Religion

Division VI Chair: A. Webb

 

Department Chair: D. Smith

 

Religion Faculty: M. R. Anibueze, L. Curry, D. Dean, J. Pool, and D. Smith

 

Website: http://www.berea.edu/rel/

 

Courses: REL Courses

 

Course Sequencing Table: Religion

Entrance to the Major Information: Progression for REL B.A.

 

Major/Minor Requirements: Religion B.A.Religion Minor

The Religion Department examines the religious phenomena of human life, experience, and history. The Department studies how religious communities and traditions have emerged as vital aspects of human cultures and have also shaped those cultures. Rather than advocating religion or any particular religious perspective, the academic study of religion at Berea College describes and analyzes the diversity of religious experience, traditions, communities, and issues. The academic study of religion explores forms in and through which humans have both articulated and responded to their most profound and persistent questions about the universe, human nature, the human condition, personal and social morality, human community, ultimate or sacred reality, and religious ways of knowing. The Department investigates ways in which humans have expressed or exercised the religious dimension of human life institutionally, socially, politically, psychologically, economically, ritually, morally, rhetorically, textually, intellectually, aesthetically, and personally. Acknowledging both the multi-disciplinary and the interdisciplinary requirements for this field of study, those who teach in the Department both employ and rely upon a wide variety of disciplinary approaches in studies of religious phenomena. The faculty of the Religion Department, for example, studies religious phenomena, including the major religious traditions and communities of the world, with historiographical, linguistic and literary, social-scientific, anthropological, philosophical, and theological methods of analysis and interpretation. As a result of the multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary character of religious studies, the Religion Department cross-lists the majority of courses in this field of study in several other academic areas of study as well.

 

The academic study of religion enables students to explore many different human perspectives on the world, human life, and ultimate human concerns that appear within diverse cultures, across all historical periods, and through multiple traditions. The Religion Department provides several interrelated opportunities for students: (1) to cultivate understanding of religion or religious experience as a primary and enduring human response to and expression of the human condition; (2) to encounter many of the intellectual, practical, and theoretical issues and questions that attend the appearance of religion in human life and communities; (3) to acquire knowledge of diverse historical and contemporary religious communities, traditions, ideas, and phenomena, as well as knowledge of academic methods for the study of religion; (4) to examine some of the classic texts in both human religious history and the academic study of religion; (5) to develop descriptive, analytical, hermeneutical, critical, and constructive skills for the study of religious phenomena; (6) to sharpen abilities to communicate critically, yet constructively, through engagement with the religious practices and ideas of other people and their communities; and (7) to develop or to enhance appreciation for the complexities and possibilities of the academic study of religion.

The faculty of the Religion Department has designed the curriculum to attract students with interest in interdisciplinary (historiographical, philosophical, theological, sociological, psychological, anthropological, aesthetic, literary-critical, cultural) approaches to the study of religion. Students who focus their studies in other fields and disciplines (e.g., Art and Art History, Asian Studies, Child and Family Studies, Economics and Business, Education Studies, English, History, Nursing, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Peace and Social Justice Studies, Sociology, Sustainability and Environmental Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, among other potential areas of study) may profitably study the religious dimensions of those other bodies of human knowledge either through individual courses that contribute to their majors or minors, or by taking an additional major or minor in the study of religion.

As a result, courses in the study of religion become occasions for students to discover, to examine, and to understand the major features of various religious communities and traditions of the world: institutions, social organization and polity, leadership, moral systems, practices, rituals, sacred texts, and doctrines. Through its curriculum, the Religion Department offers both a major and a minor as basic foundations or backgrounds for graduate studies in several other or related fields for students who have interests in a variety of careers or vocations (e.g., ministry of various kinds, teaching, journalism, politics, law, social work, business, and medicine). The Department also offers introductory courses to students with other majors to encourage the exploration of religion in all its diversity as a support for studies in many other fields as well.

Students who pursue the academic study of religion at Berea College will learn and develop well-informed, rigorously-critical, creatively-constructive, and responsibly-engaged approaches to thinking, talking, and writing about religion through the following educational goals and corresponding learning outcomes:

In addition to supporting students' achievement of the Aims of General Education, the Religion Department seeks to assist students in meeting the following learning goals and associated learning outcomes:

Religion Student Learning Goals & Outcomes

Students who pursue the academic study of religion at Berea College will learn and develop well-informed, rigorously-critical, creatively-constructive, and responsibly-engaged approaches to thinking, talking, and writing about religion through the following educational goals and corresponding learning outcomes  Several courses in the curriculum correlate to each of the learning outcomes, thereby enabling students to achieve the learning outcomes for each goal and to develop competence in the study of religion at Berea College.


Learning Goal 1: Students will develop knowledge and understanding of the historical development and contexts of specific religious communities, traditions, or movements, with careful attention to the origin and evolution of their social organization and institutions, moral codes and practices, rituals and spiritual disciplines, sacred narratives and texts, and beliefs and doctrines.

Learning Outcome 1.1: Students will demonstrate understanding of the experiential or emotional dimension of religion, through acquisition of knowledge about different forms of religious experience, as well as basic religious issues, questions, and concerns that arise in human experience and emerge as human expressions of and responses to the human condition.

Learning Outcome 1.2: Students will demonstrate understanding of the ritual dimension of religion, acquiring knowledge about forms of worship and ceremonies in several religious communities and traditions.

Learning Outcome 1.3: Students will demonstrate understanding of the mythic or narrative dimension of religion, acquiring knowledge about several classic sacred texts from human religious history and the history of their interpretation.

 

Learning Goal 2: Students will encounter and examine religious, moral, aesthetic, social, economic, philosophical, political questions, problems, or issues that either emerge from the cultural contexts of religious communities, experience, thought, and practice, or occur as religious questions or issues within more expansive cultural frames of reference.

Learning Outcome 2.1: Students will demonstrate understanding of the social and institutional dimension of religion, acquiring knowledge about organization, structures, forms of authority and governance within specific religious communities, on the one hand, and interactions of religious communities with their larger cultural contexts in terms of their social, political, and institutional features.

Learning Outcome 2.2: Students will demonstrate understanding of the material dimension of religion, acquiring knowledge of the various ways in which religious communities and individuals express their experience of sacred or ultimate reality through the arts, architecture, music, drama, and other cultural expressions.