Courses in philosophy and religion expose Deerfield students to the sources, principles, and applications of those ideas that influence our actions and assign meaning to the human experience. Deerfield believes that as part of their education, students should examine their own values, and to do so properly it is helpful to be aware of some of the historical, philosophical, and theological foundations underlying their assumptions and beliefs.

The department’s courses prompt students to bring to discussion their knowledge and insights from other disciplines; at the same time students are introduced to philosophical and religious ideas that demand careful reading and a distinct type of thinking unique to philosophy. By stressing critical thinking, deep inquiry, written expression, and class discussions, students develop intellectual skills. Courses at the freshman and sophomore levels address the foundations of ethical decision-making and the place of religion in both Eastern and Western cultures. Junior- and senior-level courses give the student an opportunity to explore philosophical and religious ideas in greater depth and to see their connection to Eastern and Western cultures and political issues.

Students entering as freshmen or sophomores are required to take a one‑term course in the department during their time at Deerfield.