Campus Events

ECU Philosophy Alums Make Their Marks in Religion

Joseph G. Wolyniak
BA in Philosophy, 2004
Episcopal Chaplain, Princeton University

Wolyniak comes to the Diocese of New Jersey after serving as Missioner for Discipleship & Theological Education in the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, where he worked in the Office of Faith Formation in support of campus ministries at several colleges and universities across the state. He was ordained to the transitional diaconate and completed his Doctorate of Philosophy in Theology from the University of Oxford in June, 2016.

Wolyniak has served in multiple chaplaincy settings, including working with undergraduates and seminarians at Duke University Chapel, graduate students and fellows at Saint John's College Chapel-Oxford, and a variety of students and staff at the multi-campus outreach of Raleigh Episcopal Campus Ministry.

Billy Atwell
BA in Philosophy, 2008
Chief Communications Officer

Billy Atwell has been appointed Chief Communications Officer for the Arlington, Virginia Diocese by Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge effective Aug. 1, 2017. He will report directly to the Office of the Bishop, serve as the diocesan spokesperson, and directly oversee the Office of Communications, the Arlington Catholic Herald, media relations, publications, and digital and social media.

Since 2014, Atwell has served as Director of Communications for the Diocese of Raleigh. Prior to that, he was Director of Communications for the Diocese of Venice, Fla., and also held positions in digital communications, program management and public policy in the Washington, D.C., area.

Pre-Law Concentration
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

The Philosophy program's new pre-law concentration allows students interested in attending law school to take classes that will provide the reasoning, analytic skills and moral grounding necessary to succeed there.

Classes in the pre-law curriculum include Philosophy of Law, Introduction to Logic, Social and Political Philosophy, and Ethics. These classes provide students with early exposure to the concepts and principles commonly taught in law school, and the skills vital to the successful practice of law. Students interested in careers as defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, or other law-related fields would benefit greatly from this concentration in philosophy.

For more information, contact the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at philreli@ecu.edu or 252-328-6112 (John Collins, philosophy program director).

Find out Why:

Philosophy is a Great Major



Philosophy is a great degree to help you get your first job. It's a fabulous degree to help you get your second, fifth, and eighth.

Most college graduates change their careers many times. But philosophy doesn't teach you one specific skill-it teaches you how to learn, how to think critically, and how to choose and flourish in whatever career you want. And if you are up for it, philosophy is an excellent double major. You don't need to do just philosophy; philosophy works with everything. Philosophy is economic stability. Philosophy is freedom.

Achievements in Undergraduate Research

Research and Creative Achievement Week, March 26 - April 2, 2018

Austin Thaxton, Religious Studies and Russian Studies double major, presented, "From the Temple of God to the Temple of the Proletariat: Iconography and the Soviet Aesthetic." His paper was the product of his study abroad in Russia during the summer of 2017, combining his interest in Russian and religious history, and was developed through an independent study course with Prof. Lee Johnson in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

Katie Chandler, Philosophy major, summarized her paper on Existentialism and the possibility of romantic love. Simone De Beauvior maintained that romantic love is possible, while Jean-Paul Sartre argued otherwise. Chandler takes Sartre's side, concluding that de Beauvior's view was inconsistent with the existentialist notion of radical freedom. The paper has been published in ECU's Journal for Undergraduate Research: The Lookout, Fall 2017


UNC Undergraduate Classics Conference, April 7, 2018

Emma McDonald

Senior philosophy major Emma McDonald presented "A Criticism of Socrates' Account of Death as Nothingness and Its Application to Manipulative Death Narratives," at UNC's Undergraduate Classics Conference.



Ethan Gaskins

Senior philosophy major Ethan Gaskins presented his paper, "Refuting Socrates' Theory of Recollection," at this year's UNC Undergraduate Classics Conference.

Students at UNC Classics Conference

Doctor John Collins with Philosophy students Emma McDonald, Ethan Gaskins and Jameson Doub at the UNC Classics Conference in Chapel Hill.

Alexandra Nolte

December 2017 graduate Alex Nolte spoke at a meeting of the North Carolina Philosophical Society, at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina on March 23-24. Her paper was entitled: "An Evidentialist Defense of Reasonable Religious Disagreement."



Katie Chandler

Senior philosophy major Katie Chandler published her paper, "An Analysis of Existentialism and the Possibility of Romantic Love," in ECU's Journal for Undergraduate Research: The Lookout, Fall 2017 pp. 81-92 (virtual p. 86).



Shayan Nik Akhtar

Senior philosophy major Shayan Nik Akhtar published his senior honors thesis in Apeiron: Student Journal of Philosophy Volume 9: "The Privation Theory of Moral Evil and Hick's Soul-Making Theodicy."





How many millions of dollars did this former philosophy student recently donate to his old department?

"Philosophy," he said, "has made a huge difference both to my life outside business, in terms of adding a great degree of richness and knowledge, and to the actual decisions I've made in investing."

What Can You Do With a Philosophy Degree?

Reisman says that when it comes to complex issues, the abstract and systematic thinking he developed in his philosophy courses helped him make important decisions. "A lot of what we do here at NASA is deciding which new ideas should be [carried forward]," he explains, "and there are all kinds of questions we have to consider. If you choose the wrong thing, the government loses tens of billions of dollars in investment.

"A philosophy major will prepare you for so many aspects of life, not just work, but issues of life and death-if you do it right," he says. " What I would say is get the philosophy degree for your life."