Mary Joan Leith
Office: College Center 226
R. Gribble, C.S.C.
The Department of Religious Studies offers a major and minor in Religious Studies.
The Department of Religious Studies focuses on the religious beliefs and practices of communities and individuals throughout history and in the present. It introduces students to religious traditions worldwide, and to the ways in which those traditions have been studied. In a liberal arts setting, Religious Studies is an integrative discipline, embracing virtually all aspects of human experience, as expressed in history, art, literature, social organization, politics, scientific exploration, theology and ethics. In the Catholic tradition of the quest for greater understanding, the Department of Religious Studies helps students develop critical appreciation of their own traditions and those of others.
In the General Education curriculum, the Department introduces students to the study of religion through the required first-year course. Students may also explore specific topics in the study of religion in a variety of Learning Communities and Moral Inquiry courses.
Majors and minors in Religious Studies explore rigorously an array of compelling human questions, the distinctive beliefs and practices of religious people across cultures, and the various roles that religions play in society. Because Religious Studies is an integrative discipline, majors and minors have gone on to pursue graduate study and careers in such fields as journalism, law, education, business, and healthcare, as well as in various forms of ministry.
Majors in Religious Studies will:
- understand the core constructs in the discipline: religion, myth, symbol, ritual, soteriology, revelation, tradition, religious ethnics, cosmology, mysticism, scared space, and scared time.
- comprehend the various types of “texts” in religious traditions; be able to contextualize and analyze primary sources, critically evaluate secondary sources, and demonstrate a familiarity with the problems of interpretation.
- become acquainted with the important themes in the Bible and main approaches to the study of the Bible. Understand the connections and tensions among Religious Studies, Biblical Studies, and Theology.
- acquire foundational knowledge of Catholic theological traditions and at least one non-Christian religious tradition.
- understand the major approaches in the discipline of Religious Studies and how the field developed with these approaches. Gain insight into how Religious Studies draws from a range of disciplines such as philosophy, history, archaeology, art history, psychology, etc.
- develop an understanding of the main issues and debates in the discipline of Religious Studies.
- become competent in scholarly research techniques and composition skills.