinary in an important sense. Both Religion and Philosophy are not simply disciplines among the other disciplines. They are meta-disciplines, which must take into account the ideas and directions of all the other disciplines, indeed all of the culture. In this sort of study, one gains a very broad grasp of knowledge and culture. Plenty of people have acquired a specialist's knowledge in a particular discipline, and there is a need for that. But specialization can lead to, and has led to, a fragmentation of knowledge. A growing number of voices have decried the fact that education has become increasingly fragmented, which leaves people with a more disjointed and impoverished understanding of themselves and their world.
A 1991 education report notes the specialization and isolation of the academic disciplines and calls for students to "develop the capabilities to enter, negotiate, and make connections across communities of discourse both within and without the academy." This report notes the profound lack of integration in education and in the culture. An important way that we make something meaningful is by integrating it into a larger context. So, we also need an overall knowledge of ideas and of the shape and direction of the culture, transcending the narrowness of intellectual specialization. In the end, all of our specialized knowledge must be integrated into a world view in order to make sense. And that world view either succeeds or fails to support faith, the overarching feeling that our lives and efforts are meaningful and purposeful in light of Ultimate Reality. Studying Religion and Philosophy is central to working out this needed integration of knowledge.
* The Challenge of Connected Learning, In Volume I of Liberal Learning and the Arts and Sciences Major (Washington, D.C.: The Association of American Colleges, 1991), p.14. [Note: the organization's name is now The Association of American Colleges and Universities.]