My name is Stephanie (Devine) Petersen.

My name is Stephanie (Devine) Petersen.

I am a self-contained special education teacher in a Title I, Turnaround School in Central West Baltimore, MD. I graduated from Cedarville in 2010 where I studied Intervention Specialist (Special Education K-12), was heavily involved in debate, SGA Secretary 09-10, Pro Terra Forma, and a 3.5 year tutor at the Cedarville Writing Center. I strongly object to the termination of the philosophy department or personnel at Cedarville University.
Yesterday, I was speaking with one of my 8th graders about the difference between culture and race. The day before, I was explaining to my 6th grade students what common threads of humanity we see in early Asian civilizations, and the day before that I was discussing the merits of affirmative action with a room full of 7th grade students. During these pivotal conversations, my mind and heart were not full of thoughts and tips from (undoubtedly priceless) courses in special education or pedagogy, but with the words of philosophy professors and majors that taught me to think and communicate- even though my name was never seen on a philosophy course roster.
During my time at Cedarville, my interactions with Alpha Sigma (the Philosophy club) and Parliamentary Debate forced me to think widely and deeply about issues that, although I completed the full Bible minor, would not have encountered or discussed in my Cedarville coursework. If not for some compelling conversations about faith, humanity, ethics and spiritual practice with these bright scholars, I would not be able to model the balance of compassion and logic that I hope to show my students each and every day.
In a world that already viciously attacks Christians for being soft-minded, inscrutable in their thinking and consistently close-minded towards alternate points of view, perhaps the singular worst thing my alma mater could do at this time would be to disengage from the conversation that happens uniquely in philosophy departments around the world. I was so proud to watch some of my friends, fellow alums, present their senior philosophy seminars, defending ideas and providing rationale that I still recognize as competitive with the brightest scholars at many other institutions of higher learning in the US and international collegiate bodies, as evidenced by their acceptance to prestigious graduate programs and continued success in the workplace.
As I continue to explore what it means to love as Christ does and serve God’s present and coming Kingdom, I cannot imagine a world in which some of our brightest Christian minds are being limited in their pursuits of knowledge by a university that I was so eager and proud to attend at the time of my graduation.
I implore those responsible for considering this decision to hear my voice, as a former campus leader and current Gospel believer when I say that without a philosophy department, Cedarville, to me, loses a significant deal of relevance as a Christ-centered institution in a world that desperately needs bright and loving Christians to inhabit it.


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