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Philosophy and Religious Studies

Religious Studies

Learn about the diversity and history of the world's religions

A connected world shows the importance of understanding all religions. As a Religious Studies major at St. Francis College, you have the opportunity to become an expert in the fascinating, diverse history of the world’s religions and gain insightful new perspectives on local and world events.

The College is steeped in the Franciscan Tradition of kindness, generosity, tolerance, and respect. This underscores the importance of understanding religions other than your own and learning about their diversity and history.

Religious studies is an excellent preparation not only for graduate work in religious studies, theology or religious ministry, but also for graduate studies and professional work in psychology, history, literature, philosophy, art and social science as well as political science, international affairs, and law.

About the Religious Studies Major


At St. Francis College, Religious Studies aims to enable students to understand and appreciate the religious beliefs and practices of all peoples in historical and cultural perspectives and to offer to each student the means to a disciplined reflection on the life of religious faith. This is done through the core curriculum course required of all students, electives open to all students, and the major and minor in Religious Studies.

In keeping with the Catholic and Franciscan heritage of the College, Religious Studies at St. Francis includes both descriptive study of religious history, literature and practice and constructive inquiry into religious ideas and meaning through the study of religious thought and of ethics with an emphasis on contemporary issues.

Goals & Objectives

  • To provide students with a substantive knowledge of religious traditions and a critical understanding of the enterprise of the study of religion.
  • To develop in students the ability to deal comparatively with the basic themes of religion and to look at issues of religion in the light of evidence and reasonable reflection. Each student majoring in Religious Studies will achieve competence in his or her area of concentration in an overall program of study designed in consultation with the faculty.
  • To foster among students a spirit of positive engagement with religions other than their own through class work, research and site visits.
  • To serve not only the professional aspirations and academic needs but also the personal concerns of all students who enter the program, whatever their religious background or affiliation.


Understanding Who We Are and the World We Share

The Philosophy major at St. Francis College takes up this challenge. Students are asked to address fundamental questions confronting human beings in the historical record and today.

Answering our biggest questions isn’t easy. Philosophy is what happens when we take such questions seriously. The Department prides itself on its prestigious, decades-old history, its outstanding faculty and their challenging courses.

Students receive a sound foundation for graduate study in philosophy but also in medicine, law, literature, history and theology, indeed in any field or profession that demands developed analytical skills and promotes human transformation.

About the Philosophy Major


The program provides a sound foundation for graduate study in philosophy and for training in any field demanding developed analytical skills. Its purpose is to make available for students the methods, instruments and sources needed to help them develop their intellectual lives. Only insofar as students achieve this has the College succeeded in its goal as a liberal arts college, namely, to form minds capable of responsible self-determination.

Goals & Objectives

  • To promote in students an understanding of the nature, purpose and importance of the philosophical enterprise by inviting them to engage in it personally by raising and working to answer philosophical questions of their own.
  • To respect reason as a definitive human characteristic and the truth as its primary pursuit. Students will sharpen their ability to think critically, to consider issues from multiple perspectives and in depth, to relate parts to wholes. The program emphasizes the value of critical thinking as the best way to distinguish what is worth doing and what is not.
  • To address a selection of the major philosophical questions, which are none other than the fundamental questions confronting human beings as such, through a historical study of the views of philosophers. Learning how to read a primary text from the history of philosophy, and to derive nourishment from it, constitutes an essential goal of the program.
Philosophy and Religious Studies Faculty
Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs and Academic Dean

J. Christopher Edwards

[email protected]
Office: 718-489-5235 

Jim Freeman

[email protected]
Office: 718.489.5235 
Assistant Professor

Jenny Labendz

[email protected]
Office: 718-489-3486 
Professor Emerita

K. Priscilla Pedersen

[email protected]
Office: 718.489.5235 
Department Chairperson / Associate Professor

Clayton Shoppa

[email protected]
Office: 718.489.5229 
Senior Adjunct Lecturer

Joel Warden

Student Stories


Our graduates come from all walks of life, with one thing in common: the desire and drive to serve their communities.

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