Every Concordia student gets a chance to experience the in-depth teaching in the religion department through core courses. Many elect to dive deeper into what the department offers, discovering more about world religions including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism.

Classes range from biblical Hebrew to how pop culture shapes religion and religion shapes pop culture. Coursework in religion will help students to lead an examined life by building up self-knowledge and compassion for others throughout the world.

Programs of Study

Religion Major or Minor

Religion courses will teach you history, diversity, tolerance, leadership, critical thinking, and analytical writing. Religion majors and minors are encouraged to pursue an emphasis that develops their particular interests and passions and prepares them for their vocational aspirations.

Major in Religion with Faith and Leadership Concentration

Courses in the faith and leadership concentration develop your capacity for resilient faith-based leadership in our interconnected and rapidly changing world. The faith and leadership concentration offers you the advantage of pre-professional preparation that can be customized to meet your individual needs, to help you develop your particular talents and interests, and to enable you to pursue your specific vocational aspirations. Students who choose to concentrate are equipped to lead in faith communities, service organizations, nonprofits, outdoor ministry settings, and other professions. Many students in the concentration choose to go on to a graduate program. For more information on this concentration, contact Dr. David Creech.

Interfaith Studies Minor 

The interfaith studies minor promotes interreligious literacy with the cultivation of skills and competencies necessary for living in a pluralistic world. This is an emerging academic field that has a practical aim of developing professionals who can “responsibly engage the world” as interfaith leaders.

Career

Where can you go with a religion major? Anywhere you like. Religion majors find careers all over the map. While some work in religious settings, many others work in businesses, higher education, and social justice organizations.

Special Opportunities

If you want to experience rich conversations, opposing viewpoints and the opportunity to view faith from various religious perspectives through scholars who have expert information, spending some time in the religion department is just the place for you. Better yet, travel with some of these expert faculty members to religious sites around the world including Egypt, Greece, Italy, India, China, and more.

Santorini, Greece

The Santorini, Greece, experience is a monthlong abroad opportunity that combines the Religion in Global Context course with cultural immersion on the island of Santorini and in Turkey. This experience introduces students to basic language skills, cultural experiences, and the study of religion in Greece and Turkey. It introduces students to the complexity of the academic study of religion and its relation to culture in a global arena in a way that will help students develop critical knowledge and thinking skills about some of the most pressing modern social issues of our age – in this case, the Greek/Turkey refugee crisis.

Degree Requirements and Courses

Required Courses

Additional Requirements

One interfaith studies course, selected from the following (4 credits):

A student can petition to use a 390 or 490 from another discipline (with permission of a faculty advisor/supervisor from that discipline and the approval of the interfaith studies minor co-chairs) if the practicum involves work or activity relating to interfaith cooperation or religious diversity.

8 additional credits from the following interfaith studies non-religion courses:

Required Courses

Additional Requirements

  • 16 credits (4 credits from each mode of inquiry), as identified in the catalog (interpretive studies, historical studies, comparative studies and constructive studies). The Religion 300 J course counts as a course in one of the areas of study. The second Core religion course would be included as one of these four courses. 
  • 12 additional elective credits from religion (REL) courses*

*Notes: Elective credits can include REL 211 – Biblical Hebrew I and REL 212 – Biblical Hebrew II; 4 credits in REL 390 – Cooperative Education or 4 credits in REL 490 – Practicum can be counted in elective credits. When offered, REL 210 – Invitation to the Study of Religion will count as one of the courses.

The requirements for the religion major are flexible enough to allow students to tailor their studies in religion around their specific interests and passions. Religion majors (and minors) are encouraged to pursue an emphasis that develops their particular interests and passions and prepares them for their vocational aspirations. A list of possible emphases through which religion majors and minors can focus their study of religion include: 

Students are encouraged to organize the religion major around an emphasis (see below). Religion 100 and Religion 300 Core courses are counted in the nine courses for the major. Students should normally declare a major by the end of the second year and develop a plan of study in consultation with a department advisor. Religion majors can earn honors for superior achievement in coursework. Upon the recommendation of the department’s assessment committee, honors will be awarded on the basis of grade point average and the senior research seminar paper.

Religion majors and minors may choose to pursue one of these emphases, or they can combine any of these emphases or create their own emphasis in consultation with a faculty member in the religion department. This consultation will enable students to select religion courses that are most conducive to pursuing their particular interests and developing expertise surrounding those interests. Students are generally encouraged to cluster three or more courses around an emphasis. It is also strongly recommended that students enrich their emphasis through study away experiences, such as the semester abroad programs in Hong Kong, Jerusalem, and India; the summer courses in Greece and South Africa; the Exploration Seminar in Israel and Palestine; and Justice Journeys. Although religion emphases are not monitored by the registrar and do not show up in DegreeWorks, they can help religion majors and minors identify, communicate, and promote their specific interests and expertise in religion during and after their years at Concordia.

Concentrations

Religion, Ecology, and the Body

Do animals, trees, and rivers have souls? Are religions responsible for climate change? Is sexual desire sinful? What is a “good body?” These are the kinds of questions students pursuing the Religion, Ecology, and Body Emphasis can explore through their study of humans as embodied beings who depend on the eco-systems they are a part of for sustenance and survival. This emphasis develops students’ skills for thinking critically about the concrete effects of religious and cultural beliefs, systems, and values on diverse human bodies and on the environment, and for envisioning the flourishing of all bodies, human and non-human alike. For more information, please contact Dr. Lelwica.

Sacred Texts and Contexts

Where in the world do these sacred texts come from and how do we make sense of them? The Sacred Texts and Contexts Emphasis seeks to answer these and other vital questions. Students pursuing this emphasis can explore the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam from three angles: 1) the diverse historical, cultural, linguistic, and religious contexts out of which these sacred texts emerged; 2) the multifaceted perspectives on life, purpose, God, and the world these literary works contain; 3) varied interpreters of these texts of differing economic and social circumstances, racial, ethnic, sexual and community identities, and historical periods. For more information, please contact Dr. Creech or Dr. Solvang.

Religion, Ethics, and Social Justice

Many of the world’s great social justice leaders have rooted their activism in their spiritual convictions, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, Mahatma Gandhi, Wangari Maathai, and the Dalai Lama. Religion has inspired some of the most important forms of resistance to oppression by individuals and communities. Tragically, religion has also perpetuated grave injustices in matters related to economics, gender, race, and sexuality. The Religion, Ethics and Social Justice Emphasis explores religion’s roles as perpetrator and resister in the struggles for justice. For more information, please contact Dr. Creech, Dr. Pranger, or Dr. Solvang.

Religion and Global Diversity

How do cultural differences and social divisions affect how religious people in different parts of the world live out their faith? The Religion and Global Diversity Emphasis invites students to closely examine religious traditions, practices, and cultures around the globe, and to explore the relationships between and within different religions (including world Christianity). Students pursuing this emphasis will be challenged to develop interreligious and intercultural competency and sensitivity. They will also develop skills for contextualizing, historicizing, and questioning their own worldviews and assumptions, thereby clarifying their own views in conversation with the perspectives of others. For more information, please contact Dr. Mocko or Dr. Pranger.

Christian Histories and Traditions

The Christian Histories and Traditions Emphasis looks at the fascinating traditions and ideas of the past. Have you ever wondered how Christianity came to look the way it does? Students interested in questions like, “What is the nature of God?,” “Why is there suffering?,” “How do I live a good life?,” and “What is evil?” will enjoy the Christian Histories and Traditions Emphasis. Through this emphasis, students will study ideas about religious history, spirituality, biography, community, and conflict, as well as the influence of religion in past societies. For more information, please contact Dr. Hammerling.

Faith and Leadership Concentration

The religion major with a faith and leadership concentration prepares students for work in a variety of faith-based organizations. The concentration is designed to address contemporary needs for religious literacy. Students in the concentration complete the religion major plus courses related to the study of sacred texts and their public uses, life in a pluralistic world, vocational self-understanding, and faith and leadership.

The requirements for a major in religion with a faith and leadership concentration are 48 credits:

Required Courses

Additional Requirements

The minor in religion can be used for different educational goals, including enhancement of a course of study in another discipline and/or personal enrichment.

The requirements for a minor in religion are 20 credits. REL 200 and REL 300 J courses are counted in the five-course requirements for a minor. REL 211 – Biblical Hebrew I and REL 212 – Biblical Hebrew II may also be counted for a minor as can FL 201 – Faith and Leadership. Inquiry courses taught by a religion professor can also be petitioned to count toward a religion minor. Students may select any religion courses beyond those meeting the Core religion requirement, except for REL 390 – Cooperative Education and REL 490 – Practicum. Religion minors are encouraged to work with a religion faculty advisor to choose courses that support an emphasis (see above) based on their particular interests. Students should normally declare a minor by the end of the junior year. Students may apply to transfer the equivalent of two courses and no more than 8 credits from outside the college.

Required Courses

Additional Requirements

  • 4 credits from courses in each of the four modes of inquiry, as identified in the catalog (interpretive studies, historical studies, comparative studies, and constructive studies).
  • 16 additional credits in religion (REL) courses*

Faith and Leadership Practicum

Courses in the faith and leadership concentration prepare you to “influence the affairs of the world.” In this concentration, you develop deep knowledge about faith and about leadership, and gain practical experience engaging both by working with churches, service organizations, and other nonprofits. Students in the interfaith minor also have opportunities for practicums and internships in the community. The religion major with a faith and leadership concentration is designed to easily pair with other majors or minors. For more information on the faith and leadership practicum, contact Dr. David Creech.

Winnipeg Orthodoxy Weekend

For over 40 years, the religion department has hosted a tour to Winnipeg, Canada to introduce participants to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. All interested students, faculty, and staff should inquire at the religion department office for details. The trip is hosted by Fr. Mirone Klysh of St. George’s Episcopal Church and Dr. Roy Hammerling of the Religion Department. We make visits to the Coptic (Egyptian) Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches.

Religion Enrichment Lecture

Dr. Anne Mocko, associate professor of religion, presented the 2020 Religion Enrichment Lecture "Cooking in a Karmic Kitchen: Notes on Jain Food Disciplines."

The lecture is split into two segments:

Segment 1: Introduction to Jainism

Segment 2: Jain Food Disciplines

Mathetai

Mathetai is a student organization for students pursuing a major or minor in religion but is open to any student with an interest in religion. The group meets monthly or bi-monthly to engage in open, respectful conversations about religion and theology. Past events have included trips to Orthodox churches, movie and discussion nights, and the annual pancake cook-off between religion professors.

Three Faiths: A Journey to Israel and Palestine

Dr. Elna Solvang and a group of religion students examined “the complexity of religion in the world” during a PEAK Seminar to Israel and Palestine in February 2018. They met with religious representatives and visited Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities and religious sites in Israel and the West Bank.

World Christianity Semester – Hong Kong

Experience Christianity in a new light. Study four religion courses at the Lutheran Theological Seminary (LTS) in Hong Kong, and gain an opportunity to see the international Christian mission firsthand in one of the most energetic and internationally oriented cities in the world.

Destination: South Africa May Seminar

What role does religion play in apartheid in South Africa and the reconciliation or retribution during the process of change? You can answer those questions through firsthand experiences during a study abroad experience with religion professors Jan Pranger and Elna Solvang. Offered alternating summers.

Studying religion at Concordia led me to understand religion in its broader cultural, social and personal contexts. I was given multiple lenses into studying Christianity, especially, and learned just how complex faith and religion can be.

– Kristi Del Vecchio '13, Academic Initiatives Manager, Interfaith Youth Core
Contact

Dr. Elna K. Solvang

Chair/Professor, Religion Religion, Women's and Gender Studies