One of the major goals of a liberal arts education is “to prepare students within a broad, humane perspective for a life of inquiry, creativity and critical and analytical thinking.” For Goucher College this means “transcending boundaries” so to insure that students are able “to participate in the world of the 21st century as true global citizens.” Such reflection inevitably begins with students as enthusiastic and persistent inquirers confronting fundamental questions about human meaning and truth. The study of religion is a central to a liberal arts education; particularly one committed to “transcending boundaries not only between disciplines, but also among individuals, cultures, and nations worldwide.” By fostering close textual study and critical thinking and through facilitating the encounter with diverse perspectives, the study of religion is essential to such an educational commitment. Overall, its centrality to the liberal arts curriculum is due to several factors:
- Religion continues to be a fundamental prism through which people establish a view of reality, and grapple with the meaning of human existence as individuals and as social beings.
- Religion in its diverse expressions remains an essential part of all societies and culture as religious narratives consistently shape political, economic and other public discourse both globally and locally.
- Many of the current “cultural wars” in the United States and globally (i.e. right to life, marriage equality, war against terrorism, women’s rights to education, rights of LGBTQ persons) are shaped by differing religious perspectives of reality and the human person.
- Many of the wars and conflicts across the globe are rooted in competing/conflicting religious claims.
- Whether on campus, while studying abroad or volunteering in downtown Baltimore or in their chosen career, students will encounter people of varied religious perspectives will benefit from understanding the content and context of those perspectives.
The Religion Program provides an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approach to the academic study of religion. This program reflects the fact that while religious study provides a means of intellectual inquiry and development for some students, for other students the study of religion involves a personal journey as academic study and spirituality interact and challenge one another. Goucher’s religion program does not assume that the students come with a religious commitment and does not endorse or condemn any particular religious commitment. This program does assume that students come with a commitment to religious inquiry.
The major and minor are designed to reflect the program’s focus on religion and race, gender, sexuality, politics, social justice, and other societal forces. Major requirements allow students to construct an interdisciplinary track of study that utilizes courses from relevant programs as well as courses within the program. Regular meetings with program faculty as well as fellow majors and minors reflect the program’s emphasis on faculty and peer mentorship and collaboration.
The Religion Major reflects an emphasis on interdisciplinary study, peer and faculty mentoring and student directed research. By the beginning of their junior year, majors will identify an interdisciplinary area of focus that may coincide with one of the clusters of courses below or may be of the student’s own design. Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the program and major, this focus will enable students to take courses from other programs to fulfill the major. Students will complete an independent project during their senior year, reflecting this focus and with support from both faculty and fellow senior majors.
Students majoring in religion must successfully complete 9 RLG or JS courses and a senior capstone seminar for a total of 38 credits, including: