Theology and Religious Studies

Department Location

Academic Building HC135
5151 Park Avenue
Fairfield, CT 06825

Department Chair

Christopher Kelly, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Contact Us

Tel: 203-371-7730
Fax: 203-371-7731

Throughout human history, religion has played an enormous role in the shaping human actions and perceptions, as well as social institutions and values. The academic study of religion involves a sympathetic yet critical examination of the human attempt to answer the questions, “Who are we and why are we here?” It also allows us to understand better the complex world in which we live, in which religious groups and ideas remain powerful forces in social events.

The study of theology and religion at Sacred Heart University therefore uses the methods of several disciplines. The goals of the program are that students engage in critical dialogue with their own religious traditions and other traditions, understand these traditions in their complexity, and develop informed answers to basic questions of human meaning.    

Humanistic in its orientation, the study of religion relies partially on the social sciences for its methodological apparatus. The student of religion must learn to play the roles of anthropologist, sociologist, and psychologist, as well as philosopher, historian, and literary critic. Specific courses in the Program examine the various symbols and myths, rituals and creeds, events and institutions that illuminate religious imagination and understanding. In addition, we encourage students to investigate the cultural interaction between religion and both the natural sciences and the arts. Finally, we offer opportunities to study particular religious traditions in depth, including a comprehensive set of courses in Catholic theology.

Programs Offered

Our Mission

The Theology and Religious Studies Program's mission is to provide opportunities for students to explore the general human longing for religious meaning and purpose. It also offers opportunities to explore in significant depth various religious traditions, including a comprehensive set of courses in Catholicism. Theology and Religious Studies courses offer students four opportunities:

  • To demonstrate knowledge of the “ways of thinking” that are characteristic of religious traditions
  • To think critically about basic questions of human meaning.
  • To apply the perspectives of religious studies to other courses of study and to matters of ethical, civic, and intellectual responsibility.
  • To develop analytical and critical thinking, writing, reading, and speaking abilities.

The program accomplishes its goals for all students in the core curriculum: each Sacred Heart University student is required to take an introductory (200 level) course in Theology and Religious Studies and the same in Philosophy. Department faculty and their courses also figure in other parts of the curriculum, such as in First Year Seminars, Critical Thinking, the Human Journey, and Liberal Arts Exploration courses. In addition, students may explore these opportunities systematically by choosing a major or minor in Theology and Religious Studies.

Student Testimonials

I work on issues dealing with poverty and preventable disease – issues I studied extensively as a Catholic Social Thought Scholar and as an Honors student. To this day I consider my professors among my most trusted advisors and partners in advocating a more just society. Clearly, Sacred Heart’s commitment to developing the whole person does not end at Commencement.

~ Mike Fazzino, The ONE Campaign     

In my full-time job I work day to day with a variety of faith communities who wish to perform service and good works in their community at our shelters. The knowledge gained through my course work gives me an edge when determining how to best match the mission goals of a specific religious group to the volunteer opportunities at my agency. My studies are very relevant to my daily life and work, often when I find myself reflecting on my time at SHU, I think that pursuing a degree in Religious Studies was one of the best decisions I made.

~ Kelly Leather, Director of Events, Communications and Volunteers at Inspirica, Stamford, CT