A Passion for Religion
The Department of Religious Studies at Elmhurst, the oldest of the College’s departments, carries on the school’s tradition of religious scholarship grounded in a practical liberal arts education.
The Department of Religious Studies carries unique responsibilities in light of Elmhurst College’s historic origins and contemporary mission. Having been established in 1871 by the German Evangelical Synod of the Northwest to educate the church’s youth to become pastors and teachers, Elmhurst College has grown into a comprehensive and nationally recognized college that fosters the integration of intellectual development, personal integrity and early professional preparation. And still today, the College maintains a healthy relationship with the United Church of Christ.
Drawing on its rich and living heritage, the Department of Religious Studies continues to affirm religion’s historic importance in all civilizations, to study the variety of ways that culture and religion are mutually influential, and to examine the world’s great religions as irreplaceable expressions of human culture and ultimate reality. To this end, the academic study of religion will of necessity be carried out with critical thought, the best contemporary scholarship, and free and open inquiry without religious indoctrination.
The Department of Religions Studies is a vital expression of the mission, core values and educational goals of Elmhurst College. The Department is a diverse and caring community of scholars—professors and students—who together are willingly driven by curiosity, personal concerns, critical inquiry, and intellectual integrity to study all things religious in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.
The Department recognizes that each student who decides to major in religious studies is unique, possessing different strengths, experiences, preferences and goals. The department, therefore, places ultimate decision-making in the hands of the students with personal academic advising from a full-time professor, and provides a variety of ways for students to begin their study, for example, in literature, scriptures, theology, ethics, spirituality, science, mysticism, or world religions. As students progress through their college career, they may also choose to study religion in short-term courses in India, Israel, Palestine or South Africa.