Religious Studies and Philosophy Department

Religious Studies Library Resources
Philosophy Library Resources 

Marie A. Conn, Ph.D., Professor of Religious Studies, Chair 
Carolynne Ervin, M.A., Instructor of Religious Studies

Mary Kathleen Flannery, SSJ, DMin, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

William A. Lauinger, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Catherine Looker, SSJ, DMin, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Patrick J. McCauley, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Religious Studies 
Catherine T. Nerney, SSJ, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Mary Ellen O'Donnell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Chestnut Hill College offers minors in Religious Studies with a Certificate in Religious Education; Religious Studies and Philosophy; Philosophy; and Peace and Justice Studies, an interdisciplinary minor. A Certificate in Religious Education for teachers and religious educators in parishes or parochial schools is also available as a standalone program; students who complete a Religious Studies minor earn the certificate automatically. Students who choose to pursue a minor in Religious Studies; Religious Studies and Philosophy; or Philosophy must complete an application form and confer with a faculty advisor. These forms may be obtained from Dr. Patrick McCauley, Room 370, Fournier Hall. Those who choose to pursue the interdisciplinary minor in Peace and Justice Studies may obtain the form from Dr. Marie Conn, Room 206, St. Joseph Hall. Students must earn a grade of C- (1.70) or better in courses required to successfully complete the requirements for the minors and Certificate.

Department Mission  

The Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy embraces the Mission and Core Values of the College.
Courses foster an attitude of concern for all people, which, in turn, encourages students to become involved with service-oriented initiatives; to address issues of social justice; and to work towards systemic change.

Religious Studies courses provide an opportunity for students to examine the nature of religious experience and belief. This exploration occurs within a theological framework designed to enable students to understand and articulate the central elements of the Judeo-Christian faith tradition. At the same time, department members promote serious and critical conversation with students between this faith tradition and the questions and concerns arising from their lived experience and the needs of the world today. Students are also encouraged to investigate other religious traditions that provide a spiritual depth to the reality of the human experience.

Theta Alpha Kappa, the National Honor Society for Religious Studies and Theology, was established in 1976 for the purpose of recognizing the academic achievements of religion and theology students and the academic excellence of scholars in these fields. Induction into Theta Alpha Kappa requires nomination by the local Alpha Nu chapter; a GPA of at least 3.50 in RLST-Religious Studies courses; and a Career GPA of at least 3.00.

Course Options/Core Requirements for All Students  

An undergraduate student fulfills the Religious Studies requirement of the Core by successfully completing two Religious Studies courses. The first is RLST-104: The Religious Imagination, and the second course is any Religious Studies course at the 200-level. Students of all religious traditions and those who are unaffiliated with a particular tradition are welcome in any class. All courses seek to give students the opportunity to explore the nature of belief as they seek to find meaning in their lives. Students explore human history in its unfolding; the needs of the world’s peoples; the tenets of Catholic Social Tradition; and the demands of moral decision-making. A welcoming environment is created where students feel safe to explore their own questions; admit to doubts; and develop the spiritual dimension of life.

Religious Traditions:  

  • RLST-206: World Religions
  • RLST-207: Contemporary Christian Living
  • RLST-208: What Catholics Believe

Scripture Studies:  

  • RLST-209: Old Testament Studies
  • RLST-210: New Testament Studies
  • RLST-211: Women in the Bible

Morality and Justice:  

  • RLST-216: Fundamental Moral Theology
  • RLST-217: Contemporary Moral Issues
  • RLST-218: Biomedical Moral Issues
  • RLST-240: Introduction to Social Justice
  • RLST-242: Women in Society and Religion
  • RLST-245: Catholic Social Tradition

Doctrine and History:  

  • RLST-219: Theology of God
  • RLST-220: Forgiveness and Reconciliation
  • RLST-225: Catechesis and Religious Development
  • RLST-241: Models and Mentors in Christian Tradition
  • RLST-244: Global Theology and the Cry for Justice

Liturgy and Spirituality:  

  • RLST-222: Marriage and Family
  • RLST-226: The Meaning of Death and Dying
  • RLST-234: Sacraments and Spirituality
  • RLST-235: Spirituality: A Life Journey

Interdisciplinary (student must register for both courses in the same semester/6 credits total):  

  • RLST-250: Heart of the City/RLST
  • SOCI-250: Heart of the City/SOCI 



The study of Philosophy invites students to an intensely personal adventure: the pursuit of “the examined life.” By seeking acquaintance with great minds expressed in disciplined argument and in great literature, the Philosophy curriculum stimulates creativity and encourages the student to develop a responsible, thoughtful worldview and a personal value system that can meet the challenges of life in the twenty-first century. For assistance, please contact Dr. Patrick McCauley, Room 370, Fournier Hall. Telephone: 215/753-3657. Email:


Course Options  

Philosophy courses are open to students in any major; students are encouraged to consult with a faculty advisor to correlate their choice of course(s) with their major field of study. Students may choose from the following, which may not be offered every semester:

  • PHIL-109: Philosophical Thinking (WOK: Problem Solving)
  • PHIL-110: Introduction to Philosophy: World Views (WOK: Problem Solving and Writing Intensive)
  • PHIL-120: 19th and 20th Century Philosophers
  • PHIL-124: Introduction to American Philosophy (WOK: Problem Solving)
  • PHIL-128: Introduction to Symbolic Logic (WOK: Problem Solving
  • PHIL-209: Philosophical Thinking
  • PHIL-201: Existence
  • PHIL-203: Philosophy and Literature
  • PHIL-207: History and Philosophy of Science
  • PHIL-212: Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics (WOK: Problem Solving and Writing Intensive)
  • PHIL-215: Philosophy/Religion/Eastern World
  • PHIL-222: Introduction to Philosophy Ethics
  • PHIL-224: Introduction to Ethics and the Environment (Writing Intensive)