Why study religion?

The study of religion often engages controversial questions.  What is the definition of religion presupposed in its study?  What are the strengths and weaknesses that religious insiders or outsiders bring to research about religion?  What is the relationship between religion and politics or natural science or economics or any of the other arts and sciences studied within the university?  How and why do religious traditions develop or even change over time?  Does every religious community, including its principles and practices, reveal both diversity and continuity?  If so, what are the consequences of that?

The discipline of religion at NWU is distinctive in that the Religion and Philosophy Department offers introductory and upper division courses in both Christian theology and Biblical studies AND in comparative studies of world and tribal religions.  As a private, church founded and church related school, the department of religion is committed to an exceptional course selection for students considering seminary or Christian ministry, with courses such as Old and New Testament, Life and Teachings of Jesus, Life and Letters of Paul, Christian Theology since the Enlightenment and New Testament Greek.  Complementing these courses, the department also pursues descriptive and comparative approaches to a broader study of religion.  Courses such as World Religions, Jews and Christians, Christians and Muslims, Religious Diversity in the U.S., and 20th Century Religious Studies emphasize identifying, interpreting, and drawing thoughtful conclusions from the material culture, practices and texts of a variety of religions.  This collection and interpretation of a wide variety of religious expressions includes a winter term class that travels to the Encounter World Religions Centre in Toronto, Canada to observe and participate in a variety of religious rituals and events, and to interact with a range of religious communities.

At NWU, the study of religion regularly includes the practice and refinement of critical reading and thinking skills, the crafting of appropriate and persuasive oral and written arguments, and a quest for appreciation of religious pluralism within a global context and community.  As a comparatively small department, members of the faculty for the study of religion pride themselves on the intense educational experience they can provide for students, including smaller sections of upper division courses, the practice and guidance of students in becoming better, more confident, readers and writers, as well as more prepared either for continuing education in graduate school or for a variety of possibilities for more immediate entry into professional life.  For at least the last thirty years, it has become just as likely for religion majors to attend graduate school in fields such as law, physical therapy, political science, history, theatre, or womens studies as it has been for them to attend a graduate school in religion or theology.  A Baccalaureate degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a major in religion opens many doors of opportunity for an exciting future.