CA&S Introduces Two New Majors, Minor

Friday, October 8, 2010

It is a time of great change at Saint Joseph’s University with new and renovated buildings dotting the campus and an expansion of academic programs.

Beginning this semester, the College of Arts and Sciences is offering two new majors to students in religious studies and ancient studies. Also offered is the new environmental and sustainability studies minor.

“The religious studies major permits students to focus on one or more non-Christian religions including Islam, Hindu, Buddhism and ancient Greek theology, among others. Our goal is for students to gain a broad knowledge of non-Christian religions,” says Shawn Krahmer, Ph.D., chair of the department of theology and religious studies.

The new major offers students the opportunity to pursue a curriculum similar to that of a theology major, yet more diverse. Whereas theology majors are required to complete five courses on Christianity and two courses on non-Christian religions, those course requirements are flipped for the religious studies major, which requires five courses on non-Christian religions and two on Christianity.

“The major allows us to clarify for the academic community and those outside the University that even while inside a tradition, we can still position our focus outside that tradition and appreciate and learn the traditions of others,” Krahmer says.

Students interested in exploring the ancient world from Greece to Rome will have the opportunity to study its languages, history and culture in the new ancient studies major.

“The ancient studies major is a rethinking and redesign of our former Latin major, which was approved in 2001, principally for students preparing to teach Latin at the secondary school level,” says Maria Marsilio, Ph.D., associate professor of Latin and classics and chair of the department. “While the Latin major served us very well, we wished to give the major greater breadth by incorporating courses in ancient Greek and in a wider range of courses in ancient history, religious studies, philosophy and material culture.”

The ancient studies major will be split into two concentrations: classics and ancient cultures. The classics concentration combines courses in Latin and Greek language and literature, classical literature in translation, Hebrew language and ancient history of the Mediterranean and Near East, while the ancient cultures concentration takes an interdisciplinary approach to allow specialization in a variety of areas that complement existing programs such as classics, ancient history and archaeology.

“We hope that students will embrace this new major and its focus on classical languages, literatures, cultures and civilizations,” Marsilio says. “We also hope that students will explore and appreciate the resonances of ancient Greece and Rome and the Near East in modern societies and cultures.”

For those students happy with their current majors but looking to add a minor to their course load, there is the new environmental and sustainability studies minor. The minor will feature core courses of Environmental Science and Environmental Theory and Ethics to go with four courses in the areas of natural sciences, economics and business, and societal issues.

“Our goal for this minor is to produce graduates who are truly ‘men and women for others’ by preparing students for careers that will identify and study the causes and effects of current and future environmental challenges, educate others about the environment, and help write and analyze related policy,” says Jean Smolen, Ph.D., director of the program and associate professor of chemistry. “We are excited about providing an academic option to the many efforts already under way at the University with respect to the environment and sustainability.”


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