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Philosophy & Religious Studies Department

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Cognitive Science Minor

What is cognitive science?

Cognitive science is a multidisciplinary field of research about the nature of cognition (thinking). Cognitive science involves many levels of examination, from theoretical models of the structure of cognitive processes, to basic neuroscience, to measures of behavior from which we infer cognitive structures and processes, to computer modeling of these processes. Unifying the field is the importance of abstract thinking (as mental processes are unobservable) and an understanding of philosophical issues related to the study of mental processes, action, and perceptual experience.

A minor in cognitive science would be of interest to anyone curious about the mind, the nature of the human experience of reality, the roles of language, emotion, biology, and social context in this experience, our understanding of cognition in other organisms, and artificial intelligence. In particular, the minor complements its constituent disciplines by flexibly offering an integrative, interdisciplinary context of study.

Why should I minor in cognitive science?
Minoring in cognitive science provides students interested in cognition with the opportunity to explore the connections between different disciplines that approach questions in cognition using a variety of methods.

While a minor in cognitive science would be relevant to anyone interested in the mind, the minor may be especially useful for students majoring in the constituent disciplines (psychology, philosophy, computer science, etc.) because it will allow students to develop a broader perspective on their major field of study and how it connects with cognate disciplines.

Because of its interdisciplinary nature, there is an emphasis on critical, abstract thinking, and incorporation of a variety of research methods. The minor may also enhance students' potential for success in a variety of graduate programs (such as those in cognitive science, computer science, neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology, and professional programs (including law school, medical school, and seminary).

What kinds of courses would I take?
In the cognitive science minor, students explore issues in the field by taking a structured series of courses in multiple disciplines including philosophy, psychology, computer science, linguistics, biology, and mathematics. Note that classes in the Cognitive Science Studies Pathway also count toward the minor.

  • Students will develop & demonstrate critical thinking skills (in written & oral expression) & critical reading skills (by learning to identify, analyze & understand arguments).
  • Students will recognize & develop an appreciation for the problems & challenges that arise in the major sub-divisions of philosophy by engaging in scholarly research and writing.
  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of the development of philosophical ideas through our intellectual history by engaging in scholarly research and writing.
  • Students will develop an understanding of and appreciation for how philosophy can inform & be informed by the concerns in other disciplines & everyday life.