About the Department
The Beginnings of the Department
Early faculty of the Department in 1976: Lauren Brubaker, Hal French, Don Jones, Kevin Lewis, and Carl Evans.
The Department of Religious Studies at the University of South Carolina, provides undergraduates with an opportunity to explore the variety and depth of the world's religious traditions, including their histories, scriptures, systems of belief, rituals, sacred art, and social institutions. Both a major and a minor are offered.
History of the Department
Lauren Brubaker, flanked by Don Jones &
Hal French, demonstrating the principle of
what to do about evil.
The Department of Religious Studies was awarded departmental status in 1949 when Dr. Lauren Brubaker, the USC University chaplain, inaugurated one of the first programs in the country for the critical academic study of religion. For the first ten years, Dr. Brubaker was the sole faculty member teaching all courses. The undergraduate major was established in 1968 with the addition of Dr. Don Jones to teach biblical courses. The faculty gradually increased over the decades to include professors in Asian studies, cultural studies, Islamic and Jewish studies. In 1988 a masterís degree was added.
There are currently five full-time professors with the department. The original graduate program was ended in 2010 but the department is constructing a new masters program which will serve the vision and focus of our students in coming years.
The Department of Religious Studies is housed in Rutledge College on the historic USC Horseshoe, the tree-shaded site of the University's original campus, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Rutledge College is the oldest building of the University and contains the historical chapel as well as honor student residences. The USC campus is located in the heart of Columbia's business district and just a few blocks from the South Carolina State House.
Lauren Brubaker (1914-2010): Founder
Department Early Years: 1949-1980
A curriculum of over 40 courses is designed to help students acquire expertise in at least one major tradition while at the same time challenging them to take seriously a wide diversity of religious expression and meaning. Students who are seeking a broadly based education in the liberal arts will find the Department's program especially valuable, for it is in the very nature of religious studies to draw upon the methods and insights of many different disciplines, such as philosophy, literature, history, psychology, international studies, anthropology, and art. Students frequently combine a major or minor in one of these fields with a program of study in religion.
The Department is very proud of its strong teaching record. Its faculty include former winners of the University's AMOCO and Mungo Teaching Awards as well as awards from the USC Mortar Board and the South Carolina Honors College. Class sizes range from as many as 100 in introductory courses to as few as 15 in small upper-level seminars, but in every case faculty are dedicated to working closely with students and to assisting them in pursuing their personal interests and career goals.
current teaching faculty in the department are:
- Stephanie Mitchem, Department Chair
- James S. Cutsinger, Director of Undergraduate Studies
- Kevin Lewis, Professor
- Katja Vehlow, Assistant Professor
- Erin Roberts, Assistant Professor
teaching part time
- Hal W. French, Professor Emeritus
The following teach Religious Studies courses in the School of Continuing Education
- Donald L. Jones, Professor Emeritus
- Randy Akers, Adjunct Faculty
- Terry Dohm, Adjunct Faculty
- Cheryl Rhodes, Adjunct Faculty
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