Students interested in the study of Religion at LR have options in two majors: Religious Studies or Religious Development. Courses completed in either program are designed to help individuals clarify their religious convictions and life goals, as well as to provide preparation for persons who anticipate further study.
Religious Studies majors explore ideas and texts that have profoundly shaped human history and identity. It is an academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. Through coursework and in-depth discussion, students will explore, compare, interpret, and explain religion, emphasizing systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives.
Religious Studies majors take courses in scriptures, religious thought, and the intersection of religion and culture. Special courses include upper-level seminars in each subject area and special-topic electives for students to choose from based on their own personal interests. Through this 36 credit hour program, students gain valuable skills in attentive reading, persuasive writing, argumentation, and dialogue on potentially sensitive and often controversial topics. These skills are useful not only in daily living, but for a wide range of careers that value the spiritual and emotional dimensions of human existence.
The Religious Development major shares similar coursework but further focuses on providing practical training and hands-on experience working in religious organizations as well as social service agencies and other community-focused and non-profit organizations throughout the region. This 42-hour program blends a rich attention to the academic components of religious study with applied study and experiences.
LEARNING OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
Religious Studies students benefit from a variety of opportunities outside of the classroom, which offer the experience and training employers are looking for. A wealth of service opportunities exist on and off campus, from chapel and student-led organizations to internships and conferences.
Internships and mentor opportunities also help students gain valuable experience, working alongside of professionals in non-profit, social services, or religious based organizations. There are a number of student organizations at LR which provide spiritual support and service opportunities such as Lutheran Student Movement, InterVarsity, and the Newman Club.
Students can also take advantage of many programs offered through Lenoir-Rhyne’s Institute for Faith and Learning including its annual speaker series.
Success in Religious Studies or Religious Development opens doors to a full range of graduate programs or a variety of career opportunities. Studying religion gives people a unique set of skills in critical thinking, of understanding other cultures, and observation. These skills are often highly sought after by many employers. Religion graduates know how to synthesize ideas, how to explain ideas to others, how to persuade others to their point of view, and how to understand the people who make any business work. Students learn all types of skills that are transferable and marketable: reading and analysis, speaking and writing, picking up ideas quickly, critical thinking, pedagogy, pattern-finding, drawing conclusions from evidence, persuasion, and so on. Religion students are encouraged to think about why they are on earth, about where they are going, about what some of the greatest and most creative thinkers in the past have said about the meaning of human existence and about what is most worth doing in life.
These skills and dispositions translate generally to a wide range of professional opportunities. More specifically, Religion majors are prepared for graduate school and/or for career opportunities in the ministry, in social activism and advocacy, in governmental or non-profit agencies, in Christian education, in counseling and human services, and in higher education.
The Religious Studies and Religious Development majors earn a BA degree. Students also have the option to complete a minor in Religious Studies.