Newswise — The Augustana University Department of Religion, Philosophy and Classics is pleased to announce a $100,000 pledge for a new scholarship for philosophy majors, the Ibn Sina Scholarship. This generous gift was made by local donors who wish to remain anonymous, and who believe that philosophical education is good for business, medicine and contributes to a flourishing community.

Philosophy teaches multiple skills that are valuable across all professions. Most of Augustana’s philosophy majors are double majors and have gone on to pursue careers in medicine, dentistry, law, chemistry, physics, filmmaking, education, national security, computer science, business, journalism, pastoral ministry and many other demanding fields. 

“We have a high number of philosophy and biology double majors. A lot of those students are on the pre-med track, and that’s great because I want doctors who can think critically and think critically quickly,” said Dr. Julie Loveland Swanstrom, assistant professor of religion and philosophy.

Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna), recognized for both his influence on philosophical thinking and advancements in medical science, is a prime example of philosophical education furthering one's work in the medical and natural sciences.

The hallmarks of philosophical education are critical reasoning, logical thinking and the synthesis of information, concepts and patterns of reasoning. Philosophy demonstrates that problems often have multiple solutions and teaches students to approach problems from a number of different perspectives.    

Swanstrom said, “In both the academic study of religion and the study of philosophy, the prime thing that we’re looking for and trying to inspire in students is a rational, reflective analytical sort of thinking. Instead of simply feeling a way about something, you interrogate those feelings, you ask questions about those feelings, and instead of just guessing, you try to come up with reasons.”

Two renewable $2,000 scholarships will be awarded annually; eligibility requirements include majoring in philosophy, maintaining a 3.0 GPA within the philosophy major and cumulatively, and demonstrating outstanding philosophical ability. Students who are members of systemically non-dominant groups are encouraged to express interest in the scholarship. 

The first scholarship recipients will be named this spring, and more recipients will be named in the fall semester of 2020.

The Ibn Sina Scholarship is the newest of a number of scholarships offered to students majoring in religion, philosophy and classics at Augustana, home to South Dakota’s largest department of religion and philosophy.

Prospective students wanting to know more about courses and career opportunities are encouraged to visit or contact the Augustana Office of Admission.