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Department of

Theology and Religious Studies

Introducing the Department

The University of San Diego is a Roman Catholic institution dedicated to academic excellence, ethical conduct, and diversity. In its mission statement, the University of San Diego describes itself as a Roman Catholic institution dedicated to academic excellence, ethical conduct, and diversity. While the Catholic identity is central, USD at the same time affirms the inter-religious openness of Vatican II, welcoming “students, faculty and staff of every faith tradition… believing that a person's faith intensifies and deepens when enriched by understanding other religious traditions.” The contribution of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies is integral to the university’s mission, so articulated.

The department, through its theologians, historians, and scholars of biblical studies, grapples with questions of Christian history and thought, the content of biblical witness, and their continuing relevance today. It engages students, faculty colleagues at USD, and the wider community–academic and non-academic–in critical dialogue on these issues. Department faculty working in ethics, both Christian and comparative, similarly involve students and wider audiences in decisive questions of moral choice and social justice. Our experts in religious studies explore with students and their academic colleagues the vital historical and contemporary role in human affairs of the world’s religions. Our curriculum is both ecumenical and cross-cultural, fostering a keen appreciation of the centrality of religious experience in human life and history as well as the wide diversity of its expression, both in contemporary American society and around the world.

Our faculty offer a wide-range of courses in theology, biblical studies, and religious studies. In addition to our undergraduate program, the department houses an M.A. program in Pastoral Care and Counseling.

The department has a reputation for rigorous courses and instructors that challenge students to think critically, undertake research, and write well. We pride ourselves in our careful, personal mentoring of our majors and minors. Students routinely praise our courses and faculty for “making them think,” “expanding horizons,” and giving them a “new intellectual appreciation” of their own religious heritage and that of others. All THRS majors spend a demanding year in the department’s capstone seminar, where they learn research methods and hone their writing skills while preparing research papers on substantial topics for oral presentation in the spring semester of their final year. Given our relatively small number of majors, we are pleased that we have had seven Phi Beta Kappa initiates in the past three years (2004-06).

The members of this department are dedicated to teaching and providing a first-rate learning environment in the classroom and through advising and other student support mechanisms. This dedication is demonstrated by our faculty’s regular participation in the university's honors and preceptorial programs, as also the fact that one of our number received an “Outstanding Preceptor” award for 2006.