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Philosophy & Religion

Rev. Kirk Hall '90 in classroom.

 

moral, spiritual
and ethical development

At Salisbury School, we believe the moral, spiritual and ethical maturation of a person develops over a lifetime but begins to fully blossom for adolescent males in their middle to late teen years. As a way for you to approach the religious, philosophical, and ethical voices that continue to shape the global context in the 21st century, the Philosophy and Religion Department offers trimester classes designed to coincide with your development through your fourth, fifth and sixth form years. Each course is offered in the spirit of inquiry, along with a positive affirmation of the Judeo-Christian tradition as it supports the educational philosophy and communal life of Salisbury School. Our goal is not only expose you to the varied voices and complex systems that continue to shape the world around us, but also to offer the tools to develop your own ethical, moral, and spiritual landscape.

Courses in the Philosophy and Religion Department explore the religious, ethical and philosophical voices that continue to shape our global context. Students begin this process in their fourth form year with the study of religion and its various manifestations through a survey course on the world’s major religions. During their fifth form year, students move deeper into the abstract and often complex conversations through one of the various electives in the study of philosophy. Finally, during their sixth form year, students will apply the moral and philosophical principles through one of the various electives in the study of ethics. As each course meets the students where they are, there are no prerequisites for these classes. Three to four year students must complete at least three trimesters of Philosophy and Religion at Salisbury in order to graduate. Incoming fifth and sixth formers must complete a trimester of the respective section each year they attend Salisbury.  

Philosophy & Religion Offerings At Salisbury:

Fourth Form

P446 WORLD RELIGIONS  

As an introduction to the study of Philosophy and Religion, this course will introduce fourth formers to religion as a human response to the sacred. Students will explore how various global traditions approach myth, stories, symbols, rituals, ideals and ethical practices as a way to live and die in a meaningful way. This introduction will provide a framework through which students can reflect on their own experiences, as well as prepare them for further exploration, spiritual engagement and study. Traditions include Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. 

 

Fifth Form Electives

P445 INTRODUCTION to PHILOSOPHY  

The ancient Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle put down a foundation of philosophical thought. This course will start the journey there and travel through the intervening centuries to modern day thinkers like John Rawls, Ruth Benedict and A.J. Ayer. In between we will discover great minds and their widely varying thoughts regarding the proper conduct of life and its deeper meaning. 

P447 THE OUTSIDER – GENESIS and BEYOND  

In a world that grows more connected and at the same time more divided, this course investigates the ethical implications of the concept of “The Outsider” including issues of human rights, justice and unity. We begin with stories found in the book of Genesis illustrating these themes. Films, essays, contemporary issues are introduced as well. Class conversations and our own experiences draw us to a closer understanding of the complexity of division, separation and ultimately alienation.  Projects and conversations are important to the discovery process.   

P442AB THE ANATOMY of BLISS 


What is happiness and how is it achieved? This class will explore different conceptions of the idea and concepts of “happiness” as demonstrated by philosophers, rulers, historians, psychologists, religious figures and novelists: ancient and modern. It will begin with a look into the early religions of Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism and what they considered to be the ultimate meaning of life, how it’s attained and its relation to happiness.  

Sixth Form Electives

P448 ECOLOGY and ETHICS  

This course offers students an ethical framework in the study of ecology and the role of humans as inhabitants and caretakers. Beginning with the biblical creation narratives, we move quickly to contemporary issues surrounding our relationship to the earth. Students will select a topic of contemporary concern and produce a carefully researched presentation. Films, articles, and outside speakers are also important for consideration and active discussion. 

P447EQ ESSE QUAM VIDERI 


“To Be Rather Than Seem To Be” - Our School motto leads this study. In combination with the many ways these words are emphasized and modeled on campus, we consider core values as we view films, essays, and current events. We begin with early stories from the bible and follow with other sources of people whose lives have been of interest because of their particular journey on the path of becoming “whole.”  Study of people such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Oskar Schindler help to illustrate sacrifice and courage in the expression of conviction. 

P449RI RADICAL INCLUSION: SOCIAL JUSTICE ETHICS in the GOSPEL OF LUKE for TODAY 


The focus of this course is on Luke’s gospel, as it places a particular emphasis on social justice. The focus on Jesus' practice of Radical Inclusion – that is, his specific mission to uplift those members of his society who were more subject to injustice and marginalization. Through a close reading of the text, students will develop a profile of Jesus’ ethical worldview, and this profile will be used as a jumping off point for exploring recent historical and contemporary social justice issues. In this way, the course is driven by the students’ interest, interpretation, and understanding. Topics studied in past trimesters include mass incarceration, voting rights, Japanese internment during WWII, and unconscious bias. The class is heavily project-based, with weekly short writing assignments.  

The academic life at Salisbury is motivating. The teachers, coaches, and mentors at Salisbury are exceptional. They bring passion and expertise into their intimate classroom settings. Collaboration, innovation, problem solving, creativity, and civic responsibility are just some of the principles that guide Salisbury School’s educational model. Most importantly, these men and women partner with you each day and always with the highest expectations. 
Dean of Academic Life Sarah Mulrooney

A Glimpse At Just Two Of Our Offerings:

WORLD RELIGIONS

As an introduction to the study of Philosophy and Religion, this course will introduce fourth formers to religion as a human response to the sacred. Students will explore how various global traditions approach myth, stories, symbols, rituals, ideals and ethical practices as a way to live and die in a meaningful way. This introduction will provide a framework through which students can reflect on their own experiences, as well as prepare them for further exploration, spiritual engagement and study. Traditions include: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

THE OUTSIDER – GENESIS AND BEYOND

In a world that grows more connected and, at the same time, more divided, this course will investigate the ethical implications of the “outsider” and issues of justice, human rights and radical solidarity. Engaging in this conversation with a critical look at the book of Genesis and the motif of the “outsider,” this class will look to scholarship, film and contemporary events that can bring to light the complex reality that creates division, separation and (ultimately) alienation. Students will also have the opportunity to research topics of their own choice for more in depth learning.