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Bachelor of Arts in Humanities - Concentration in Religion Studies

Program Outcomes

Students who complete all five courses for credit will

• demonstrate foundational understanding of the texts, origins, and central teachings of the major living religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Shintoism

• explore and analyze spiritual ideas across history and cultures

• demonstrate understanding of a global perspective that recognizes the dynamics of world religions’ thought and practice on current issues and events

Program Participants

We welcome community members as well as enrolled Thomas University students interested in obtaining a broad understanding of the history, beliefs and practices, and contemporary issues of major world religions and the sacred texts that they value.

Who would be interested in this program?

Persons seeking …

• foundational studies for formal seminary training

• enhanced global perspective through knowledge of the dynamics of religions’ thought and practices

• exploration of spiritual ideas across cultures and history

Four ways to take advantage of this program of study:

1) As an emphasis within the Bachelor of Arts in Humanities degree program with courses applied to a concentration in English, Music, or Art

2) As a minor in any degree program at Thomas University

3) As a five-course Certificate of Religion Studies for college credit

4) On a course-by-course basis for community auditors (on a space-available basis). Auditors are expected to participate in the online forum; exams and other graded assignments are optional.


• Courses are eight weeks in length

• Delivery model is hybrid – the class meets face-to-face with the professor one evening per week and includes online learning and interaction using a course site

• Hybrid courses are accessible, user-friendly, and TU provides tutorials and academic technology assistance for new Blackboard users

• Two courses run each semester – 1st 8 weeks then 2nd 8 weeks

• Courses can be taken in any order


Prerequisites: No specific prerequisite courses are required for Certificate and auditing students, but students should be able to demonstrate solid writing and research ability. Certificate and auditing students apply to Thomas University as Special Students. Enrolled Thomas University students in the Humanities degree program or taking Religion Studies courses as electives must have completed ENG102 Composition II.

Courses taken within the Certificate program are for undergraduate credit; therefore, students must apply and be accepted to Thomas University in order to register.

Five Courses for a Certificate of Religion Studies

Words People Live By: Exploring Religious Texts: An exploration of the foundational texts (scriptures) of the major world religions, with an emphasis on their major theological ideas as well their historical development.

History of World Religions: A survey of the development of religious ideas in early human communities as well as the origins and central teachings of the major living religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Shintoism.

History of the Christian Church: A survey of Christian history from its beginnings in Judaism, its recognition by the Roman Empire, the Great Schism, the Protestant Reformation, colonialism as well as the development of both liberal and fundamentalist Christian world views in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Contemporary Issues in World Religions: An exploration of the ways in which world religions both influence and are influenced by contemporary world events with a focus on issues of war and peace, economics, ecology and gender.

Special Topics in Religion Studies: Courses exploring more specific topics of interest and relevance in Religion Studies, such as True Believers: Fundamentalism and Mysticism in Religious Traditions; Justice, Holiness, and War; Religion and Environmentalism.

Lead Professor

Austin Newberry, a native of Northwest Florida, grew up and received his early education in the Pensacola area. Heading to the Midwest for college, he received a B.A. in history from Saint Meinrad College, a M.A. in religious studies from Indiana University, a M.Div. from Saint Meinrad Area of Theology and a M.A. in Applied Spirituality from the University of San Francisco. After 10 years of college administration and teaching in the religion department at Saint Meinrad College, Mr. Newberry returned to Florida where he spent 9 years working as a program administrator for The Florida Bar. Mr. Newberry currently works for the Florida Supreme Court’s Office of the State Courts Administrator where he helps coordinate training and the provision of technical assistance for family court judges and court staff.

Education that Engages... Empowers... TRANSFORMS

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