Religious Studies and Theology

Chair: Rebecca Krawiec, PhD

Introduction

Religion plays an important role in human life and history. A strong liberal education requires introduction to the intellectual analysis of this important dimension of human existence. A major in religious studies and theology provides a broad intellectual context for those who wish to study religion in greater depth. The major program offers study and appreciation of Roman Catholicism, other sects of Christianity including Eastern Orthodoxy, Jewish religious thought, the Islamic tradition, and surveys of other religions. This approach involves the comparative study of religions and a positive approach to the varieties of non-religion, such as atheism. The department provides the opportunity for a critical appraisal of religious faith through the study of primary source materials — scriptural, historical, and theological — and the use of interdisciplinary methodologies, such as anthropology, sociology, and psychology.  The department also expresses the religious dimension of the college’s founding in the Jesuit and Catholic tradition. Its orientation is to serve the community that shares the values of that tradition. For a more detailed description of the program, faculty, facilities, academic and co-curricular opportunities please go to the Religious Studies and Theology website.

Qualifications

Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA in their major and a 2.0 overall average to graduate with a degree in Religious Studies and Theology.

Advisement

All students should have an advisor in the major and should contact the department directly to have an advisor assigned if they do not already have one.  Meetings with academic advisors are required prior to students receiving their PIN for course registration each semester. All majors should work closely with their advisor in discussing career expectations, choosing their major electives, developing their entire academic program and planning their co-curricular or supplemental academic experiences.

Dual Majors

Students who wish to expand their educational opportunities may decide to declare a dual major. The decision may be based on career goals or planned graduate studies. Before a student declares a dual major, it is important to meet with the appropriate academic departments for advisement. Some dual major combinations can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in some cases additional course work may be required. In order to declare a dual major, the student must complete the appropriate dual major request form and get the signature of each department chairperson and the appropriate associate dean.

Religious Studies and Theology majors have often majored in Communications, Education, History, Philosophy, or Psychology.

Minors in other dISCIPLINES

Minors provide students the opportunity to pursue additional interests but generally do not require as many courses as a major.  Minors generally range from five to eight required courses. The minors page provides a complete list of minors and provides links to each minor. Some majors and minors can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in some cases additional coursework may be required. Students must complete the appropriate minor request form.

Curriculum

An Ignatian Foundation

All undergraduate students must complete either the Canisius Core Curriculum or the All-College Honors Curriculum. Many schools refer to their college-wide undergraduate requirements as "general education" requirements. We believe that the core curriculum and the honors curriculum are more than a series of required classes, they provide the basis for a Jesuit education both with content and with required knowledge and skills attributes that are central to our mission.

Free Electives

Students may graduate with more but not less than 120 credit hours. Free electives are courses in addition to the Core Curriculum or Honors Curriculum and major requirements sufficient to reach the minimum of 120 credit hours required for graduation.

Major Requirements

(10 Courses)

Required Courses
RST 200Introduction to the Hebrew Bible3
RST 201Introduction to the New Testament3
RST Course in a non-Christian contemporary religion3
RST 400Religious Studies and Theology Seminar3
RST 489Projects for Majors3
Electives
5 free electives chosen from any course listed under Religious Studies and Theology courses (RST 101 may not be included)15
Total Credits30

We invite you to meet with the chair or relevant professor to choose electives for the major that align with your interests.

Additional Course Considerations

The Department has no required foreign language course(s) for its majors, but it strongly encourages all majors, if they are considering seminary or graduate study in theology or religion, to take a foreign language that is especially relevant to a student’s interest in the discipline, such as Biblical Hebrew, Greek, Latin, or a modern foreign language. Greek and Latin are offered through the Classics Department and modern foreign languages through the Department of Modern Languages. Literatures and Cultures. Biblical Hebrew is offered on demand when there is sufficient student interest through the Religious Studies and Theology Department

The Department also offers courses for credit through the Institute for the Global Study of Religion. These are immersion experiences, often abroad, and are offered on a rotating basis. Please contact Dr. Timothy Wadkins for further information.

Roadmap

Recommended Semester Schedule for Major Course Requirements

Freshman
FallSpring
RST 101RST 200
Sophomore
FallSpring
RST 201RST Course in a non-Christian contemporary religion
RST Elective 
Junior
FallSpring
RST 400RST Elective
RST ElectiveRST Elective
Senior
FallSpring
RST 489RST Elective

Learning Goals & Objectives

Student Learning Goal 1

Religious Studies and Theology majors will know the scriptures which form the foundation of Judaism and Christianity, as well as the basic insights of at least one other world religion.

Students will:
  • Objective A: Students will demonstrate understanding of the scriptural traditions of the Hebrew Bible; 
  • Objective B: Students will demonstrate understanding of the scriptural traditions of the New Testament;
  • Objective C: Students will demonstrate understanding of the religious teachings of a religion other than Christianity.

Student Learning Goal 2

Religious Studies and Theology majors will be critical thinkers about religion. 

Students will:
  • Objective A: Describe the context of a particular religious or theological question and develop a thesis in response to the question;
  • Objective B: Analyze alternative viewpoints of the issues raised by the question and construct a logical defense of the argument;
  • Objective C: Draw warranted conclusions from the evidence gathered.

Student Learning Goal 3

Religious Studies and Theology majors will do scholarly research and writing in Religious Studies or Theology. 

Students will:
  • Objective A: Use a major theory or a theoretically-based method from the academic study of religion as part of an analysis of a religious or theological question;
  • Objective B: Demonstrate understanding of intellectual property and present evidence in a fair and ethical manner;
  • Objective C: Cite sources in an appropriate documentation style.

Minors

The Religious Studies and Theology Department offers a minor for non-majors in Religious Studies and Theology. The  department is also the administrative center for an Interdisciplinary Minor in Catholic Studies that is open to students in any major.

Courses

RST 101 Introduction to Religious Studies and Theology 3 Credits

An academic introduction to the nature and role of religion in human life and society, including the Jesuit and Catholic traditions as well as other world religions.

Offered: fall & spring.

RST 200 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible 3 Credits

Introduction to the literature of the Hebrew Bible within its ancient Near Eastern setting. Particular attention paid to historical, literary, cultural, and theological questions.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology), Global Awareness

RST 201 Introduction to the New Testament 3 Credits

Introduction to the literature of the New Testament, the socio-historical context that produced it, and its use as a historical source for the study of the early Christian movement.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 219 History of Eastern Orthodox Christianity 3 Credits

Historical study of Eastern Christian Churches.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology), Global Awareness

RST 220 Introduction to Eastern Religions 3 Credits

This survey course will introduce students to the range and complexity of some of the religious traditions associated with South, Southeast and East Asia. Students will encounter a wide variety of primary and secondary sources describing these religious traditions and experiences, including sacred texts, mythology, medieval devotional poetry, and more.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology), Global Awareness

RST 221 Native American Religions 3 Credits

The nature of indigenous religions in Native American societies and the effect of cultural change through contact with other cultures.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 222 African Religions 3 Credits

Thematic study of religion in tribal societies. Primary emphasis on African, American Indian, and Pacific Island traditions.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology), Global Awareness

RST 224 Islam: Tradition and Revival 3 Credits

In this course, after an introduction to the foundations of Islam, we will investigate this diversity through the study of Islamic scriptures, Muslim cultures, social institutions, religious practices, and Muslim and Western writings about them in order to better understand Islam and Muslims in the U.S. and throughout the world. Also accepted for Anthropology major and minor credit.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology), Global Awareness

RST 229 Religious Perspectives on Animals 3 Credits

This course will focus on the historical and cultural relationship between the world's religions and the animal realm.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 230 Catholic Belief Today 3 Credits

Based on the Creed, this course examines the fundamental articles of faith. They include faith itself, the Bible, church tradition; the one God as Trinity, revealed in Jesus, and present through the Holy Spirit; the church as a structured and prayerful community, with seven sacraments.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Advanced Writing-Intensive, Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 231 Introduction to Catholic Studies 3 Credits

Major movements and personalities in Catholic theology, history, culture, and spirituality. How the Catholic church came to be what it is today. The Catholic world-view and its relation to modern society.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Advanced Writing-Intensive, Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 234 Christians (En) Countering Injustice 3 Credits

An examination of Christian concepts of justice and a consideration of how to build or restore justice when injustices occur. Service learning required.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology), Justice

RST 235 Religion and Politics 3 Credits

Interaction of religion and politics in the United States and other cultures.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology), Justice, Oral Communication

RST 236 Theology and European Film 3 Credits

Analysis of a selection of foreign films to understand the artists' positions regarding the nature of humanity, of God, and of other theological themes.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 237 Images of Jesus in Film and Art 3 Credits

Development of artistic representations of Jesus and other Biblical persons along with Christian concepts and themes. Selection of European and American films as well as pertinent art from Western Christianity.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 240 Development of Jewish Religious Thought and Practice 3 Credits

Jewish religious thought and practice from biblical times to the present, including modern trends in Judaism.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 242 Introduction to the Spirituality of Business 3 Credits

Offers some suggestions about how Christianity and its spirituality, based on a vision of ultimate reality, provides practical wisdom to make wise decisions and develop the virtues necessary for happiness in a world where business contextualizes many of our decisions--as employers, employees, investors, and customers.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 314 New Testament in Literature and Art 3 Credits

New Testament themes and personalities analyzed from a scriptural perspective and compared with expressions in the arts. Relationship of religion and art, scriptural roots of Christian art.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 324 Biblical Archaeology 3 Credits

An investigation of cultures and artifacts related to the texts of the Bible. We will discuss archaeological procedures and principles and examine how archaeological evidence from the Ancient Near East helps us understand the Bible and in some cases how it supports or challenges the biblical narratives.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 325 Early Christianity 3 Credits

Historical study of the development of Christianity from its first century roots to its rise as the dominant religion of the Roman Empire.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 327 Modern Global Christianity 3 Credits

Historical study of the life, thought, and worship of Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, from the Reformation to the present.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 340 Moral Issues Today 3 Credits

Inquiry into Catholic theological moral theories and exploration of several moral problems.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 341 Catholic Social Ethics: Theological Perspectives 3 Credits

Study of the principles of Catholic Social Teachings articulated in papal and episcopal documents with contemporary applications.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Advanced Writing-Intensive, Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology), Justice

RST 342 Theological Ethics and Environmental Justice 3 Credits

Investigation of the models of theological ethics and the ways in which ethics informs human interaction with the environment.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology), Oral Communication

RST 343 Franciscan Reply to Science 3 Credits

Retrieving the mystical worldview of St. Francis of Assisi via a history of science, philosophies of science, and theology of creation.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 345 Bio-Moral Problems 3 Credits

Inquiry into Catholic theological moral theories and application of theories to problems raised by bioethics and by health care.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 353 Seven Signs of Love 3 Credits

The presence of God in the midst of the human community, as symbolized by the sacraments. Their history, interpretation, and anthropology.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology), Justice

RST 355 The Problem of Suffering 3 Credits

Suffering confronts each individual in illness, broken relationships, failures, drug abuse and death. The course addresses how God is active even in suffering.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology)

RST 360 Magic, Science and Religion 3 Credits

This course will introduce students to some of the diverse ways that cultures of the world create meaning from the chaos of the apprehended world, as well as some of the approaches that scholars of religion utilize to understand those processes. We will focus not only on 'exotic' societies and peoples, but also explore the meanings of magic, science and religion in more familiar contemporary North America.

Prerequisite: RST 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 1 (Religious Studies and Theology), Global Awareness

RST 390 Christian Marriage 3 Credits

Concentrated investigation of Christian and Catholic marriage. Examination of the history, ideas, ideals, and practices about marriage. Relevant questions from perspectives of justice, ethics, diversity, and global awareness.

Fulfills College Core: Core Capstone

RST 391 Religious Diversity in Buffalo 3 Credits

Exploration of religious diversity in Buffalo, the United States, and the world. May include visits to congregations to observe worship and interviews to learn about religious beliefs, practices, and experiences of interactions with other religious communities.

Fulfills College Core: Core Capstone

RST 392 Liberation Theologies 3 Credits

Study of the origins and development of Liberation Theology in Latin America and the ways in which it evolved among other racial, ethnic, and gender groups in the United States and elsewhere. Special attention to issues of ethics and social justice.

Fulfills College Core: Core Capstone

RST 393 Catholic Concept of Conscience 3 Credits

Study of the Catholic understanding of conscience during the past 50 years. Discussion of both personal and public ethics.

Fulfills College Core: Core Capstone

RST 400 Religious Studies and Theology Seminar 3 Credits

A seminar for RST majors and minors. This class is an advanced level seminar that will focus on some of the most influential theoretical and methodological approaches in the field.

Prerequisite: RST 101. Restriction: must be a religious studies and theology major or minor or obtain permission of the instructor.

RST 489 Projects for Majors 3 Credits

Concentrated investigation of a topic of particular interest to the student, under supervision of faculty advisor.

Prerequisite: RST 101 & departmental approval. Restriction: must be a religious studies and theology major or minor or obtain permission of the instructor.

Offered: fall & spring.

RST 496 Internship 3 Credits

Combination of teaching or religious work with special readings and theological reflection, under the guidance of department faculty. Internships require an application and approval by the associate dean.

Prerequisite: RST 101 & permission of both the department chair & associate dean. Restriction: must be a religious studies and theology major or minor or obtain permission of the instructor.

Offered: fall & spring.

RST 499 Independent Study 1-3 Credits

Independent studies allow in-depth study of a specific topic and are most often reserved for seniors who cannot otherwise fulfill a graduation requirement. Independent studies require an application and approval by the associate dean.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor, department chair, & associate dean.