About the Department

  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Goals
  • Programs
  • Courses
  • Assessment

Culture

Our programs engage theology actively, fully, and consciously informed by the breadth of theological and cultural traditions. Analogous to Augustine’s way of "doing" theology, we contextualize the study of Christian faith claims meaningfully within an analysis of contemporary culture, relating faith and culture for our time as Augustine did for his.

Tradition

Enriched by the tradition of St. Augustine, whose theology powerfully related faith, reason, and culture, our programs envisions "understanding what we believe"(*) as faith engaging culture and develop this particular relationship within the Augustinian tradition. In the Augustinian tradition, theology never is an "end-product" but a reality that emerges in interaction with contemporary culture.

(*) Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will, bk. 1, §4, trans. Thomas Williams [Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993] p. 7. Anselm of Canterbury later reformulates, "faith seeking understanding."

Integration

Theological studies in the Augustinian tradition as conceived, studied, and advanced at Villanova aim to integrate knowledge. That is, at Villanova no single theological discipline studies faith engaging culture in isolation. It is accomplished by placing the entire range of theological perspectives in dialogue with each other.

Synthesis

Our programs are built upon the theological and educational vision of the Augustinian tradition that "there is no better way to pursue the truth than by questioning and answering" (neque melius quaeri ueritas possit, quam interrogando et respondendo; Sol. II.7.14). Implementing – in theory and practice – the Augustinian ideal of unity (unitas), truth (veritas), and compassion (caritas), we pursue knowledge in depth, breadth, and rigor on all program levels.

The Augustinian Character of Our Vision

graphic of areas taught in the department

We are a multidisciplinary academic faculty within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and rooted in a Roman Catholic, Augustinian heritage. We investigate Christian and non-Christian religious practices, beliefs, and traditions as we explore faith, reason, and culture in their many, textured relationships. Moreover, we emphasize the study of Catholicism in dialogue with other Christian traditions and world religions. With this endeavor, the Department serves as a resource for the University community, the extended local community, the national and global communities, and the Church.

We are committed to the Augustinian vision of “understanding what we believe” (On Free Choice of the Will 1.4). Just as Augustine engaged the cultural, intellectual, and religious traditions of his time to elucidate the nature of faith, we seek “the wisdom of truth” (veritas) in dialogue with learners different from ourselves (unitas) and with care for the world and its peoples (caritas). In so doing, we pursue a distinctively Augustinian way of knowing and loving God and neighbor that is holistic, integrative, and transformational.

We involve students of every religion, culture, and worldview in examining the enduring quest of faith seeking understanding. This quest is Christianity’s gift to a liberal arts education and a cornerstone of the Villanova experience. Furthermore, we regard religious, theological, and cultural literacy as the mark of a person educated in the Augustinian tradition and an indispensable resource for transforming global society into one enlightened by compassion, justice, and peace.

Approved on April 02, 2014

Foundation Course (THL1000) Learning Goals

Goal 1

Articulate how theological concepts and religious practices and beliefs reciprocally interact with diverse cultural contexts, local and global.

Goal 2

Correlate theological/religious and cultural responses to existential life experiences such as friendship and loss, beauty and suffering, love and injustice.

Goal 3

Evaluate the significance of Christian practices, beliefs, and traditions for personal, communal, societal, and global living.

 

Revised 05/05/2017

 

Undergraduate Program (Major) Learning Goals

Goal 1

Gain an understanding of the purposes, central issues, and methods of inquiry standard in theological and religious studies as applied to faith engaging culture.

Objective A

Analyze fundamental issues that frame theological and religious inquiry using appropriate scholarly methods, with attention to diversity and inclusion within the issues.

Objective B

Use critical methods to read, analyze, and interpret diverse religious and theological texts (e.g., women, minorities, non-western) and related genres or media, art, and artifacts (e.g., prayer, mystical writings, autobiographies, film, music).

Goal 2

Engage Christianity, with attention to Roman Catholicism, as a living tradition of practices and beliefs that continues to be refined, developed, and extended through time in diverse cultural contexts.

Objective A

Demonstrate understanding of the unique vocabulary, foundational sources, theological beliefs, historical developments, and diverse thinkers in the Christian tradition, with attention to those that reflect on the experiences of power, privilege, and marginalization.

Objective B

Articulate how Christian practices and beliefs reciprocally interact with diverse cultural contexts, local and global.

Goal 3

Render theological concepts and religious practices and beliefs intelligible, meaningful, and relevant in contemporary cultural contexts as a basis for transformative action in the world, in dialogue with others.

Objective A

Recognize the complexity and diversity of religious practices and beliefs and seek to understand people whose values and senses of the sacred differ from their own.

Objective B

Evaluate the relevance of theology/religion for personal, communal, societal, and global living.

Revised 05/05/2017

Master's Degree Programs (M.A./M.T.S.) Learning Goals

Goal 1

Engaging Faith and Culture

Objective A

Engage theology informed by the breadth of theological and cultural traditions.

Objective B

Contextualize faith meaningfully within an analysis of contemporary culture, relating faith and culture for our time as Augustine did for his.

Goal 2

Integrating Knowledge

Objective A

Bring theological perspectives (and their methods of analysis) in dialogue with each other: biblical, historical and Augustinian, fundamental/systematic theological, cultural, ethical, spiritual, and ministerial.

Objective B

Integrate theological knowledge and experience in course work.

Goal 3

Learning in the Augustinian Tradition

Objective A

Nurture a way of knowing that is in­fused with care and love or, to use an Augustinian metaphor, knowing with the heart and the mind.

Objective B

Integrate faith into the social and cultural environment beyond the classroom.

Master of Arts w/Certificate in Pastoral Ministry Program Learning Goals

Goal 1

Theological and ministerial knowledge in the Augustinian tradition.

Objective A

Explain theological arguments and their significance for lay ministry.

Objective B

Describe biblical, historical, ecclesial, and theological perspectives on Christian ministry (with a primary but not exclusive focus on the Roman Catholic tradition).

Objective C

Evaluate the resources of the Christian ecclesiological and ministerial traditions in light of the questions raised by contemporary culture and the continuing challenges of human life.

Objective D

Examine academic practices of inquiry and discovery for professional ecclesial lay ministry.

Goal 2

Spiritual growth and development.

Objective A

Discriminate Augustine’s call to the restless search for wisdom by actualizing relationships with God, the world, and its people.

Objective B

Engage one’s mind and deepen one’s Christian life by integrating the speculative (mind) and practical (heart) in one’s theological and ministerial studies and practices.

Objective C

Deliberate and form judgments about the implications of Christian moral principles for building a more just, sustainable and peaceful world.

Goal 3

Effectiveness in pastoral ministry and leadership.

Objective A

Evaluate pastoral practices that clarify the gospel for contemporary culture and promote the care of persons in the Church.

Objective B

Apply systematic theological reflection on ministerial practice and experience to systematic and critical reflection on one’s pastoral presence, skills, and gifts in ministerial service.

Objective C

Analyze the Church’s teachings on the universal call to holiness, including the concept of baptismal vocation, and discern their pastoral application and relationship to the role of ministers as leaders in faith communities.

Objective D

Assume positions as productive, ethical, intellectual, and socially responsible citizens, leaders, teachers, and ministers.

Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Theology Program Goals

Goal 1

Analyze culture(s) and the dimensions of faith and lived experience from interdisciplinary and integrative perspectives and develop new possibilities for Christian experience and knowledge.

Goal 2

Integrate theological knowing and cultural expressions of that knowledge. 

Goal 3

Evaluate theological knowing in the Augustinian tradition as both speculative and practical, and distinctive in its emphasis on the union of mind and heart.

Goal 4

Assume the role of a productive, ethical, intellectual, and socially responsible leader, scholar, and teacher.


The Foundation Course in the Core Curriculum


Course Description

As an integral part of the Arts and Sciences Core Curriculum, the foundation course THL1000 (Faith, Reason, and Culture) introduces students  to the rich living tradition of Christianity: the sources, traditions, practices, and major thinkers that have  shaped Christianity’s responses to the fundamental human questions that underlie all religions and shape  the human search for meaning. 

With a particular focus on Roman Catholicism, students engage Christianity as a living tradition of beliefs and practices that have developed over time in local and global cultural and religious contexts and that, loyal to the living God to which they point, are ready to be transformed again. Students engage Christian truth‐claims, themes, values, and witness as resources for analyzing and critically evaluating contemporary cultural challenges. In this course, students are equipped to appreciate the ongoing quest of Christian faith seeking understanding as it enters into conversation with all human knowledge and experience, including other faith/religious traditions.


Courses for Majors and Minors


Course Descriptions

See Master Schedule for Summer 2018 Undergraduate Course offerings!

2018 spring

2017 fall

Capstone Courses

To enhance the academic experience in TRS programs we offer distinctive capstone courses. They differ in significant ways from other courses in that they lead students to reflect on the various components of their major/secondary major curricula and to achieve synthesis in significant culminating experiences.

Capstone Course I: Research Seminar, THL 6300

Students normally take the research seminar in the junior year. The seminar focuses on individual or group research projects that participants design with the help of a faculty facilitator. It emphasizes your active role in the learning process, which implies limited reliance on lectures and extra weight given to you using the methods of THL/RST disciplines to explore fields and topics of interest to you on your own. Rather than repeating others’ work, your will independently (individually or in groups) wrestle with the unknown, discover knowledge, develop expertise in confined fields of research, and present your research progress and product to your peers.

Capstone Course II: Advanced Seminar, THL 6500

Taken in the senior year the advanced seminar stands as the culminating experience of your studies in the major and secondary major. Using higher-order learning, in the seminar, you consolidate and synthesize knowledge by bringing THL/RST fields together or putting elements of theory and/or practice together in an original form. The seminar is organized around student-lead conversations informed by the central theme studied and advanced in all programs offered by the THL/RST department: Faith seeking understanding, engaging culture. Students wrestle with the relationships between faith, religion, theology, and culture as experienced and studied throughout their undergraduate career at Villanova. With the help of a faculty facilitator students choose the seminar topics and teach them to their peers, simultaneously learning to organize and facilitate discussions. Thus, the seminar involves students communicating their explorations or discoveries. In other words, this communication includes a final product, and its precise form will vary by topic, encompassing the possibility of artistic expression as well as customary forms of scholarly communication.


Courses for Graduate Students


Course Descriptions

Semester Schedule


Courses for Doctoral Students


Course Descriptions

Semester Schedule


Statement of Effectiveness


The Department of Theology and Religious Studies offers comprehensive programming in undergraduate, master’s and doctoral studies. Villanova’s Augustinian heritage is reflected in a “faith engaging culture” approach integrating the mind and heart in service of the church and world. We are in the process of employing a portfolio review system to assess each of our programs in light of their distinct learning goals. Theology and Religious Studies undergraduate majors pursue a wide array of careers including ministry, education, medicine, law, and graduate studies.

Master’s students find placements in ministry, education, and doctoral studies. The PhD in Theology program was launched in Fall 2016. The integral Theological Education Formation Program will prepare doctoral students for roles of educational leadership within the academy and beyond.


Portfolios


Undergraduate Programs

Graduate Programs

Doctor of Philosophy in Theology