School of Religion renamed

‘We’re not here to promote faith, but rather to promote the understanding of religion as a human phenomenon’

Religious studies professor Pamela Dickey Young says she thinks the name change recognizes a cultural shift where more students have an interest in understanding religion as a cultural form as opposed to training in the Christian theology.
Religious studies professor Pamela Dickey Young says she thinks the name change recognizes a cultural shift where more students have an interest in understanding religion as a cultural form as opposed to training in the Christian theology.
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The newly-renamed School of Religious Studies reflects a shift in students’ academic interests, religious studies professor Pamela Dickey Young said. On Tuesday, Queen’s held a ceremony in Theological Hall to mark the renaming of the University’s theological college and religious studies department to the School of Religious Studies.

Principal Daniel Woolf, incoming provost Bob Silverman and religious studies department head William Morrow spoke at the event.

Dickey Young said she thinks the name change recognizes a cultural shift where more students have an interest in understanding religion as a cultural form as opposed to training in the Christian theology.

“The name change shows that far more students are currently interested in religious studies than in theological studies,” she said.

Young said the name change isn’t an official merger between the theological college and religious studies department. Both will continue to run separate programs.

However, the theology curriculum will be changed in order to streamline degree programs, she said.

“The undergraduate students and the [master’s] students will not really experience any difference in their day to day lives, because they will still continue to be governed by the Arts and Science and the School of Graduate Studies,” she said.

Morrow said the School of Religion doesn’t change the relationship between the religious studies department and Queen’s, adding that this change recognizes the increase in demand for religious studies by students.

Morrow said the School of Religion consists of several components, including undergraduate and graduate teachings in religious studies and theology.

Morrow said students won’t be experiencing much change, as most changes lie within the administrative system.

“The most important [administrative] change is that the next time Queen’s School of Religion appoints a chief officer they are to be both the principal of the Theological College and the head of Department of Religious Studies,” he said.

Morrow said he thinks it’s important for people to recognize that the religious studies and theology components of the school aren’t the same.

“The department of religious studies approaches the study of religion from a perspective that is neither confessional nor sectarian,” he said.

It’s one in which anyone— whatever their cultural or religious background or lack thereof—can find a place, Morrow said, adding that the new school hopes to bring Queen’s further multi-faith services in the future.

“We’re not here to promote faith, but rather to promote the understanding of religion as a human phenomenon.”

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