Warren Wilson College Catalog 04-05

Go to the current College Catalog

Religious Studies

Religious Studies Department Website

Faculty: Jeanne Sommer (Chair), Hun Lye

The Department of Religious Studies provides students with the opportunity to explore and examine a variety of religious traditions through critical but sensitive engagements with the diversity of beliefs, practices, histories, cultures, literatures, and social structures found within these traditions. In an increasingly interconnected world, this program is designed to help students to recognize, interpret, and decipher religion, religiosity, and religious issues as they relate to urgent personal, local, and global issues. The inter-disciplinary nature of Religious Studies places it in a unique position to attract students with a wide range of career and vocational plans including ministry, social work, education, law, foreign service, international business, NGO's, government, media, teaching, and research.

All courses in Religious Studies meet the General Education Requirement in Religion/Philosophy. The program offers a major and a minor and encourages students to consider double majoring. The program is particularly suited to meet the aims of several components of the college's mission and long range plans: the need to understand a variety of cultures and common human and environmental concerns; the appreciation of diversity; opportunities for cross-cultural experience and understanding; promotion of skills for purposeful and effective contribution to society; and the integration of service with study and reflection on underlying causes of social problems and potential solutions.

Major in Religious Studies

Requirements: A minimum of 44 credits of religious studies courses, at least 20 of which must be in courses numbered 300 or above. All courses must be passed with a grade of C or better to count toward the Religious Studies major. These required 44 credits are divided into five parts. Students who are interested in the major should consult with the chair of the department to obtain a "Plan of Study" guide sheet as an aid in mapping out their course work. Successful completion of the major is dependent upon completion of the Religious Studies Colloquium, submission of the Majors Portfolio, and completion of all other course work with a minimum QPA of 2.0.

I. Required Foundational Course (4 credits) Select one:

REL 111 Exploring Religions
REL/WMS 112 Women and Global Religious Traditions

II. Breadth Requirement: (12 credits) Select at least one course from each of the following sections:

Section I: History and Literature of Religious Traditions

REL 212 Religion, Nature, and the Environment
REL 238 History and Literature of Buddhism
REL 293 ST: Hinduism: Texts and Traditions

Section II: Jewish and Christian

REL 202 History and Literature of the Ancient Israelites
REL 241 History and Literature of the New Testament
REL 252 Life and Teachings of Jesus
REL 253 Emerging Christian Theologies
REL 255 Contemporary Christian Thought and Experience
REL 292 ST: History of Christianity

III. Depth Requirement: (16 credits)

Required Seminar Courses (8 credits):
REL 380 East Asian Religions: Seminar
REL 392 ST: Religion, Peace, and Social Justice: Seminar

Select two courses (8 credits):
REL 312 America's Alternative Religions
REL 313 Goddess Traditions
REL 330 Religion, Work, and Service
REL 338 Chan/Zen Buddhism

IV. Capstone Requirement and Completed Major Portfolio (4 credits)

REL 425 Religious Studies Colloquium

The completed Major's Portfolio consists of 4 components:

  1. A completed "Guidelines for a Plan of Study" in Religious Studies (see department chair for a form)
  2. All of the 300-level research projects and major seminar assignments completed as part of the Depth Requirement for the major.
  3. A "Religious Studies Major Assessment" narrative that, in response to a departmental questionnaire, evaluates how the academic study of religion addressed the student's overall college experience in particular relation to the college mission statement (see your advisor for the departmental form: "Guidelines for Writing the Religious Studies Major Assessment")
  4. A 25-30 page thesis paper that is completed as part of the Religious Studies Colloquium.

V. Electives: (8 credits)

In consultation with their advisor, majors have the opportunity to select two elective courses in addition to the above requirements. These electives can come from within the Religious Studies curriculum itself OR from other academic disciplines.

Minor in Religious Studies

Requirements: A minimum of 20 credits of religious studies courses. Related courses from other departments may be counted toward the minor with approval of department. Twelve (12) of those credits must be at the 200-level or higher, including one course at the 300-level. There is a minimum QPA of 2.0 for all courses counted towards the minor.