Examine humanity's quest for meaning and purpose as expressed in religious beliefs and practices from around the world.
The religious studies program explores the role of religion in culture through the study of sacred texts, languages, ethics, beliefs and the history of religious traditions. Courses examine the influence of religion in shaping the human quest for meaning.
- Bachelor of Science
- Major, Minor
Stetson University's religious studies program is inherently multidisciplinary, encompassing social-scientific, literary, linguistic, historical, cross-cultural and theological methods of inquiry. With a major or minor in our program, you will be provided not only with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue graduate or professional study, but you will be provided with good reasoning and analytical skills, excellent writing and communication skills and an exposure to the great questions and great thinkers that have shaped our world. Students in the religious studies program are well prepared for continuing graduate study in religion. Our graduates study at some of the best graduate programs in religion, and often receive substantial grants and scholarships from those institutions.
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In addition to regular classroom study, the department offers several travel opportunities in which faculty lead various travel courses that may include visits to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, England, France and Spain. In addition, students can participate in a summer travel course focusing on religion and the Civil Rights Movement.
The religious studies faculty members are dedicated classroom teachers and active scholars, as evidenced by their publications, participation in scholarly organizations and presentations at academic conferences. Several faculty members have been recipients of university awards for teaching excellence, scholarship, community service and involvement with students. The faculty includes:
- Christopher Bell, Ph.D., University of Virginia
- Phillip Lucas, Ph.D., University of California at Santa Barbara
- Kandy Queen Sutherland, Ph.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Mitchell Reddish, Ph.D., Southern Seminary, Louisville
- Gregory Sapp, Ph.D., University of Virginia
- Dixon Sutherland, Ph.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Graduates of the religious studies program are religious leaders, lawyers, doctors, professors, college administrators and business leaders.
Our graduates have studied at
- Harvard University
- Vanderbilt University
- Emory University
- University of Chicago
- University of Virginia
- Princeton Theological Seminary
In addition to graduate study in religion, religious studies graduates have continued their education in social work, law school, medical school and business school.
Amy Bucciarelli ’03, Academic Coordinator and Lecturer for the University of Florida’s Innovation Academy and Board Certified Art Therapist, Gainesville, FL
As an art therapist who has worked with children and families coping with life limiting illnesses, and now, as a faculty member teaching undergraduates myself, my studies at Stetson gave me a rich foundation in which to appreciate and understand people from all places of history, walks of life, types of culture, and faith backgrounds. My religious studies degree has set me apart from other job candidates because of its uniqueness. The practical skills of a religious studies major were paramount to my development as a professional. Strong written and verbal communication skills, media literacy, and human-centered empathy are important for success in any field. Moreover, my studies gave me the opportunity to think deeply and critically about the things that matter most in our world. Finally, perhaps the most memorable aspect of being a religious studies major at Stetson was the one-on-one attention each faculty member gave me as a student. Even years later, the religious studies faculty and staff feel like my second family, helping me develop into a forward thinker and encouraging me to pursue a life path that makes a true impact in this world.
John Mills ’04, a principal attorney at the Phillips black Project and an expert on capital punishment and juvenile life without parole, San Francisco, CA
Who is worthy of mercy? What does it say about ourselves that we send children to die in prison? How can I best make sense of an obtuse legal text? My experience in the Department of Religious Studies helps me confront these questions that are daily at the heart of my law practice, where I represent individuals facing the death penalty or a lifetime in prison. In theology courses, I learned to deconstruct profound moral problems. In biblical literature courses, I drew on context, structure, and history to understand the text. In world religion courses, I learned to engage with traditions very different than my own. I also had mentorship and guidance that helped me have the courage to put into practice my belief that we are all more than the worst thing we have done.
Jamie Haskins ’06, Chaplain, Director of the Center for Faith and Service, Instructor of Religious Studies, Westminster College, Fulton, MO
My time as a religious studies major taught me how to think—how to examine and engage my faith and the world around me with fresh eyes and through multiple lenses. Academically rigorous, Stetson prepared me to continue my education in a competitive graduate school environment while surrounding me with a rich community of friends, mentors and colleagues. Each day as I teach on a college campus and care for college students, I remember Stetson and give thanks for the many ways it shaped me and prepared me for this work.