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Department of History, Philosophy, and Theology

Programs of Study


Catholic Studies


The Catholic Studies minor gives students a chance to integrate their education and understand the different ways of knowing as different disciplines seek for truth. Students learn the fundamentals of Catholic scripture and tradition, as well as what they say about God, humanity, the natural world, virtuous living, and religious diversity. Catholic Studies minors also learn to engage ethical problems thoughtfully and actively, and contribute to the work of peace and justice.

The minor requirements include a Theology and a Philosophy course, plus four courses from the General Education distribution requirements; a 300-level Theology course; and participation in the Catholic Studies Learning Community for four semesters. As part of this learning community, which meets outside of regular class sessions, students attend various university events, enabling them to form a deep community with each other and with the faculty advisors.

Vatican Statues

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major, minor

History is the analysis and interpretation of the human past that enables us to study continuity and change over time. It is an act of both investigation and imagination that seeks to explain how people have changed over time. Historians use all forms of evidence to examine, interpret, and reinterpret the past. These include not just written documents, but also oral communication and objects such as buildings, artifacts, photographs, and paintings. Historians are trained in the methods of discovering and evaluating these sources, and the challenging task of making historical sense out of them. Nevertheless, historians do not always agree on interpretations of the past: their debates help expand and enhance our understanding of human development.

When you choose to study history at Benedictine, you will learn to acquire, understand and synthesize discipline-based knowledge through intensive work with primary sources. You will also examine and come to understand the dominant historiographical schools of thought, their development and change, as well as understand the trends and challenges facing the discipline and the historian's craft. And as a student of history, you will confront ethical and moral issues from our historical past, make connections to the contemporary moment, and gain insight into the historical interdependence of the United States with the rest of the world historically. In so doing, you will discover, in a broad way, the economic, social and political interdependence of nations historically and the implications for the future of a globalizing world.

Cannon at Valley Forge

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History at Benedictine!

Interfaith Studies


The goals of the Emphasis are: to help students of any major become interfaith leaders conversant in the theory and practice of interfaith engagement; to learn transferable skills, including interviewing basics and techniques for speaking across cultural/religious boundaries; and to enable students to integrate interfaith studies into any major.

Completion of this emphasis will make graduates more attractive on the job market, given the diversity of Chicagoland and our country, and the great need for such sensitivity in any field--from business to education to medicine.

The Interfaith Studies Emphasis requires the completion of 12 credit hours (4 courses) plus a co-curricular course (0 credit hours). The “Emphasis” designation will be listed on the transcript. Completion of the Emphasis also meets the requirements for Engaged Learning/Learning Community. Students will choose one of two introductory courses (RELS 2285 Religion in America or THEO 2235 Interreligious Dialogue), three elective courses from an extensive interdisciplinary list, plus one of two co-curricular options (either INQ 1111 Interfaith Oral History Archives or LCOM 1112 Christian-Muslim Dialogue).

Interfaith Studies


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major, minor

It was Pythagoras who first invented the term "philosophy" ("love of wisdom"), observing that wisdom in the strictest sense belongs to God alone. For that reason, he wished not to be called a wise man, but simply a friend or lover of wisdom.

The academic discipline of philosophy trains the mind to think clearly, helping you to develop an interest in exploring ideas and questions you may have never previously even considered. Traditionally, it deals with the deepest and most enduring human questions concerning reality, knowledge, and language by approaching them through reason. It furthermore explores these central issues as they affect all thought, such as in relation to change and permanence, knowledge and belief, unity and diversity, and the meaning of goodness, value, truth, and beauty. Philosophical reflection and investigation also inquire into the assumptions and presuppositions that other academic disciplines take as axiomatic, or as "givens." At Benedictine, philosophy courses contain a strong measure of and commitment to the overall Catholic philosophical tradition; however, this commitment is always in relation to wider historical, general, and global philosophical trends.

Benedictine's philosophy program offers a student- and curriculum-friendly path to a double major, a special pre-law program for both majors and minors, and the opportunity to work closely with a knowledgeable and dedicated faculty. As a philosophy major, you will confront and attempt to resolve ethical and foundational issues, while learning how humanity's greatest thinkers have sought to understand global civilization. You will study the history of ideas, investigate ethical principles and their many contemporary applications, and explore classic questions regarding the nature of the human person and the structure and make-up of reality. In doing so, you'll gain new insight into a wide range of current issues, aesthetic experiences, and human affairs.


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Social Science


Benedictine's major in Social Science provides students with a broad introduction to the various social sciences. It is designed for both teaching certificate candidates and those not interested in becoming teachers.

The courses in this program for students in the Teacher Education program were selected to meet the requirements of the Illinois State Board of Education for Social Studies teachers. The basic major for teachers consists of a 24-semester-credit-hour history field, covering both world and American history, a 9-semester-credit-hour political science field, and 3 semester credit hours each in anthropology, geography and sociology.

For students not pursuing teacher licensure, the general Social Science major consists of a 21-semester-credit-hour option in history, economics, political science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, or criminal justice, along with either an 18-semester-credit-hour option in another of the above fields, or two 9-semester-credit-hour options in two of the above fields.

East German sign

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major, minor

Theology literally means "talk about" or "knowledge of God." It is distinguished from religious studies in that its starting point is faith. In short, it is "faith seeking understanding," as St. Anselm famously put it.

College-level theology is a rigorous academic discipline which explores God and the God-human relationship in light of scripture, tradition, and reason, and as such is distinct from the kind of basic religious education a student might obtain in high school or at a parish. Theology students learn what Catholic scripture and tradition say about God, humanity, the natural world, religious diversity, virtue, and ethics, while also coming to understand the study of religion as an interdisciplinary task, relating to the arts and humanities on the one hand, and the social sciences on the other. Benedictine University is proud of its Catholic heritage, but we also welcome and respect the diverse faith traditions of our community. The theology program is designed especially for the lay person. And in addition to theology and religious studies courses which serve the intellectual needs of our students, University Ministry provides opportunities for Catholics to grow spiritually and to engage in interfaith dialogue and service projects with Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs, Jews, and other Christians on campus.

Benedictine's Theology program begins with a series of four thematic courses: Theology of Love, Theology of Freedom, Theology of Justice, and Faith and Science. These four core courses cover, to a greater or lesser extent, all aspects of the traditional areas of Catholic theology (scripture, systematic theology, sacramental theology, historical theology, and moral theology) and together comprise the basic Theology Certificate. Students who opt to major or minor in theology build on this foundation, choosing upper-level courses that suit their interests and career goals.


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