Emilie Anderson (19) didn’t always know she was a philosopher. She wasn’t aware of that until her sophomore year at PLNU, when she attended a general philosophy class.
“I had never been exposed to philosophy before, and it’s sort of like learning a new language where you’re like, ‘I don’t know really what they’re saying but this is also really fascinating,’” Anderson said of her early years in PLNU’s School of Theology and Christian Ministry. She had been undeclared for the three semesters of her time at PLNU, but with some help from Heather Ross, associate professor of philosophy, Anderson declared philosophy as her major. All it took was “someone being like ‘you’re really good at this very ambiguous thing.’”
“I had never been exposed to philosophy before, and it’s sort of like learning a new language where you’re like, ‘I don’t know really what they’re saying but this is also really fascinating.'”
“People, especially when I was in school, would ask me, ‘Why are you doing philosophy?’ and my answer was always, ‘it’s teaching me how to be a good person.’ I think being good at philosophy is taking that task seriously,” Anderson said. With the philosophy department under the same roof as the School of Theology and Christian Ministry, Anderson got to interact with the students in those majors as well.
“When the task at hand is, ‘What is good?’ — to me that seems inherently connected to the question of God.” About her time in the philosophy department, Anderson said, “We had the opportunity for a lot of fluidity in that and were guided in a lot of the questions I would have about spirituality and Christianity but also was given a ton of room to develop myself in those ways. It was cool to have a professor within the department who could answer very specialized questions I had.”
The small size of the philosophy department really worked in Anderson’s favor as she was able to dive in and explore the topics that caught her interest. “I had the opportunity to do multiple directed studies because if I liked something, professors were like, ‘Great! Let’s fine-tune that skill then, if that’s what you want to do,’” Anderson said. “I don’t know a lot of other places or even departments that have that sort of flexibility or attention to the strengths of their students.”