Honors Program to add religious studies course

Mon, 2010-11-15 08:00 -- univcomm
November 15, 2010

Since beginning in the fall of 2006, the Anderson University Honors Program has made minor changes to the coursework required of its students. Beginning in the spring of 2012, however, a significant change will occur: the addition of a new religious studies course taught by Dr. Merle Strege, professor of historical theology.

honors1“We’re very excited about this evolution in the curriculum,” said Dr. David Murphy, professor of history and co-director of the Honors Program. “It will give our scholars a chance to interact with one of Anderson University’s finest faculty members, and it incorporates an element of spiritual growth into the Honors Program.”

The Honors Program begins for students when they are freshmen, and they take one Honors course each semester through senior year. After completing eight Honors classes (which will total 25 credit hours after the addition of the new class), students receive special recognition at commencement.

The discussion-based classes usually focus on specific themes and include disciplines in English, history, science and sociology. The program has, however, always excluded religious studies—something students feel is necessary for the program’s wholeness.

“This change was something my cohort all felt was important: having a Bible class,” said sophomore Carrie Steinke. “It ties all our academics back together and makes the Honors Program more attractive.”

The Honors Program considered the possibility of adding a religious studies course after previous Honors cohorts suggested a change in the structure of students’ junior years. Two courses currently required of students will be combined to allow time for the new course Dr. Strege will teach.

“In conversations I had with some students, it seemed to me that maybe there was a missing element in the Honors Program,” said Dr. Strege. The original reason for not including a religious studies class was to avoid removing students from second tier liberal arts courses, but the program’s directors eventually asked Dr. Strege to propose a course.

“The idea was to revolve around ‘Christ in Culture,’” said Dr. Strege, describing the theme of his future class by referring to the 1956 book by H. Richard Niebuhr. “Niebuhr presents a typology of five different models of the ways he thought Christians related to the world of culture.”

According to Dr. Strege, Niebuhr’s typologies have been instrumental to Christian thinking for the last 50 years, which is why he chose the text as the foundation of his Honors course.

“This course will introduce Honors students to classic primary sources and allow them to think about Christians relating to culture,” said Dr. Strege.

The course is being finalized before its official launch next spring.

— Kelly Frye is a junior from Elkhart, Ind., majoring in biology and communication arts. Frye is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.