Department of Theology and Religious Studies
The Department of Theology and Religious Studies explores the human quest for the transcendent as expressed in the world’s diverse religious traditions. It makes an essential contribution to the mission of Saint Joseph's University as a Catholic Jesuit institution to strive “to be an inclusive and diverse community that educates and cares for the whole person, encouraging and modeling a lifelong commitment to thinking critically, making ethical decisions, pursuing social justice, and finding God in all things.”
The Department of Theology and Religious Studies endeavors to engage ourselves and our students in the critical study of theological and religious traditions, praxis and intellectual inquiry, both historically and in the contemporary world. We are committed to a rigorous presentation of the methods and content of both Christian theology and religious studies as academic disciplines.
In pursuit of this mission, the department seeks to instill in students a capacity for methodical analysis and understanding of the world's theological and religious traditions; provide students with a scholarly, multifaceted understanding of the foundations of Christian faith, its development in different times and cultures, and its implications for life in society, especially within the Roman Catholic tradition; engage students in exploring the richness of the spiritual expressions and experiences encountered through the study of religions other than Christianity and foster an appreciation for the diversity that exists within the contemporary study of theology and religion as reflected in the department’s faculty and research endeavors.
Why study Theology & Religious Studies?
If you choose to major in theology or religious studies, you will learn all the same skills you would learn as a major in any other liberal arts subject – how to read carefully, think critically, formulate persuasive arguments and communicate clearly. You will get to practice these skills on a subject matter that you are really curious about and enjoy studying. There is no point spending four years of your life with something you don’t enjoy.
Seven overlapping factors drive life in the world: religion, land, history, economics, politics, race and climate. Religious convictions have always profoundly affected how individuals and societies view the other six fundamental components of community life. Even if someone does not identify with or hold any religious faith, understanding how the world works requires an understanding of how religion works, and therefore influences society.
- The curriculum allows enough flexibility for students who so wish to double major or earn one or two minors.
- Department faculty are involved in a number of cross-disciplinary programs and teach classes that fit programs including gender studies, Latin American studies and faith-justice studies.
- Department faculty are involved in teaching service-learning courses that engage the student in volunteer service and reflect on this service through the course content.
- Theology faculty teach study tours – to Poland, Bolivia, Greece and the Dominican Republic.
- Because the department is relatively small, students can develop close relationships with their faculty and enjoy the benefits of faculty advising that takes into account the individual needs and interests of the student.
News and Announcements
New Book Serves as Resource for Productive Dialogues About Israel: Directors of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations Philip Cunningham, Ph.D., professor of theology, and Adam Gregerman, Ph.D., associate professor of Jewish studies, published a book, titled “Enabling Dialogue about the Land: A Resource Book for Jews and Christians,” dedicated to helping interreligious discussion groups have educated, informed conversations about the land and State of Israel.
Looking Back on Pope Francis’ Visit to Hawk Hill: Pope Francis made a surprise visit to Hawk Hill during his trip to Philadelphia on Sept. 27, 2015. During his time on campus, he blessed the Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time sculpture located in front of the Chapel of Saint Joseph. Katie Oxx, Ph.D., associate professor of theology and religious studies, reflects on the importance of the Pope’s visit and how it still resonates today.
The Importance of Faith in Times of Crisis: In times of crisis and uncertainty, many people look to religion for guidance and consolation. But the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing have made even the most common displays of faith more complicated. Three faculty members from the Department of Theology and Religious Studies discuss how worship and expressions of faith have changed for different populations during the quarantine.
I have sought to take full advantage of my time at Saint Joseph's University to more fully develop and care for my entire person. As an English and theology major, my faith comes into everything I do, especially my writing. Because of the individualism of spiritual development and the fluidity of creative writing, the two disciplines blend and interconnect.”
Erin Breen '19
theology and English major