About Us

Our department offers two separate and independent programs: (1) the philosophy program and (2) the religious studies program. Students can complete a major or minor in philosophy. They can also take philosophy or religious studies courses as electives.

About Philosophy

“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

—T.S. Eliot

Never before have human beings known so many facts. Never before have so many of those facts been within easy reach—there at a touch on every smartphone or tablet. But what do all those facts mean? What assumptions are they based on and are these justified?  Which facts are most important? Why are they important? How can we even know what a fact is? And once we do know a fact, what, if anything, are we obligated to do about it?

Those are some questions philosophy asks, and they are just as unavoidable today as they were when the ancient Greeks invented the word filosofia, meaning “love of wisdom.” Without philosophy, we might have a growing knowledge of facts, but we would have no understanding of their significance, no wisdom for dealing with them at the highest human level. And indeed, reflective people do philosophy as part of their everyday lives, whether they know it or not. Even someone who argues, after careful thought, that “philosophy is worthless” has a philosophical reason for holding that view. In short, philosophy is the discipline where we stop and think about the most important things in life.

At VIU, philosophers in the classroom strive to “stop and think” at the highest possible level.  These philosophers include:

  • great philosophers of history (Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, …) as well as leading academic minds at work today (Singer, Taylor, Kripke, …).  We read them, study them, and learn from them.

  • VIU faculty.  Members of the department are both philosophers, who have done work in the field, and teachers, who are committed to helping students.

  • VIU students (including you!).  Classes are for discussion, not just for lectures, so everybody gets a chance to contribute to a greater understanding of philosophical questions.

If you are interested in developing your mind, then you will find yourself at home in our philosophy department.

Please email to let us know if you'd like to join the philosophy email distribution list. This way, you can be informed of upcoming symposiums, guest lectures, and social gatherings, as well as news of interest to philosophers. You may unsubscribe at any time, by contacting us through the same philosophy email address.

About Religious Studies

Religious studies fosters knowledge and critical thinking about religious teachings, practices, and texts, as well as an appreciation for the role of religion in the lives of believers. The discipline examines many facets of religious traditions—Western, Eastern, Aboriginal, or emerging—from a neutral viewpoint. All religious traditions are taken seriously and sympathetically as important factors in world history, in human society, and in the lives of many people; at the same time, all are subject to critical thinking, as with any other academic subject.

Religious studies courses examine the ideas about God, gods, or other concepts of sacred reality which are central to religious beliefs. They also study the human responses to those concepts, including ethical teachings, forms of worship, sacred interactions, and communities formed around religious traditions.