Philosophy and Religion Arranges and Co-Sponsors Major Lecture
The Department of Philosophy and Religion arranged and is co-sponsored with the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science "Mathematics for Human Flourishing," a lecture by Dr. Francis Su, on Thursday, October 20, Dr. Su’s lecture drew on his book, Mathematics for Human Flourishing, published by Yale University Press, which won the 2021 Euler Book Prize from the Mathematical Association of America.
Professor Su exhibited how math is more than just a way to describe the world and is more than just a set of skills, like doing arithmetic or factoring a quadratic equation. Rather, math is a deeply human enterprise that fulfills basic human longings, such as for beauty and truth; when properly engaged, it builds virtues like persistence, creativity, and a competence to solve problems you've never seen before. The deep connection between mathematics and human desires shows why people in every culture around the globe do mathematics, not just to build things and conduct commerce, but for enjoyment and exploration. An incarcerated man—now Dr. Su’s friend—has helped him see this more clearly than ever before.
Approximately 75 persons attended the lecture, the large majority consisting of students. A time for questions from the audience followed the lecture. Afterwards Professor Su commented on what good questions our students asked, noting that their questions were more insightful than those of students from most of the other universities where he has spoken. Dr. Su visited four classes during his stay, two in Philosophy and two in Mathematics, where he and students engaged in lively conversation.
Francis Su is the Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College and a former president of the Mathematical Association of America. In 2013, he received the Haimo Award, a nationwide teaching prize for college math faculty, and in 2018 he won the Halmos-Ford writing award. His research in geometric combinatorics includes many papers co-authored with undergraduates. His work has been featured in Quanta Magazine, Wired, and the New York Times.
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Philosophy and Religion Hosts Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Religious Studies Association
The Department of Philosophy and Religion is hosting the 2022 Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Religious Studies Association on Saturday, October 29, being the first in-person meeting since the COVID pandemic began. Professor Motti Inbari, President of the NCRSA, and Chair David Nikkel made the arrangements for hosting this event. Professors of Religion Ray Sutherland, Motti Inbari, and David Nikkel and professors of History Charles Beam and James Hudson are presenting papers.
Congratulations Spring, 2023 Graduates!
Philosophy and Religion Majors Adrienne Best and Joshua Lewis graduated this Spring, Adrienne with Honors College distinction and Joshua summa cum laude. Adrienne will pursue a Master of Divinity degree at Duke University Divinity School, while Joshua will pursue a Master of Arts in Theology Studies at Moravian Theological Seminary, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The Department sponsors the UNCP Chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa--The National Honor Society for Religious Studies/Theology for qualified students. It is open to any student taking four or more courses in Religion and achieving a high Grade Point Average, not just to those majoring or minoring in Religion. Since its founding in 2005, our Chapter has inducted 52 students. Congratulations to Philosophy and Religion Majors Adrienne Best, Tikhon (Andrew) Bryan , and Julia Colborn who were inducted into TAK Spring, 2023!
Julia Colborn, a Philosophy and Religion Major, has been selected as a REACH (Research. Engagement. Action. Community. Humanities.) Fellow for the academic year 2022-2023. Her research topic is Jewish Feminist Philosophy.
Johannah Ries, a student in Religion, Art, and Culture--Writing Enriched, had her essay entitled, "Depictions of Emotion in Byzantine Art," published in ReVisions: Best Student Essays of UNCP. Byzantine icons are paintings of holy persons for the Eastern Orthodox Church. The four icons Johannah explains in her article are in her home. This represented the tenth essay published in ReVisions from a Philosophy or Religion course over the past seven years.
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Robert Bass, is the winner of the American Philosophical Association's 2022 Journal of Value Inquiry Prize for the best unpublished, article-length work in philosophy by a philosopher without a full-time academic affiliation. His essay is entitled, "Divine Command Theory without a Commander." The award comes with a cash prize.
Field Trip to Religious Worship Sites left strong impressions
The Department of Philosophy and Religion at UNC Pembroke had a unique event take place Spring Semester, 2017, about forty students and four faculty members went together on a field trip to visit places of worship in Fayetteville NC. Dr. David Nikkel, the chair of the department, explained that our department wanted to give our majors, minors, and students taking courses in Religion a direct experience of religious practice through visiting worship sites and services. “It’s good to read and hear about religions and to watch videos. But it takes things to another level to view in person a religious site, to directly experience a religious ceremony, and to ask questions of religious believers and leaders, and our students did ask a lot of questions.” said Dr. Nikkel.
Our first stop was at Masjid Omar Ibn Sayyid, a mosque that serves mostly African-American Muslims in the Fayetteville area. We came to attend the Jumu’ah, the congregational Friday prayer, and we had the opportunity to speak with Imam Bobby Ahmed, the spiritual leader, who spoke about the Islamic value of civility.
From there we continued the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, where we were welcomed by Father Alexander, who spoke about the history of the Greek Orthodox Church and explained about the meanings of the beautiful icons on the walls of the church.
After a short stop for dinner, we visited the Hindu Bhavan Temple. During a short conversation with two members of the congregation, we learned about the inclusive values of Hinduism. Later we attended a Puja, a ritual service, where faculty and students were offered the opportunity to give offerings to the Hindu Gods.
We ended up at Jewish Beth Israel Congregation to participate in Kabalat Shabbat. Friday evening services are welcoming the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest, and we had the opportunity to join in prayer with the community. At the entrance to the synagogue, we all put Kippot on our heads, in respect of place, as you can see in the pictures.
Logan John, who majors in Philosophy and Religion, said that “my experiences with Jewish songs, Islamic Sallah, Hindu Puja, and Greek Orthodox iconography left me wanting to do more field work. I hope this is an experience the Philosophy and Religion Department is able to provide for years to come.” Kasi Mae Breon, another major of the department, observed that the field trip was enjoyable and educational. “It was a calming experience that will not be forgotten. Overall, I felt that the leaders from each worship site gave a message about offering inclusiveness to other faiths, which I feel is an important issue for our society today,” she said.
On behalf of the faculty of the Department of Philosophy and Religion, we warmly thank the office of the Dean of Arts and Science, the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and the Friends of the Library who helped cover the costs of the trip.