New Degree Program Request:
Proposal for a Bachelor of Arts – Religious Studies Major
Log Number: 201008-67
Religious Studies, as an academic discipline, fits squarely within the liberal arts tradition emphasizing clear thinking and writing as well as other tools with which to understand and appreciate the growing diversity present in our world. Rather than approaching religions from the standpoint of a believer seeking “Spiritual Truth,” Religious Studies seeks an understanding of the origins of particular traditions, how they function, and what purposes they serve. There is strong interest in Religious Studies on the part of students at UNF, indicated by the fact that we have approximately 100 minors and that that number has been consistently growing and that both the religious studies program and Academic Advising regularly receive requests from students for a major. In February 2010 an email was sent to the Program Coordinators or Department Chairs responsible for the five Religious Studies majors at institutions in the SUS. Responses are summarized in the full proposal, but they all agreed that student demand is strong and were enthusiastic about another major in the SUS. The courses upon which the major will be built are largely already on the books or currently taught as special topics courses as part of the religious studies minor. These courses are currently offered by Religious Studies faculty and affiliated faculty primarily in Philosophy, Sociology and Anthropology.
A religious Studies Major will help foster SUS system level goals, as is also outlined in the full proposal. Those goals include: fostering access to and production of degrees by virtue of student demand; meeting statewide professional and workforce by providing a well-rounded liberal art education applicable to such fields as diverse as law, journalism, international business, education, human resources, and work with non-profits and healthcare institutions engaged with diverse populations; building world-class academic programs and research capacity by virtue of our strong faculty in this field; and, finally, meeting community needs and fulfilling unique institutional responsibilities. While the 1963 Supreme Court decision in Abington Township v. Shempp removed religious practice in the form of school sponsored prayer and devotional bible reading from public classrooms, the decision also declared that “education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization.” This makes the study of religion part of the institutional responsibility of higher education generally.
(Religious Studies BA Proposal Attachment)