This year has been a blast! Religious Studies hopes all of our students have a safe, productive, fun-filled summer break. See you in August!
CofC Department of Religious Studies
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University School of the Lowcountry seeks to develop active and informed citizens of America and our world who can think for themselves, serve the greater community, and successfully chart a path through life. They are steeped in current events, civics, and the peoples, faiths, and cultures in America and across the globe.
While navigating the pandemic over the past 22 months, we've also engaged in the following:
- We've sustained a COVID relief program for students and families associated with our Charleston County School District friends at Midland Park Primary School, Pinehurst Elementary School, Ladson Elementary School, and R.B. Stall High School. This includes school supplies, food, books, toys, cleaning items, and clothes gathered and distributed on Saturdays since March 2020.
- To do our part to help with the 2020 Election, members of our high school created an area Youth Polling Worker Project. We secured 30 youth poll workers for the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration. This is now a permanent facet of USL, and our students served as poll workers across Charleston County on Election Day 2021.
- We've visited and met with leaders of various houses of worship to learn more about their religions and their operating during COVID. This is a long-standing tradition at University School that has taken on heightened significance during the pandemic:
* Dr. Elijah Siegler, College of Charleston CofC Department of Religious Studies - "Why it is important to learn about religions?"
* Chaplain Major Richard O. Schultz (U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School)
* Dr. Jeremy Rutledge (Circular Congregational Church, Charleston)
* Rabbi Stephanie Alexander (Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE) Reform Jewish Congregation of Charleston)
* Father John Cox (Holy Ascension Orthodox Church)
* Imam Abdel Majid & Dr. Ghazala Javed (Central Mosque of Charleston)
* Rev. Dr. Kylon Middleton (Mount Zion AMEC - 5 Glebe Street)
* Pastor Sara White (Hibben UMC)
* Rev. Yhanco Monet (Charleston Interreligious Council)
* Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum (Synagogue Emanu-El)
* And, in December 2021, we took a live virtual tour of the Old City section of Jerusalem to see and ask questions about significant sites to Christians, Jews, and Muslims
- We've role modeled the successful use of outdoor learning as a middle way and safe in-person option so there is not just a choice between remote learning and inside buildings. This has included lobbying local, state, and federal officials to make outdoor learning spaces (tents) legal and easily available for all of South Carolina's students.
- We are a school that explores elections and the democratic process, and this means hearing from candidates/office holders and learning about different political parties in even-numbered years (the 4 major ones in 2020 - Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, and Green). 2021 was municipal elections which are non-partisan, so our speakers reflected this. To demonstrate substantial civics preparation and civil conversations are possible, we hosted, heard from, and asked questions of the following during the 2021 election cycle:
(1) Mount Pleasant Council Member Howard Chapman
(2) Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie
(3) Mount Pleasant Mayoral candidate Kathy Landing
(4) Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration Director Isaac Cramer
(5) Julie Hussey (League of Women Voters Charleston)
- Students learn to serve others as adults by actively engaging and serving their community as young people. Each student contributes 50+ hours of service through our program that is integrated into our school day. This includes annual participation in the Trident United Way's Days of Caring which is in addition to our whole school weekly COVID relief program for students and families-in-need in North Charleston.
Our students see and experience the world first-hand through regular field trips and many more, and they contribute their time and talents to uplift others and get to know the rich array of people in our community, country, and world.
Dr. LeVasseur counts learning from the students in his class, often about how to be a better human and to have hope for the future, among his proudest accomplishments.
As CofC Department of Religious Studies major/ Department of Philosophy College of Charleston minor at College of Charleston, he was inspired by Dr. June McDaniel and Dr. Lee Irwin. Before graduating from CofC, Dr. LeVasseur spent his sophomore year at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA, where Dr. William Herbrechtsmeier became another powerful mentor.
While there, Dr. LeVasseur encountered old growth redwood forests for the first time and also saw the grand ancient trees being logged. As a result, he fused his environmental activism with his interest in religious studies and ventured to figure out how cosmologies and concepts of the sacred inform the treatment of the natural world. His journey took him to the Univ. of Florida for his Ph.D. in religion and nature, the only Ph.D. program of its kind.
The question that now guides his path is how can the human animal, from individual to global scales, learn to actively generate just, regenerative, and sustainable behaviors and lifeways as we move into the Anthropocene, if at all? The question motivates the courses he teaches in religious studies, environmental and sustainability studies, the First Year Experience First Year Experience at the College of Charleston, College of Charleston Honors College, and as an affiliated faculty member with CofC Women's and Gender Studies. It also motivated research on his new book, Climate Change, Religion, and Our Bodily Future.
He says his favorite memories include seeing students walk across the Cistern at graduation each year, knowing they’re heading out to make the world a better place. He also treasures the friendships he’s made across campus while directing the QEP on sustainability literacy.
Dr. LeVasseur enjoys listening to roots reggae, surfing, reading, and spending time with his family, and he dreams about “a world without racism, sexism, speciesism, queerphobia, and other intersectional oppressions, and that’s gotten off of fossil fuels.”
The HSS Scholar Awards are presented annually and celebrate the top one to two students chosen by their departments in each of the 11 undergraduate major programs within the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. This year, Scholar profiles will be posted on HSS social media outlets, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, this week as well as on the HSS Scholars page on the College of Charleston website: https://hss.cofc.edu/scholarships-awards/hss-scholars/2021-awards.php
Please join faculty, students, family and friends in celebrating our scholars and all of their amazing achievements during their time at the College of Charleston! 👏👏👏
• Dr. Elijah Siegler
• Dr. Karyn Amira
• Dr. Jordan Ragusa
• Dr. Kendra Stewart
Read more on each panelist here: bullypulpitseries.org/11-3-the-2020-presidential-election-conjectures-and-consequences-part-i/
This panel is open to the College of Charleston community and general public. It is also co-hosted by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the College of Charleston and will be moderated by Dean Gibbs Knotts. 👏
Tune in next Tuesday, November 3rd @ 4PM! Event link here: linktr.ee/cofcbullypulpit. (Stay tuned for more info on Part II of this panel, scheduled for Nov 10.)
College of Charleston Department of Political Science CofC Department of Religious Studies The Riley Center for Livable Communities
The Department of Religious Studies at the College of Charleston The department offers a broad range of courses in religious traditions from around the world.
The Department of Religious Studies at the College of Charleston offers both a major and minor degree in religious studies. With eight full-time faculty members, the department supports a wide-ranging, diverse curriculum and fosters close interaction between students and faculty. Students may choose to specialize in individual religions or subject areas through special topics courses and tutorials
Operating as usual
You got this!!!
Reading Day is Thursday, 4/27/23. Take a break from studying, and join us in supporting RELS and Honors graduating senior, Allen Duggar, as he defends his Bachelor's Essay at 330 pm in Arnold Hall. There will be a reception/open house immediately after with light refreshments.
Come join us as we listen to Dr
Cressler!!! Right Now in RSS 235
Today! April 18th! 3:30PM! JSC 333! Dr. Troy Mills from Claremont McKenna College will discuss how the themes captivity, enslavement, humanity, and dignity in the context of colonialism and racial oppression in Black Atlantic Religious histories make up the core of the Black Religious experience in the Americas and Caribbean Islands. Come join us.
Religion is EVERYWHERE! Even in hit HBO TV series. Prof. Deanna Daniel's will examine how it shows up Lovecraft Country, and how Black Religion and horror transforms culture. Please join us.
RELS Reels #3 is going down this Thursday, 3/30/23 at 7 pm with Dr. Siegler in ECTR 118. Going him for the movie, snacks, and discussion.
The first one was so nice that we had to do it twice. The RELS Alumni Spotlight Lecture was so awesome last fall, we are doing it again this spring. Come listen to Madeline Leibin ('18) reflect on her journey from undergrad at CofC to conflict resolution worker in Israel to law school student at NYU on 4/3/23 at 330 pm in JSC 233.
It's time to make those advising appointments so you can be ready on your day according to hours earned. Spot in our office to pick up a brochure of all summer and fall 2023 offerings.
It's time to make those advising appointments so you can be ready on your day according to hours earned. Stop in our office to pick up a brochure of all summer and fall 2023 offerings in detail.
Postponing Dr. Cressler's sabbatical talk to 4/20/23 in RSS 235 because our Cougars are playing in the big tournament at the same time. Mark your calendars and be there to support both.
Remember when Dr. Cressler was gone for a whole year on sabbatical? Well this is what he was doing. Come listen to him share is findings this interesting intersection of religion and popular culture on 3/16/22 at 330 pm in ECTR 118.
Come join Dr. Lowe TONIGHT, 2/28/23 at 7 pm in ECTR 118 for our popular film series, RELS Reels. Movie #2 of the semester is Jonestown. There will be a lively discussion of the movie, and light refreshments will be served.
Scan the code with your smartphone's camera, and help us help our students!
In Spring of 2022, Religious Studies Major Allen Duggar presented his research, titled “Let Ev’ry Land Their Tongues Employ: Ritual Democracy Among Shape Note Singers,” at the annual meeting of the AAR Southeast Region and at CofC’s Undergraduate Research Expo. Funded through the Honor’s College and sponsored and advised by RELS faculty, Allen’s ethnographic research project examined the obscure but persistent practice of “shape-note” singing as a form of ritualized democracy. He won first prize for undergraduate research in Humanities and Social Sciences at the Expo, and he was subsequently presented with the first Excellence in Undergraduate Research Award by the RELS Department, an award that would not have been possible without the generous donations of alumni, parents, faculty and friends of RELS.
Today is the the day. Show your love for Religious Studies. Make a donation to RELS at CofC to keep outstanding guest speaker like Natasha Akery coming for our students and the entire college community. Link in bio.
Every little bit helps. Click on the like to make your donation. https://cofcday.cofc.edu/campaigns/religious-studies-department
If you didn't get to hear Natasha Akery speak last night, you missed a real treat. Thank tou share sharing your very emotional and very entertaining stories about your time as a RELS major at CofC.
The Department of Religious Studies is proud to welcome one of our own for a lecture on "Heritage, Identity, and the Biracial Experience". Come listen to RELS alumna, Natasha Akery ('09) on 11/29 at 5:30 pm in ECTR 116.
Join Drs. Bjerken and Siegler for movie number three in the RELS Reels film series, "Kundun" at 7 pm in ECTR 116. Snacks provided. All are welcome. 📽🎬🍿
Join Dr Bjerken and Siegler for movie number three in the RELS Reels film series, "Kundun" at 7 pm in ECTR 116. Snacks provided. All are welcome. 📽🎬🍿
Coming soon! Dr. Pinn will be presenting on the nature of life and death as told through the album DAMN. Join us on 11/1!
RELS Reels is a great opportunity to apply religious studies to our modern contexts. Swipe right for our semester schedule!
Wanna get more involved with RELS? Join our club! There’s great opportunities for trips, discussion, and more. Join the GroupMe or message us with your info.
Attention RELS Majors and Minors! Our Open House has been postponed from today to next week.
The new date is 9/20, at 3:30 in the 4 Glebe Street Lounge. Please share with your friends. See you all there!
More events to come! Keep track of our page to stay up to date on all our cool activities!
Join the CofC Department of Religious Studies for a “RELS REELS” film offering! 🎥🍿
Monday, September 19, at 7pm in ECTR 116. Everyone in the College of Charleston community is welcome! A five star and two thumbs up MUST SEE!!
Meet the faculty. Meet current and prospective majors and minors. Preview the RELS courses for Fall 2022. All students are welcome. Drinks and refreshments will be provided. Tuesday, 9/13/22 at 3:30 pm in the RELS Lounge, 4 Glebe St.
The Charleston County School District (CCSD) recently announced five teachers as their finalists for the 2022 Teacher of the Year. One of them was our very own RELS alum, Natasha Akery ('09).
In her role at Academic Magnet, Akery designs and facilitates professional development for administrators, faculty and staff pertaining to diversity, equity and inclusion. Akery also facilitates professional development for CCSD English language arts and social studies teachers inspired by culturally responsive teaching and restorative practices.
CCSD will announce the winner later this month. Congratulations Natasha!!!
Congratulations to the newest RELS alumni at CofC!
RELS senior, Allen Duggar recently presented his research at the American Academy of Religion Southeast conference and EXPO 2022 at CofC. "Let Every Land Their Tongues Employ: Ritualized Democracy among Shape Note Singers" was well received at ARSE 2022 and won "Outstanding Poster in the Humanities" at EXPO 2022. Congratulations Allen!!!
Join RELS in support graduating senior, AJ Williamson as he defends his Bachelor essay tomorrow, 4/26/22 at 3:30 in Arnold Hall.
Bonus RELS Reels tonight with Dr. Bjerken!!! ECTR 219 at 630!
We have a BONUS RELS Reels for Spring 2022. On Apr. 19 at 630 in ECTR 219. Dr. Bjerken will be there to view and lead a discussion about the movie Samsara (2001). Come join for the last film of the semester.
The final film ofbthe very successful RELS Reels series is this coming Wednesday, 4/6/22. The movie is Dune (2021) based on Frank Herbert's 1965 novel. Join us in ECTR 118 at 630 pm.
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he Department of Religious Studies at the College of Charleston offers both a major and minor degree in religious studies. With eight full-time faculty members, the department supports a wide-ranging, diverse curriculum and fosters close interaction between students and faculty. Students may choose to specialize in individual religions or subject areas through special topics courses and tutorials. The flexibility of the curriculum gives students the opportunity to explore diverse cultures and religions, while providing them with important tools to understand and interpret these worldviews critically.
The religious studies department introduces students to the academic study of religion, which engages in the descriptive and cross-cultural analysis of religious beliefs, practices and institutions, both past and present. The teaching orientation is comparative and non-sectarian in that it does not promote any specific religious tradition to the exclusion of others. The department offers a broad range of courses in religious traditions from around the world. It encourages students to complete courses in the areas of western traditions (such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), eastern traditions (such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese and Japanese religions) and American religions (such as Native American, African American, and many New Religious Movements). Students become more deeply aware of their own cultural traditions by studying those of others, and will approach other religions with greater empathy and sensitivity to their respective complexity.
Religious studies at the College of Charleston is both a comparative and interdisciplinary enterprise. It serves as a bridge between various disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, particularly those of history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy and literature, as well as various language programs. Courses explore various religions through a variety of dimensions and themes – ritual, myth, symbol, mystical experience, cognitive patterns, gender, ethnicity, identity – and they also consider the role played by political, economic and social factors on the development of religions in their global context. Religious studies thus provides a coherent disciplinary context where students can engage in a holistic and sustained examination of the history, diversity and ingenuity of human belief and behavior, one of the hallmarks of a liberal arts and sciences education.
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