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What is Religious Studies?

Very few things have the impact on human culture that religion does. Our values, our understanding of ourselves as individuals, our understanding of society, our view of nature, even our definition of truth, stem from concepts originally fostered in a religious environment.

Religious Studies is the exploration of the expression of religion in human culture. It explores human ideas about the divine, as well as the way religious concepts are expressed in texts, rituals, and belief systems. It studies the history of religion as well as important religious figures. It analyses the influence of religion on other aspects of culture, as well as the influence of culture on religion. As an academic discipline Religious Studies is not limited to a single tradition or religion; it encompasses all religions from all cultures and all times: it is global in scope and multicultural in tenor.

The Department of Religious Studies at MUN explores these questions in a non-confessional setting. This means that the "truth-value" of any religious outlook is not at issue. We do not ask whether a religion is right or wrong. Rather, we ask how and why a religion is meaningful to the people who practice it. 





Dr. Barry Stephenson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, and Doreen Westera (MScN, MEd), Associate Professor at the School of Nursing, have been named as team members of a research project on Spirituality in End-of-Life Care. The project was awarded a $25,000 developmental grant by Saint Elizabeth's Research Centre, and runs through 2014. The project includes the contributions and participation of Dr. Peter Barnes, of Eastern Health's Regional Palliative Care Leadership Team. The research examines the spiritual dimensions of end of life care and how spiritual care can be organized and supported in secular-oriented healthcare organizations. 

Trevor Pomeroy, second-year M.A. student in the Department, who recently won the prestigious Rothermere scholarship that he will hold for PhD studies at Oxford University. For more, see this story in the Gazette and this one in the Telegram. 

Rebecca Ralph, second-year M.A. student in the Department, who has also accepted a generous funding package to study at the University of Calgary for her doctoral studies. Well done!

For our undergraduate students: “What on earth are you going to do with a degree like that?”