academic catalogue

2021-2022 Catalogue

Religious Studies

Religious Studies is the critical inquiry into cultural expressions – such as myth, ritual, symbol, and sacred texts – that address fundamental human concerns. The student of religion develops a broad methodological base from areas such as theology, ethics, history, philosophy, sociology, literature, and material culture to explore the intersections and intimate connections between systems of belief and practices, ethical codes, rituals, narratives, philosophies, and social and political structures across many cultures and centuries.

The fields of religion and philosophy (which is part of the department of religious studies) are essentially about critically engaging beyond the classroom and providing models to address questions of the ultimate, belief, and ethical life. The study of the historical, political, and sociocultural contexts of religious traditions and of intercultural philosophical traditions provide an intellectual background for those interested in pursuing careers in social service, education, ministry, government, journalism and the arts.

Minor Requirements: Religious Studies.

A minor in Religious Studies consists of 18 semester hours as follows (students interested in the major should see Religion, Philosophy, and Social Change):

  • Required Courses (3 hours)
    • REL 100: Theories and Methods in Religious Studies 3 hours
  • Any three from the following list. At least two courses at the 200 level (9 hours):
    • REL 110: Introduction to Theology 3 hours
    • REL 120: Introduction to Christianity 3 hours
    • REL 203: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament 3 hours
    • REL 212: The Abrahamic Traditions 3 hours
    • REL 213: Gender and Religion 3 hours
    • REL 216: Faith and Doubt 3 hours
    • REL 225: Exploring the World's Religions 3 hours
    • REL 280: Sacred Texts and Social Change 3 hours
    • REL 290: Readings in Religious Studies 3 hours
  • Any two from the following list (6 hours):
    • REL 306: Seminar in Ancient or Medieval Thought 3 hours
    • REL 309: From Modern to Postmodern 3 hours
    • REL 310: Religion and Society 3 hours
    • REL 396: Special Topics in Religion 3 hours
    • REL 451: Directed Independent Study 3 hours

Resources for Non-Majors. Religion courses are open to all students and are excellent resources for learning about other cultures. Also, for students in the humanities and social sciences, the study of religion represents an excellent opportunity to practice the various methodologies used in other areas of study.

Postgraduate Opportunities. The study of religion prepares a student for graduate programs in religion, for professional programs in religion or religious education, or for any profession in which creative and critical thinking is a requirement.

Pre-Seminary Program. Wesleyan College offers no pre-seminary major as such. However, all students who major or minor in Religious Studies or Philosophy, receive a 3.0 gpa or higher, and get a recommendation from the chair of the department are eligible for automatic admission into Emory's Candler School of Theology Master of Divinity program. Students interested in pursuing graduate studies in a theological seminary, with either some form of professional ministry or higher graduate work in view, should consider the recommendation of the Association of Theological Schools and take a broad range of courses in literature, history, natural sciences, social sciences, fine arts and music, languages, and religion (Christian and non-Christian).

Pre-seminary students frequently choose to major in fields such as English, history, religion, and philosophy, but any liberal arts subject is appropriate including the sciences and mathematics and the fine arts.

The Religious Studies program provides courses in the Bible, along with courses on non-Western religions, religion and society, and a range of special topics on various other religious themes. The Philosophy program has courses that supplement these offerings, including Ethics, Readings in Philosophy, and Gender and Philosophy. Pre-seminary students not majoring in either of these programs should consider electing at least some religion and philosophy courses in consultation with faculty members.

In addition to enrolling in some of the above courses, pre-seminary students should consult with the pre-seminary program advisor. Pre-seminary students are also encouraged to participate in periodic information sessions on graduate programs, round-table discussions with local ministers, and internship, all of which help students discern their vocations and prepare for post graduate study.

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