Pre-Ministry and Community Engagement

The Pre-Ministry and Community Engagement major is designed to prepare the student for seminary, or for lay work in non-profit, social justice centered religious and secular organizations. It provides a framework for an ecumenical religious education, an ethically informed approach to local, regional, and global inequities, and pragmatic strategies for working with organizations that seek to address and alleviate suffering.

This major is designed for the student who has interest in pursuing a career in ministry, religion-affiliated counseling, or lay work with social justice organizations. Depending on student goals, it can prepare one for seminary or yeshiva, or it can be a preparation toward a vocation within a religious or nonprofit context. A student may not combine this major with other majors offered in the Religious Studies Program.

The Pre-Ministry and Community Engagement major requires 33 hours of coursework.

All prerequisites must be completed prior to enrollment in the following courses.

Required Courses

PSYC 101: Introduction to Psychology
3 credit hours

This is a survey course providing a study of the behavior of living organisms, particularly human behavior. Typical problems are methods and measurement in psychology, theoretical systems, learning, motivation, perception, personality and psychopathology.

RELG 109: Introduction to the Study of Religion
3 credit hours

Religion and religious ideas are central to all cultures and societies, including our own. This course will look at the broad range of cultural forms we have come to call religion, examine how these forms shape cultures and societies, and finally, by examining what these forms have in common and how they differ, we will determine what it is we study when we study religion.

Ethics: Choose one of the following:

PHIL 305: Ethical Issues in Health Care
3 credit hours

This course explores the ethical dilemmas confronting contemporary medicine. It both inquires into a broad range of topics (abortion, euthanasia, health-care costs, organ transplantation, etc.) and provides a thorough study of ethical theories that may be applied to address the dilemmas of modern medicine.

PHIL 316: Ethics
3 credit hours

Students will be expected to confront, reflect on, compare and contrast, apply, and critically think through, the central ethical traditions offered throughout human history—particularly virtue ethics, deontology, and consequentialism. The course begins with a discussion of critical questions relevant to the study of ethics, such as relativism, human nature, and free will, then turns to examining the main theories and ends with criticisms of ethics.

RELG 309: Christian Ethics
3 credit hours

This course explores the biblical resources for Christian moral decision-making, examines the historical development of moral theology (from the early church through the twentieth century) and addresses selected moral issues.

RELG 290, 390, 490: Selected Topics
1-3 credit hours

Selected Topics are courses of an experimental nature that provide students a wide variety of study opportunities and experiences. Selected Topics offer both the department and the students the opportunity to explore areas of special interest in a structured classroom setting. Selected Topics courses (course numbers 290, 390, 490) will have variable titles and vary in credit from 1-3 semester hours. Selected Topic courses may not be taken as a Directed Study offering.

Theology, Culture, and World Religions: Choose six of the following; must choose from at least three different programs

ANTH 311: Issues in Community and Global Health
3 credit hours

This course introduces community and public health by framing it in a broad global context, and it examines social and cognitive factors contributing to health status and behavior. Topics may include the history and practice of public health; the social, political and economic determinants of health disparities; and distributions of disability, disease, and mortality.

CRIM 102: Introduction to Criminology
3 credit hours

A survey course designed to provide a general theoretical understanding of crime problems in the United States. The basic sources of crime, the justice machinery and society’s reaction to crime are examined.

PHIL 100: Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking
3 credit hours

This course helps students learn to think clearly, concisely and analytically, through a familiarity with the reasoning methods of logic in terms of learning how to define terms, formulate arguments and analyze statements critically and objectively. The course deals with the language of logic and the methods of deductive and inductive reasoning.

PHIL 218: Confucianism
3 credit hours

In this course we will study the ancient pre-Qin Confucian ethical tradition, concentrating first on the classic Four Books -Confucius’ Analects, the Mengzi, the Daxue (the ‘Great Learning’) and the Zhongyong (the ‘Doctrine of the Mean’) and then moving to the last pre-Qin Confucian work, the Xunzi. Once we have completed this fundamental survey, we will turn to selected works from later neo-Confucians and then turn for the last part of the course to an application of the Confucian ethical tradition to the modern world, specifically looking at political questions emerging in modern Asian societies.

PHIL 219: Daoism
3 credit hours

Whereas modern Western ethical theories and philosophers spend a great deal of time focused on understanding what kinds of actions people ought to perform, ancient Eastern thinkers focus instead of what one should be, and on the kind of overall life that a person ought to live. In other words, ancient thinkers tend to focus more on developing character (or virtue) than on foregrounding action. Of those ancient Eastern philosophies, the most well known are Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. In this course, we will concentrate closely on Daoism, focusing on understanding the kinds of people that this philosophy seems to suggest that we ought to embrace becoming more like (the “sage”). As we will see, Daoist writings place a great deal of emphasis on naturalness (ziran), a way of achieving a state of ‘flow’ (or harmony) with the natural world that rests on developing a number of key virtues or character traits such as emptiness, receptivity, and compassion. In this course we will strive to understand how the philosophical Daoists understood (in different ways) these key aims by centering on the two most famous Daoist texts, the Daodejing (~500 B.C.E) and the Zhuangzi (~300 B.C.E). As we proceed through these difficult and challenging texts, you will be expected to use these ancient philosophies as a springboard for thinking critically your own beliefs regarding the constitution of a truly authentic lifestyle.

PSYC 312: Positive Psychology
3 credit hours

Positive Psychology seeks to understand optimal human behavior. It emphasizes a scientific approach to knowing, guiding, healing, educating and helping people to flourish.

PSYC 334: Abnormal Psychology
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: CRIM 102 or PSYC 101
Following a brief introduction to personality theories, the course focuses on the etiology, classification and treatment of behavior disorders.

RELG 202: Religions of the World: Middle Eastern
3 credit hours

A comparative study of the major ideas of those religions most directly related to and influencing the West: Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

RELG 203: Introduction to the Bible
3 credit hours

An introductory study of the Hebrew scriptures and the Christian New Testament with attention to the literature of these sacred texts, the historical circumstances of their development and the methods of textual interpretation.

RELG 205: The Life and Teachings of Jesus
3 credit hours

A study of the person, work and teaching of Jesus as reflected in Biblical records, with some attention given to later and current interpretations of His life.

RELG 206: Eastern Religions and Philosophies
3 credit hours

An introduction to Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. Specifically, the course focuses on the systems of value that emerge from these traditions and, where appropriate, compares and contrasts them with the values systems of western traditions. The conceptual framework guiding this examination incorporates the tradition’s overall world view, conception of God or ultimate reality, its understanding of the origin, nature and destiny of the cosmos and of human beings, a diagnosis of the human condition and a prescription for attaining the ultimate goal or purpose of human life.

RELG 270: Who is Jesus?
3 credit hours

This course is devoted to understanding the multi-faceted historic and contemporary conversations about the identity, nature and influence of Jesus of Nazareth. It is divided into four sections. In the first, differing images of Jesus from the New Testament are examined. In the second, attention is given to the diverse theological understandings of Jesus throughout history. Part three examines currents in thought about Jesus from the contemporary period. Part four gives students the opportunity to share own research and findings into the question of Jesus’ identity.

RELG 275: Does God Exist?
3 credit hours

This course is designed to help students explore the question of divinity from a theological, philosophical and historical perspective. Students are introduced to the arguments for the existence of God as well as the arguments — both historic and contemporary — for atheism and agnosticism. Attention is given to images of God from historic religious traditions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Some focus is also directed to the Eastern interpretations. The course gives special attention toward the close to contemporary reinterpretations of God language. Finally, all students are given the opportunity to chart their own journey through this material in a closing intellectual biography.

RELG 310: The Bible and Sexual Ethics
3 credit hours

This course explores the Bible through theories of anthropology, sociology and cultural criticism. It looks specifically at stories in the Bible that concern marriage, sex and violence.

RELG 315: Buddhism and the Joy of Being Awake
3 credit hours

An in-depth study of Buddhism through the critical reading of primary source texts in translation. The course examines the conceptual framework of early Buddhist understandings of an overall worldview, ultimate Reality, the origin, nature and destiny of the cosmos, and of human beings as well, the human condition, the ultimate aim of human existence and a prescription for actualizing that goal. The course then explores the subsequent historical and doctrinal developments of Theravada, Mahayana, Zen and Vajrayana Buddhism. The course concludes with a look at contemporary Buddhism, its presence in the West, and its modern challenges, some contemporary Buddhist political leaders, and the lives and contributions of Buddhist women.

RELG 325: Living with Joy at Life’s End
3 credit hours

This course explores the experience of dying in contemporary American culture. Participants are introduced to the philosophical, theological and spiritual realities of aging and death. The ethical debates of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are discussed and attention is given to the psychological and sociological dimensions of the end-of-life journey. The class also has a field experience with selected residents of a nursing home. Working in pairs, the students conduct interviews across the semester and produce short “life review” books (20 pages) recording the stories of each participating elderly person’s life. This course has been approved as an Honors qualified course.

RELG 368: Twentieth Century Christian Thought
3 credit hours

An examination of the works of some of the major Christian thinkers of the twentieth century in their response to the intellectual and cultural movements of the times.

RELG 380: African American Religions in the United States
3 credit hours

This course is primarily a historical survey of the roles and functions of religion in the diverse communities of African peoples in North America. We will begin with a very brief look at African religions. We will then look at the various forms these religions take in the slave communities and in the abolitionist movements. Religion continues to be an integral component of African-Americans throughout the wars, the great depression, through the struggle for human rights, and of course, today. We will observe the intersection of life, economic, politics, etc. with religion through readings, discussions, films, music, and, if time allows, visits to local churches.

RELG 385: From Babylon to Berlin: A History of Anti-Semitism
3 credit hours

This course seeks to engage students in a critical consideration of the social and religious/theological implications of Nazi Germany’s “war against the Jews,” the intentional and calculated destruction of some 6 million European Jews (accompanied by the enormous suffering and losses experienced by other “undesirable” groups) which is referred to as the Shoah, or Holocaust. In order to do this, students will consider those events and perceptions that allowed the Holocaust to come about, particularly the development of racial anti-Semitism and religious anti-Judaism, which traces part of its lineage back to diasporic Judaism, the Christian scriptures, and to Christian theological perspectives, values, and actions of the early and medieval church. We will explore the behaviors and teachings of the church, its leaders, and lay adherents during the holocaust, as well as the religious motivations for the extraordinary courage displayed by those Christians who risked their lives to save Jews and others. We will ask, to what degree did these early writings influence the anti-??Jewish propaganda of the Third Reich? Finally, we will consider post-??holocaust reactions of both Jews and Christians and ask, has the event of the Jewish holocaust caused fundamental change in the relationship between those in power or those in the center, and those who are considered “other?” This question would consider directly issues that emerge around race, sexual orientation, class, and gender.

SOCI 302: Poverty and Inequality
3 credit hours

This course explores the causes and consequences of institutionalized inequality and how life chances, including life, health and death differ by race, socioeconomic status, and gender. Special emphasis will be given to how these social statuses affect health outcomes in the community.

Communications: Choose one of the following:

COMM 211: Presentational Speaking
3 credit hours

Principles and practice of effective oral communication. This course focuses on researching, composing and delivering formal and informal presentations. Topics include ethics and public speaking, listening, research, analyzing and adapting to audiences, message construction, outlining, delivery of message, effective use of visual aids and critically evaluating public address. The course emphasizes informative and persuasive speaking. Designed for students who seek speaking and critical thinking skills.

COMM 332: Intercultural Communication
3 credit hours

A survey of critical and qualitative inquiry into intercultural communication. This course provides an introduction to the tenets of intercultural research as well as in-depth analysis of intercultural communication competency and cultural criticism. Topics include introductory readings in ethnography, social anthropology and communication studies, and numerous case studies across various cultures. Theories include nonverbal communication analysis and facework across cultures. Diversity issues and identity politics are explored.

COMM 387: Organizational Communication
3 credit hours

Prerequisite:  COMM 215. 
Analysis of how organizations are produced and affected by communication. This course provides an in-depth examination and application of theories, contemporary perspectives and research in fields of organizational communication. Topics include organizational structures, culture, socialization, decision making, diversity, stress, burnout, technology processes and leadership.

Capstone Course: Internship

RELG 397, 398, 497, 498: Internship
Varies credit hours

Interns must have at least 60 credit hours, completed appropriate coursework and have a minimum GPA of 2.5 prior to registering for academic credit. Also, approval must be obtained from the student's faculty sponsor and required forms must be completed by the deadline. Note: *Architecture, Music Therapy and Education majors do not register internships through Career Planning & Development. These students need to speak with his/her advisor regarding credit requirements and options.

Students majoring in Pre-Ministry and Community Engagement are encouraged to fulfill their CORE foreign language by studying biblical languages, such as Greek, when available through the department of languages.