Goucher College 2012-2013 Undergraduate Catalogue 
    Sep 25, 2022  
Goucher College 2012-2013 Undergraduate Catalogue PLEASE NOTE: This is an archived catalog. Programs are subject to change each academic year.

Religion Major

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One of the major goals of a liberal arts education is to prepare students to become productive, responsible, moral world citizens who critically reflect on who they are as complex individuals in an equally complex society and cosmos. Such reflection inevitably begins with students as enthusiastic, yet perplexed inquirers confronting fundamental questions about human meaning and truth. In this regard, philosophy and religion are essential parts of a liberal arts education. Both disciplines help students to analyze and comment critically on concerns that are fundamental to human existence.

Philosophy and religion interrogate the “truth” of human existence. Both seek to move students beyond uncritical patterns of thought and experience to ones that recognize problems of human knowing/existence and that bring students to a more considered approach to living. Both disciplines attempt to help students think clearly, critically, and cross-culturally about who they are in relationship to themselves, their social and world communities, and the wider cosmos. Philosophy does this by bringing basic human experiences and issues into question. Religion does this by exploring a particular view of reality and human existence that establishes the meaning of the human being (socially and individually) in relation to “ultimate” reality. Philosophy and religion converge in their concern to probe questions such as: What is truth? What can I know? What must I know? What is the meaning of existence? What is moral? What is just? What can I hope for? What is the meaning of a good life? What is a just society/world? The point of divergence between the two disciplines of inquiry is oftentimes found in the answers they give to these questions. Religion necessarily relates the meaning of truth, knowledge, morality, etc. to “ultimate reality” while philosophy may not.

The Religion Program provides an interdisciplinary 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 religion program explores religion from two perspectives: methodology and content.

Courses in the major are divided into three general areas: Area One: history and development of religious traditions, Area Two: significant thinkers, texts and theological movements, Area Three: religion and society

The Major Requirements:

Students majoring in religion must successfully complete 12 courses with at least two courses from each area and reflecting at least two different religious traditions with no more than 1 one hundred level course and at least three 300-level courses counting toward the major. Majors must also demonstrate proficiency in several skills that the department has deemed necessary for professional advancement within the discipline and related fields.

The department requires that two primary areas of proficiency must be achieved before a student completes the major: Writing Proficiency and Speaking Proficiency.

Writing Proficiency can be achieved in the following ways:

  1. By having a paper published, for instance, in an undergraduate journal, in a campus essay magazine, or in another peer reviewed forum.
  2. By enrolling in a religion course that incorporates a revision process for the final essay—ideally this would include a peer-to-peer workshop component as well. These courses will be designated in the course catalogue.
  3. By writing a senior thesis.
  4. By assembling, in their senior year, a Writing Portfolio which will include three of the student’s best papers written on a topic in religion during their years at Goucher. This portfolio will be submitted for review to the student’s advisor no later than March 1 of their senior year (or October 1 in the case of a December graduation). This portfolio will then be evaluated by two members of the religion faculty.

Speaking Proficiency can be achieved in the following way:

  1. By having a paper accepted for presentation at an undergraduate conference where the presentation is open for questioning by the audience.
  2. By enrolling in a religion course that incorporates a substantial class presentation. The religion advisor will work with the student to ensure that this has been fulfilled.
  3. By orally defending a senior thesis.

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