Avila University
RS/PLCollege of Liberal Arts and Social SciencesApply Online for FREE

While the predominant orientation of this program is towards enriching your sense of purpose and commitment to values of social justice, care for others, and dignity for all, we also realize your need to enter the workplace with skills and practices which facilitate successful career choices. In today's job market, employers find a host of qualified candidates with training suited to complete tasks and activities. However, employers increasingly seek candidates with the following skills: critical thinking, analytic writing, cultural understanding and sensitivity, communicative empathy and intellectual initiative. Our program focuses upon these marketable skills.

Finally, our integrated major is just that- a mutually-enriching and critical dialogue between two disciplines that are central to the liberal arts at a Catholic institution. In keeping with the tradition of such institutions, faith and reason are taken as valued standpoints from which to approach academic work and community life. Thus, the ordering signifies neither hierarchy nor dependency of one discipline upon the other. Rather, students will grapple with problems, themes and questions from shared and distinctive standpoints.

  • Develop a global understanding of relationships among religious beliefs, reasoned inquiry, and human values
  • Analyze and evaluate significant philosophies, religious ideas or discourses in order to systematically and critically articulate one's own spiritual, intellectual and/or ethical commitments
  • Explore the distinctiveness of rational inquiry as a unique form of human understanding, motivation and justification
  • Investigate historical, socio-cultural and political dimensions of diverse religious traditions and practices
  • Refine your understanding, interpretations and critical perspectives through writing, speaking and collaborative work

    The outcomes for Philosophy and Religious Studies are assessed through oral presentations, examinations, experiential learning and extensive writing. In the final year of study, students will synthesize and utilize their learned skills of cultural understanding, critical thinking and intellectual initiative through critical, independent research, writing and presentation within the Senior Seminar as well as either within the thesis/defense or experiential option.

Major Requirements

    The Philosophy and Religious Studies major provides common courses for all majors as well as self-selected courses within one's chosen concentration of Philosophy or Religious Studies. All majors also complete an interdisciplinary and integrated senior capstone course, then chose one of two options: Option I is an international/intercultural experience followed a public presentation; Option II is writing a senior thesis and providing a public, oral defense of that thesis.

    A. Core Courses (21 hours):
    • PL 111 (Introduction to Philosophy) or PL 255 (Ethics)
    • RS 111 (Introduction to Religious Studies) or RS 117 (World Religions)
    • PL/RS 221 (Philosophy of Religion)
    • One of the following: PL 113 (Critical Reasoning), PL 238 (Social & Political Philosophy), or PL/WS 226 (Feminist Philosophy)
    • One of the following: RS/WS 225 (Catholicism), RS 231 (Christianity), RS 233 (American Religious History), RS 251 (Islam) or RS 252 (Judaism)
    • FL courses: Minimum of six credits of Foreign Language courses

    B. Concentration (15 hours):

      Majors concentrate in either Philosophy or Religious Studies. For a concentration in either students must take the major core requirements outlined above, along with 15 more credits in either area. Nine credits of the concentration must be at the 300 or 400 level.

    C. Senior Capstone course (3 hours):

      In this course taken the Fall semester prior to graduation, students from both disciplines work through a global theme, analyzing and evaluating issues and problems within that theme from the perspectives and methodologies of both disciplines.

    D. Senior International/Intercultural Experience or Thesis and Oral Defense (3 hours):

      Option I: Working with one's major advisor, students who choose the international/intercultural experience may choose one of the following options: a course which has an international and/or intercultural travel component, a service or service-learning opportunity within the Kansas City region or within the broader U.S., or an intercultural practicum or experience designed in conjunction with your major advisor. Within this experiential option, students work with their major advisor to design a public presentation component that draws together their academic studies with this experience.

      Option II: Students who choose the thesis/defense option must complete this work in their Senior year. Working in conjunction with a faculty member in the discipline of concentration, students will write a twenty-five to thirty page thesis, utilizing extensive research, critical analysis and argumentation. Two to four weeks before graduation, students will give a public talk, based upon the paper, and answer critical questions from both the thesis committee and the general audience.

Avila University
11901 Wornall Road, Kansas City, MO 64145
Religious Studies & Philosophy
Ken Parsons, Ph.D., Chair, Religious Studies & Philosophy