Jots and Tittles (vol. 5, no. 1)


January 2022

The Times, They Are A-Changin'


When the new year arrived the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies felt like a different place. Recent months have seen our colleagues, Dr. Glen Martin and Dr. Kay Jordan retire from the university. They both arrived in the 1980s and they each, as you can imagine, left a big imprint on this department. Though they will be missed, we nonetheless wish them well-deserved happiness in retirement.

Student Spotlight


Jots and Tittles caught up over email with Amber Funderburg—a PHRE major concentrating in Religious Studies—to learn about her experiences studying in the department.

What attracted you to the philosophy and religious studies major?

Upon my return to Radford, I made the commitment to take one “fun” class every semester to explore other interests and broaden my perspective. Each semester, I was drawn to classes offered by the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department. Eventually, I was taking so many “elective” religion classes that it only made sense to declare a major in religious studies!

How has taking philosophy and religious studies courses benefited you?

Taking philosophy and religious studies courses has given me the opportunity to understand people and the world from a different perspective. Growing up in a fairly conservative Christian household, I wasn't exposed to many different religious or spiritual beliefs. Religious studies courses have allowed me to learn about different religious perspectives and their impact on the societies they flourish in.

Which classes have been among your favorites?

That’s such a hard question! I have genuinely loved every philosophy/religious studies course I've enrolled in. The first was Death and Dying, but I loved my Religion and Women class as well as my American Cults class. Truly every class in this department has left a lasting impact on the way I view people and the world at large.

What do you plan to do after college?

I plan on applying to graduate school to continue studying American culture, specifically focusing on how music and religion shape and influence the societies they exist in. My long-term professional goal is to become a college professor/scholar.

Why should students consider a major or minor in philosophy and religious studies?

I truly believe that every college student should experience at least one philosophy or religion studies course in their college career. A minor/ major in philosophy and religious studies allows you to explore interesting topics and different kinds of beliefs and schools of thought. These courses have both helped me understand the world better, and grow into a better citizen and member of society.

PHRE thanks Amber for reflecting on her experiences in the department and sharing them with the Highlander family. If you have stories or insights about the ways that PHRE has impacted your life, reach out to Dr. Paul Thomas and let us know! 

Faculty Spotlight on Research


In June 2021, Peace Pentagon Press (an imprint of Oracle Institute Press) published Design for a Living Planet: The Earth Constitution Solution by philosophy professor Dr. Glen T. Martin. Dr. Martin and his publisher have graciously provided the following talking points about the book’s message and his broader research agenda.

What is the main message of the book Design for a Living Planet?

We must recognize and integrate the reality that Earth and all her inhabitants are parts within a whole living planet. The book examines the nexus between climate science, sustainable economics and conscious evolution as understood by cuttingedge scientists and sociologists. It also addresses theoretical possibilities for human growth and a paradigm shift from fragmentation to holism. It stresses that adopting Systems Theory is critical to our survival and the flourishing of Earth's ecosystems.


What is required to make this shift to holism?

Top environmentalists and sustainable economists agree: We need a well-designed plan for Earth to track where we are and where we need to go. The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals will not get us there because they can’t be achieved under the current system of sovereign, lawless nation-states.

Why do we need an Earth Constitution?

We need a comprehensive, sustainable, and regenerative design in order to survive and flourish beyond the present century. The Earth Constitution recognizes that the necessary transformation requires institutional, economic, political, psychological, and spiritual change. The ratification of the Earth Constitution is the key step to this higher level of existence and wisdom.

What is the Earth Constitution, exactly?

It is a holistic and unifying document that enables us to adopt a planetary consciousness as World Citizens, thereby effectively solving global problems. It will help us empower the people of Earth to democratically elect a World Parliament comprised of people from 1,000 world districts. 

When was the Earth Constitution first conceptualized?

After World War II, an esteemed group of scholars and jurists designed the Earth Constitution as a holistic solution for the global crises we face: climate change, war, inequality, and injustice. The United Nations tries, but it cannot solve these crises. The Earth Constitution offers a solution that works for all.

Do we have a future of Planet Earth?

The honest answer is “maybe.” We likely will not survive the current Sixth Great Extinction if we continue to make irrational decisions based on an antiquated reductionist worldview defined by nation-state sovereignty. In reality, our living planet is an integrated, interdependent, and holarchical system. Our future depends on accepting this reality and consciously evolving to the next phase of our collective journey.

Do you offer hope to your readers?

Absolutely. The book shows how and why we can manifest a glorious future by integrating the serious spiritual and moral awakening required on the part of humanity.

Dr. Martin has received several international peace awards, including the Gusi Peace Prize International in Manila, Philippines (2013). He has published hundreds of articles concerning freedom, peace, justice, human rights, and sustainability in popular as well as academic venues, and he is the author or editor of a dozen books.


PHRE ambassador DeAngelo Nichols representing PHRE at a university open house.


By now you are likely aware of REAL, the university's new general education program.

PHRE worked hard to position ourselves in the new general education program as a premiere choice for E (artistic and humanistic expression) programs. Since last year's launch, our programs have received strong interest from students looking to complete the E requirement of their general education.

All of our programs, the major and the minor, have earned an "E" designation. This includes the Philosophy and Religious Studies B.A. and B.S. and four minors:

  • Philosophy Minor (15 credits) 
  • Ethics Minor (15 credits) 
  • Religious Studies Minor (15 credits) 
  • Religious/Cultural Literacy for Healthcare Professions (15 credits, online)

PHRE: Looking to the Future


Dr. Thomas bribing prospective students with t-shirts.

Last year saw PHRE building new partnerships on campus. We have been working with the Honor's College on a new course titled PHIL 115: Wicked Problems. Wicked problems are unstructured, multidisciplinary, wide-reaching issues, such as climate change or persistent injustice, that require critical and creative thinking to develop multiple interconnected solutions. If you want to work on these big problems, then find yourself a section of PHIL 115 asap.

After working with Davis College, PHRE has resurrected our professional ethics class (PHIL 310) with a REAL "writing intensive" designation. We look forward to helping Davis College students meet their professional ethics and writing intensive educational needs.

Did you know?

  • Jean-Paul Sartre turned down the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature. 
  • The famous Greek philosopher Socrates served as a distinguished hoplite (a Greek soldier) during the Peloponnesian War. 
  • A 1631 edition of the Bible accidentally omitted the word "not" from Exodus 20:14, resulting in the sentence "Thou shalt commit adultery." Known as the "Wicked Bible," a few copies exist in various museums. 
  • A medieval legend held that a woman, using the name John VIII, served as Pope from 855-858 CE.

Philosophy and Religious Studies in the News


Buddhist peace activist and mindfullness advocate, Thich Nhat Hanh, passed away on January 21, 2022.


Are you a fan of both the animated film Boss Baby and philosophy? Then the annual "Boss Baby Symposium" might be for you. On January 3 academics gathered at the first Boss Baby Symposium to discuss the metaphysical, cultural, and political aspects of the film.


The upward trend of religious disaffiliation deapens. The Pew Research Forum recently reported that about 29% of U.S. adults are now religiously unaffiliated.