Philosophy & Religion

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Our Students

Kelsey Rick
English and Philosophy double major, Anthropology minor

"Coming into Drake I was a little unsure of what it would be like to major in Philosophy, something I no previous experience with. However, I’ve found that I quite enjoy exploring different ideas about reality and existence. The professors in the department have not only been fun and helpful, but have pushed me expand my thoughts way beyond whatever I had previously thought possible. My ability to assess problems through critical analysis or by thinking outside the typical process have grown extraordinarily. The department of Philosophy and Religion has allowed me many opportunities whether it be through studying abroad or preparing me for future opportunities. I can’t thank them enough for the skills I’ve learned that will prove useful for the rest of my life."


Caroline Hempleman
Drake University | May 2019
Sociology/Anthropology, Religion, & French
President- Drake Outdoor Leadership Club
President- Engaging the Spectrum

 "Although I had not originally intended to study religion, it has always been a subject that interested me. When I started taking religion courses I realized how important the content was to understanding why religion is significant to people all over the world, and how having an understanding of world religions can fit into all facets of life. The courses and professors here have challenged me and required me to think more critically about how religion is completely tied in with our understanding of the world, which has allowed me to better communicate with people of all backgrounds."



Carmine Morrow
B.A. in Philosophy and Politics, 2010

"Like Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole, philosophy at Drake prepared me to fall into and accept the unknown that is life after graduation. As Alice put it, “Well, after such a fall like this I should think nothing of tumbling down the stairs! Why, I wouldn’t say anything about it even if I fell off the roof of the house!” Indeed, after delving into Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Hume, and Heidegger, and thereby philosophically falling on my face a few times, as you do, I found myself leaping from consecutively higher cliffs of career possibilities without feeling unprepared in the least for the learning curves, slumps and pit falls inevitable therein.

After I spent a year abroad, studying and working with asylum seekers through Amnesty International Australia, I returned to Drake having fallen out of the certainty that I’d had for my previous law school track. After graduating, I fell into further uncertainty by taking an English teaching position at a university in western China. How was I going to explain our language and culture to our ambitious peers on the rise across the Pacific, the Chinese youth, while likewise trying to absorb their language and culture? Well, I certainly did not know, but I did it. After teaching English, I decided to stay in China to acquire a M.A. degree in philosophy at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Presently I am—not yet replete with philosophy or China—pursuing a PhD in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago. After I graduate, I have no idea what I’ll be doing. I know I’ll be ready for it, though. To steal a line from the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi, “you may have heard of using the wit to know, but have you heard yet of using not-knowing to know?”


David Mascharka
B.S. in Computer Science, Mathematics; B.A. in Philosophy, 2017

"My path through the philosophy program at Drake is probably a bit less traditional than most. I added philosophy both as a complement to the computer science and math majors that I was pursuing at Drake and out of pure interest in the subject-matter. After graduating, I took a position at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where I do machine learning research, focusing on computer vision. My current work spans the range from building systems that reason about the contents of images in order to answer questions about them to developing teams of fully-autonomous UAVs.

While unrelated in theory to my coursework in philosophy, I constantly find interplay between my research pursuits and my philosophical interests. Specifically, I'm interested in the philosophical intersection of computers, especially autonomous and semi-autonomous systems, and society. The environment at Drake and the interests and passion of all the professors in the philosophy department gave me the freedom to begin exploring these topics during my undergraduate years and the philosophical foundations and necessary skills to continue developing post-graduation."


Patricia Thornton
B.A. Philosophy, 2013

"After receiving my BA in philosophy and politics in May 2013 from Drake, I worked for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Des Moines. In August 2016 I started the MA program in philosophy at University of Houston. At UH I focused on metaethics, the reactive attitudes, and moral psychology and motivation. I graduated from UH's MA program in May 2018. I currently I teach philosophy courses at Lone Star College and University of Houston's Downtown campus. I plan to apply to PhD programs in philosophy for Fall 2019 admission."


John Noble

"Drake University's department of Religion and Philosophy set me on a path of discovery that continues to this day. Through courses dealing with social ethics, meaning-making, social justice, and interfaith encounter, I learned that a degree in religion is a gift in learning how to approach the sacred, one's neighbor, and the complicated world we live in. 

Through this department, I took classes that transformed my life's trajectory. Dr. Jennifer Harvey's mentorship and Liberation Theologies course inspired my current work, pursuing a Master of Divinity at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. As an aspiring Catholic historian, it was this course that inspired my current research into post-Vatican II Catholic movements for justice across the world.

Through philosophy of religion classes with Dr. Leah Kalmanson and an immersive interfaith project with Dr. Tim Knepper where I had the opportunity to meet and engage with my Muslim neighbors in Des Moines, I also learned how to expand my view of religiosity and work towards building what Pope Francis calls a "culture of encounter." The Religion and Philosophy department made me a better student, a better Catholic, and a better interfaith neighbor."


Arthur Robert Obst

"I entered Drake as an English major; I knew I was good at writing, and I didn’t know much else. But in high school I was lucky enough to have taken a few philosophy classes that had piqued my interest, so I decided there was no harm in signing up for Introduction to Philosophy. Credits are credits, right?

As you might expect, I found my first philosophy class engaging, and so—naturally—I decided to take more. Next, I took Introduction to Ethics with Jennifer McCrickered, who would become my advisor and a significant influence on my life, and I found that ethics was not as unanswerable—or simple—as I might have first expected. I kept taking philosophy classes, and eventually a professor of mine suggested I apply to graduate school in philosophy—before I had even declared as a major.

Eventually, I took their advice; I declared as a major, and now I’m in graduate school at the University of Washington working with the very philosophers that I once read star-eyed as an undergraduate. And, despite its small size, I’ve found my education at Drake to have intellectually and personally prepared me to engage with renowned figures in the field of philosophy.

I am now studying environmental ethics with Stephen Gardiner, a major thinker in the area. In my work, I seek to understand our personal and collective ethical obligations to fight climate change; yet, at the same time, I attempt to engage with other academic departments (atmospheric science, ecology, political science, economics, etc.) in an attempt to understand and influence their individual approaches to solving our current climate crisis." 


Tierney Grisolano - 2019

"I never intended to get a Religion major from Drake. My original major was Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology. However, after taking one course the Spring semester of my freshman year, and after being involved in a large, culturally and religiously-oriented community project through Drake, I became so passionate for religious studies and cultural knowledge that I decided to double major in BCMB and Religion. The plethora of opportunities Drake allowed me to experience all cultures and meet a variety of unique and inspiring peoples. I look forward to applying my knowledge of religions and cultures to my well-rounded education while working on receiving acceptance to an MD-PhD combined program."



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