At Le Moyne College, the academic study of religion plays a key role in the search for meaning and value. Such study encourages students to think more critically and creatively about their beliefs and practices, as well as about the beliefs and practices of others. Religious traditions influence societies and cultures just as social and cultural concerns challenge religious conventions. Responsible citizenship requires accurate knowledge of religion and religions to respond thoughtfully to the complexities of the contemporary world. Through the academic study of religion, we expect our students to become critical and compassionate thinkers and agents in that world, a world at once troubled and wondrous.
A: Theory & Method
To achieve this goal and to relate religious values and commitment to contemporary culture, each Le Moyne College student is required to take two (2) courses in the Department of Religious Studies as part of the core education requirements of the College. The first of these courses introduces students to some of the major questions addressed by the Catholic theological tradition, as well as to major questions the tradition has addressed throughout history. It may include opportunities for inter-religious dialogue, through, for example, comparative study of those questions in relation to other religious traditions. By grounding theology in human experience, the course may also offer theological perspectives on critical issues in the contemporary world. In the second course, students develop their understanding of the role religion plays in shaping the contours of human experience through the study of one or more religious traditions. These courses may also explore the connections between religion and other communal and/or individual concerns, including but not limited to politics, ethics, psychology and aesthetics.
Students are also encouraged to elect additional courses in religious studies beyond those taken to fulfill the core requirement. The department offers major and minor programs of study in the field of Religious Studies.
A student wishing to major in religious studies must complete 30 credit hours (10 courses) in religious studies: REL 200 (three credits), three REL 300-level courses taken for major credit (nine credits); four REL 300 or 400 elective courses (12 credits); a REL 400-level course (three credits); and the Religious Studies Colloquium (three credits). The student must also complete foreign language study through the intermediate level.
Upon declaring a religious studies major, students will receive a copy of the departmental learning goals, which include:
Differentiate between the main theoretical approaches to the study of religion/ theology and evaluate critically their strengths and weaknesses (Bloom cognitive: analysis/evaluation).
Demonstrate the ability to locate and to use appropriately and critically sources of information for the academic study of religion/theology (Bloom cognitive: knowledge/evaluation).
B: Knowledge of multiple religious/theological traditions
Identify key elements or dimensions of religion (e.g. myth, ritual, etc.) or theology (e.g. the role of Scripture, sacraments, spirituality, etc.) and discuss intelligently their relationship in the context of at least three religious traditions (one eastern, one western, and one indigenous) or the Catholic/Christian theological tradition (Bloom cognitive: comprehension/analysis).
C: Religion & Culture
Illustrate understanding and appreciation of the reciprocal nature of religion/theology and culture in historical and contemporary contexts (Bloom cognitive: comprehension/analysis; Bloom affective: valuing).
D: Religion and the search for meaning
Outline the various ways that religion/theology facilitates the human search for meaning and appraise their effectiveness in doing so (Bloom cognitive: analysis/evaluation).
E: Ethical/political dimensions of religion
Compare the reciprocal roles that religions/theologies play in socio-political processes both within nations and internationally (Bloom cognitive: comprehension/synthesis).
Compare, contrast, and critique the norms for conduct and character from several religious/theological traditions (Bloom cognitive: evaluation).
Students and their advisers will use these goals as a guide in selecting courses. Students will demonstrate progress toward the goals by compiling work drawn from each semester into a portfolio for review by members of the department. During the senior year, in the context of the religious studies colloquium, students will reflect on that progress in a concluding assessment essay.
Religious Studies Courses and Requirements
If you would like to learn more about courses, requirements, and opportunities for the Religious Studies major, please see the Le Moyne College catalog.