Although few students will go on to become professional philosophers, philosophy provides some of the best training there is in critical thinking and communication skills. By intensively focusing on critically analyzing views and ideas, philosophy is the premier discipline in providing students with such skills as the ability to clarify, analyze, and solve difficult and vaguely defined problems; to organize ideas and issues, to respectfully consider alternative points of view; to assess pros and cons of an issue; to boil down complex data; to find and articulate hidden assumptions; and to communicate effectively, both verbally and through writing.
Employers often say that these are just the skills they want in college graduates, especially in our increasingly information-intensive job market. As Roger Herman, CEO of the Herman Group, a futuristic business "think tank," notes, "with the incredible challenges that will face workers in our fast changing environment, strength in communicating and critical thinking will be invaluable." He thus advises students to "avoid too much specialization in undergraduate years; specialization was good preparation for bygone years" (The Futurist
, p. 17, July 2000). The ability of philosophy to provide this sort of training is confirmed by alumni surveys. For example, a survey was given at Taylor University to alumni who had majored in philosophy. All of those who were surveyed agreed that philosophy had given them helpful skills for their present careers. It was also evident from the survey that a philosophy major was especially advantageous when combined with another major. The size and flexibility of the philosophy major at Messiah College make it very well suited for such combination.
The training that philosophy provides could truly be said to be the wave of the future: one can learn the critical thinking skills necessary for a career, but at the same time learn the great ideas that have shaped civilization, broaden one's horizons, and grow in one's Christian faith.