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Religious Studies Statement of Purpose and Learning Outcomes

The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies provides students with the opportunity to explore the answers of philosophers and religious traditions to the great existential questions of life. These “big questions” include the ultimate nature and purpose of reality, the sources and quality of knowledge, the basis of ethics and morals, human claims about relating to God, the relationship between reason and faith, and the natural and ultimate destiny of human beings.

Although philosophy and religious studies are distinct disciplines, they both seek to develop analytical and critical thinking, to enhance the ability to express ideas in speaking and writing, and to engage in ethical and moral thought. These inquiries are essential elements of the Catholic intellectual tradition which is embraced by the College as part of its mission. A deliberate attempt is made to help students reflect upon, explain, support, and communicate their own answers to these questions as they apply them to their own personal and professional lives.

Religious Studies Statement of Purpose
Religious Studies courses give students the opportunity to understand the role of religion in providing answers to existential questions as well as its impact on history and culture, with particular emphasis upon contemporary society. Courses cover the history, belief systems, and patterns of religious behavior, in addition to various forms of religious expression such as sacred texts, ritual and practices, theology, and art. Although there is a cross-cultural approach, the Roman Catholic experience is presented, where appropriate, as befits the mission of the college founded by the Sisters of Charity whose spirit informs the entire college.

We teach religion as an academic discipline, so that students with different or with no religious affiliation or belief can benefit from learning about, understanding and evaluating religious history and concepts. Such knowledge can help all who study religion navigate in a society that has been and continues to be influenced by it. Students are taught to think critically and to evaluate information independently. At the same time, students are also encouraged to reflect upon, explain, and support their beliefs and views as they relate to their own personal and professional lives.

Religious Studies Learning Outcomes
Students completing an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies at the College of Mount Saint Vincent will be able to:

1) Identify, define, and explain fundamentally important concepts, terms, and practices in religious studies and theology, especially in Roman Catholicism where appropriate.
2) Compare and contrast these concepts and terms across several different religious traditions.
3) Describe the methodologies of various religious traditions in arriving at these concepts, terms, and practices.
4) Demonstrate information literacy in the discipline, including knowledge of modern scholarly hermeneutical principles (rules of interpretation).
5) Discover the cross-disciplinary implications of religious studies.
6) Investigate the influence and impact of religion on society both in the past and present.
7) Think critically about, discuss, and evaluate the religious and social issues in their personal lives and in their local and global communities.