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    American University
    Jun 23, 2024  
American University Catalog 2019-2020 
American University Catalog 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Philosophy and Religion


Chair  Ellen K. Feder

Full-Time Faculty

William Fraser McDowell Professor  E.K. Feder
Professor Emeritus  C.D. Hardwick, J.H. Reiman, C.S.J. White
Professor  G. Greenberg, J. Park
Associate Professor Emeritus  D.F.T. Rodier, P.H. Scribner
Associate Professor  E. Berry, F. Erfani,  A. Oliver, S. Pathak, A. Tschemplik
Assistant Professor  A. Ferrin, L. Weis, O. Woodbine, P. Zurn
Senior Professorial Lecturer  M. Oliver
Professorial Lecturer  C. Bassiri, K. Cratsley, N. Liebow
Visiting Associate Professor  A. Simpson

Department Overview

Philosophy explores the nature of the world, the basis of human values, and the foundations of reason. Philosophy also offers the challenge of interpreting the work of thinkers who have created our intellectual traditions.

The study of philosophy provides excellent preparation for law, medicine, social work, ministry, and other professional careers. Many positions in science and industry require the kinds of analytical skills gained through the study of philosophy. Philosophy teaches precision in reasoning and clarity in expression-assets in any field. Alumni of the Philosophy (BA)  and Philosophy (MA)  programs have pursued graduate work in philosophy and related areas such as political science, psychology, history, and literature, as well as other professional programs.

The Religious Studies (BA)  introduces students to a major influence on all civilizations. Journalists, diplomats, and government specialists benefit from a serious consideration of the inner workings of the religious ethos of civilizations. Daily events remind us that there is no more motivating factor in the cultures of nations than ardently held religious belief. A thorough understanding of the modern world requires familiarity with its religious heritage. American University’s Washington, DC setting is advantageous for the study of religion, with national offices and centers for many religions in the metropolitan area. The Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area also offers a variety of courses in philosophy and religion that are available to American University students.

The Department of Philosophy and Religion annually awards the Col. Harold and Ruth Pearson Prize in Philosophy to one or more majors who have demonstrated excellence in the study of philosophy. The Donald Kane Prize is awarded annually for the best essay written in a religion course. The Philosophy and Social Justice prize is awarded annually for an undergraduate paper or project that affirms the value of philosophy to engaging barriers to social justice.


    Major Program (UG)Minor (UG)Certificate (UG)Master’s Program (GR)