The study of religion is an important branch of the humanities and an essential component in any well-grounded program of higher education. It is crucial for the understanding of any culture and it deals with serious issues for the self-understanding of students of any age. The Department of Religious Studies offers programs designed to explore the variety of religious meanings which human beings have expressed in the past as well as those which continue to be expressed in the present.
Because of its roots in the Catholic tradition, this department offers a wide variety of courses on Christian themes and developments, while also offering students broad exposure to other traditions, such as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Hoping to be a place where the best in contemporary Catholic thinking can encounter and exist in dialogue with other sources of contemporary thinking, the University regards the Department of Religious Studies as a special focus of this encounter.
The Religious Studies curriculum is designed to serve three purposes within the University: (1) to provide introductory and survey courses in the study of religion that will be valuable for all undergraduates and available in all time slots; (2) to provide a major for students wishing to concentrate in the study of religion; (3) to provide a program leading to the master's degree for students wishing to engage in advanced studies.
Religious Studies Major 30 Credits
Religious Studies majors, and students who choose Religious Studies as a secondary area of concentration, are required to earn 30 credit hours in the field. Half of these credits must be earned in upper level courses (300 and 400 level).
To encourage a wide encounter with the varieties of religious expression, a student must take at least one course in each of the five areas into which Religious Studies is divided: world religions (other than Christianity), Biblical studies, Christian theology and spirituality, contemporary issues in religion, and ethics. A representative selection of courses in these areas will be offered days and evenings.
Near the end of their junior standing, majors are also required to submit a portfolio of exams and papers which, in their judgment, give evidence of their knowledge of the field, their skills of research and expression, and their personal appropriation of the materials they have covered. This is normally done in consultation with the student's faculty advisor. A faculty committee will review the portfolio and make such recommendations as may be appropriate for strengthening the student's senior year of study.
At the conclusion of the senior year, students are required to submit a completed portfolio of exams and papers for the departmental records. No additional grades are given for the portfolios. Their purpose is to assist the department in advising the students and assessing the effectiveness of the program.