Campus Events

Philosophy and Religious Studies

Mira Sampath wins the Wright Leadership Award

Achievements in Student 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

Dr. 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."

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.

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."

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 or 252-328-6112 (John Collins, philosophy program director).

Katie Chandler will graduate in May as a quadruple major in History, Philosophy, Great Books, and Religious Studies.

Katie Chandler

As a freshman, Chandler was a history major. She took advantage of the Italy Intensives Program and discovered an interest for philosophy. The summer after her freshman year she studied abroad in South Africa and confirmed her love for philosophy, adding it as a second major.

During her sophomore year she was able to study abroad in India and found a passion in Eastern religion, later adding religious studies as a third major.

Contributed by Katie Chandler

Last semester, Chandler added great books as a major after interviewing Dr. Helena Feder, ECU's director of the great books program, about women in academia for a history assignment.

Chandler said that studying abroad really made her connect and appreciate her education because it is something that's taken for granted in America. Her mom is a big reason she's travelled so much because she is always so supportive.

Because of her many trips abroad, she was a global ambassador for two years at The International House, ECU's headquarters for international affairs. She loved it because she helped students find the right study abroad program for them and scholarships to pay for it.

She said studying abroad with four majors hasn't put her behind because each trip allowed her to take classes that counted towards each degree. In addition to her studies, Chandler is president of Phi Sigma Tau philosophy honor society, president of the Great Books and English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta and historian of the history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta.

She wakes up every day at 5:30 a.m. to start her day at the gym and is motivated to go to class, work, and club meetings throughout the day. "I really rely on the energy I get from the gym," Chandler says.

Last year she was co-chair of the Dean's Student Leadership Council in Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences where she served as representative for the philosophy and religious studies department. A professor nominates a student to be on the council and every department has a representative.

"We all represent the interests of our departments from a student perspective," she said.

Chandler says that over the years her time management skills have progressed. As a leader in numerous clubs, she is also a philosophy and religion tutor at the Pirate Academic Success Center.

"I like to see the different ways people learn," she said. "The students are so helpful."

Chandler said she would love to become a professor teaching Eastern Religions, specifically Hinduism and for now is focusing on applying to graduate school.

Author: Bre Lewis Katie's Pirate Profile

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.