Department of Religious Studies
Saint Mary's College is a pioneer in the education of women. In few places is this pioneering spirit shone more clearly than in the teaching of religion. Under the leadership of Sr. Madeleva Wolff, C.S.C., third president of Saint Mary's (1934-1961), the college became the first women's college in the nation to offer a regular undergraduate degree in theology and the first Catholic college to give advanced degrees in theology to women. The Department of Religious Studies seeks to participate in and extend this proud heritage.
The Department of Religious Studies seeks to create an academic environment for the open study of religion and for serious theological inquiry. The department is firmly committed to St. Anselm's definition of theology as "faith seeking understanding." This both grounds our commitment to the rigors and virtues of the intellectually examined religious life and distinguishes us from the primarily pastoral approach of Campus Ministry. Our respect for the faith life of our students is shaped by our desire to give them the critical skills they need to appropriate that faith more maturely and responsibly and to live it more fully and truly. We hope, therefore, to offer students
- the occasion for investigating without inhibition the meaning and truth of religious claims,
- the obligation and the courage to risk a conversation with people, ideas, texts and traditions which appear different and challenging to their own perspectives, and
- the responsibility for critical thinking and reasoned argumentation in the development and advancement of their own views.
In addition to the two courses in Religious Studies required of every Saint Mary's student, the department offers a major in Religious Studies and a minor in Religious Studies. Many of our students double major in Religious Studies and link their Religious Studies program with some particularly interesting combinations (math & religion, economics & religion, psychology & religion, social work & religion, and so on.)
It takes a special person to major in Religious Studies, and so we are not a huge program. But our smaller size allows more individualized attention and a stronger sense of community. We also know that many students (and their parents!) have questions about why they should major in Religious Studies, whether it's practical to study religion, and what they can do with a degree in Religious Studies after they leave college. Outstanding junior and senior Religious Studies majors may be eligible for The David J. Murphy Carmelite Scholarship in Theology, the largest endowed scholarship in the humanities at Saint Mary's.
If all of this sounds like an exciting and enriching opportunity for you, please peruse our site and also visit the College Admission pages. You can arrange a campus visit and tour and even sit in on some Religious Studies classes while you're here. In addition, any of the Religious Studies faculty would be happy to speak with you during your visit.
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