Santa Clara University

Religious Studies department

The Core Requirement in Religious Studies


Description of the Core Requirement in Religious Studies

Requirement: All students attending Santa Clara University for a four-year undergraduate degree are required to take three courses, from each of three levels, from the offerings of the Department of Religious Studies.
Purpose: These courses are integral to the affirmation of the University's Catholic identity, promoting a dialogue between faith and contemporary culture and exemplifying a commitment to academic excellence and freedom.
This requirement enables students to cultivate a critical and scholarly understanding of the Bible as sacred scripture and of other sacred scriptures; of the Christian tradition in its historical, ethical, and theological dimensions; of religion in its social and cultural contexts; and of the methods of scholarly inquiry utilized in the study of scripture, religion, and theology.


Relation to the Core Curriculum

Broadly speaking, Religious Studies courses grapple with an array of issues and perspectives that embody and parallel the over arching themes or stages envisioned for the core.

  • In relation to the core theme of "Community: A Sense of Person and Place," Religious Studies courses regularly require students to reflect on the question, "Who am I?," as they ponder their relationship to sacred writings, rituals, and myths.

    Since "religion" often involves understanding the binding of the individual to such materials, the quest for clarity regarding self-identity in the midst of community forms a focal point for religious studies investigation and reflection, particularly at the introductory level of religious studies course work.
  • In relation to the second theme, "Global Societies: Methods of Inquiry, Interaction, and Analysis," Religious Studies courses ask, "What is the World Like?"

    Such courses, predominantly at the second level of the religious studies curriculum, promote the examination of a variety of religious worldviews, spanning ancient traditions, the modern technological world, and east-west interaction. This breadth of exposure helps students realize the complexity and richness of life lived in modern global society.
  • In relation to the third theme, "Leadership and Perspective," Religious Studies courses at the advanced level give students the intellectual tools to explore with depth and clarity the question, "What is my relation to the world? How should I act?"
  • Courses at this level challenge students to develop the intellectual tools necessary for leadership in a world of diverse religious movements and for complex moral decision-making in that world.


Areas of Study

Religious Studies courses foster an engaged, critical, and integrated understanding of religion in the University's tradition of Jesuit liberal education. Courses are offered in three broad areas:

  • Scripture and Tradition
  • Theology, Ethics, and Spirituality
  • Religion and Society

You may "mix-and-match" the areas of your three religious studies courses in any way you wish. That is, you could take all three in just one of the above areas, or you could take one in each of the three areas, or you could create any other combination you like. Only Religious Studies Majors and Minors need to be sure they take a representative sample of courses from each area.


The Requirement

The requirement is:
  • One introductory course (numbered 1-19)
  • One intermediate course (20-99)
  • One advanced course (100-199)

These three courses should be taken according to the level and sequence indicated below.
  • The introductory course is ordinarily taken during the freshman or sophomore years.
  • The intermediate course can be taken in sequence in the sophomore or junior year.
  • The advanced, upper-division course must be taken after the first two classes and after students have achieved junior status by completing 88 quarter units.
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