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Religion Department

About the program

Augustana College offers a major and minor in the study of religion. The department's 10 full-time faculty all have the Ph.D. and together teach from a wide range of religious, theological and philosophical perspectives.

Intersections fall 2014 issue

Intersections is a publication by and largely for the academic communities of the 26 colleges and universities of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Each issue reflects on the intersection of faith, learning, and teaching within Lutheran higher education.

Augustana's liberal arts core curriculum includes a Christian Traditions course, providing every student the opportunity to think about and wrestle with the religious, theological and ethical issues of life.

Affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Augustana educates students with a distinctively multidisciplinary approach that is foundational to pursuing further studies in any discipline, and to living a life that makes a difference.

Students taking religious ethics classes learn to analyze and assess ethical arguments from a variety of perspectives, and are empowered to form their own ethical views on important and timely issues — from reproductive technology to economic globalization, and from homosexuality to global warming.

Students engage in conversations about religious meanings, practices and beliefs as well as questions of existence and values as expressed in diverse traditions. Through academic and critical perspectives, students learn to integrate different views that consider history, sociology, archaeology, philosophy, ethics and faith.

Courses in the religion department also contribute to the academic programs in African American studies, anthropology, Asian studies, business administration, church music, classics, education, Medieval and Renaissance studies, medicine, and women's and gender studies.

Outside the classroom

Religion classes at Augustana often consider the religious communities of the Quad Cities and beyond as part of their "textbook," and challenge students to think about how religious traditions differ from and relate to one another.

Students learn by experience as they interact with local communities from different faith backgrounds.

Some religion courses also use service learning as part of the classroom experience; students participate in various aspects of local religious community life, such as tutoring, working in soup kitchens, leading youth groups or activities, and other forms of community service.

One of the college's wide variety of international experiences is "Faiths in Dialogue," a 10-day traveling course to Rome. In Rome, students engage in discussion with church officials and study early Reformation Christianity as they explore such historically prominent places as the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica and San Giovanni in Laterano. Another popular off-campus program is Holden Term, in which students spend six weeks in a remote, idyllic, wilderness retreat center in the Cascade Mountains studying care for creation, home-growing community, and discerning their vocations.

Augustana offers more than 150 extra- and co-curricular student groups. While several of these are related to specific forms of religious belief — such as the Catholic Student Organization, the Muslim Student Organization and campus ministries' Interfaith Understanding Group — these activities also represent the broad range of religious thought on campus, which provides a valuable setting for studies in religion. The pre-seminary program, in conjunction with Augustana's CORE (Careers, Opportunities, Research and Exploration), offers resources and support for students interested in pursuing graduate theological studies and a career in church leadership.

What students say

Jonathan Langdon '09, religion and classics double-major:
"At Augustana I have been blessed with the opportunity to study under professors who are at the same time intellectually brilliant and spiritually vibrant. They have taught me to think critically and academically about religion, and yet also have strengthened my faith. I have been very pleased with the diversity within the religion department, which offers classes on Islam and Eastern religions, and the department prepared me well for an internship as a youth coordinator at South Park Presbyterian Church. In this internship youth come to me with their questions, and now after my time at Augustana I am able to at least begin to answer them."

Elizabeth Johnson '10, religion and classics double-major:
"Augustana's religion department fosters an open and engaging learning environment with professors who are constantly encouraging students to think critically.... The classes are wide-ranging and allow everyone to find his or her own niche within the study of religion, while exposing students to all kinds of fields of study. The professors focus on encouraging each student to think like a religious scholar, and help to improve each student's ability to defend his or her views. This ability to critique an argument and form an educated counter-argument is an essential skill that will help me succeed no matter where life takes me."