Graduates who majored in religion at Centre have proved themselves to be well prepared for graduate and professional study in religion, as well as careers in medicine, counseling, writing, law, theater management, banking, and various organizations in the private and public sectors.

Religious studies at Centre is an ideal major for the liberal arts student. Religion courses regularly involve or relate to language, history, literature, philosophy, archaeology, anthropology, and even science.

Through a wide variety of course offerings and assistance with internships, the Religion Program seeks to fulfill several goals. The first is to acquaint students with the interpretations of religious belief and practice offered by the world’s major religious traditions, especially the Judaic and Christian traditions. A second goal is to develop students’ ability to reflect critically and independently on these traditions, to gather and interpret research materials, and to articulate their ideas well. A third goal is to encourage students to contribute to society after graduation through participation and leadership in professional, religious, and civic organizations. A final aim is to prepare religion majors for graduate and professional programs in religious studies or theology if their career goals require additional study.
 
Majors acquire general knowledge in the discipline through survey courses in biblical history and ideas, history of Christian thought, and Eastern religious traditions. They then enjoy unrestricted choice of six upper-level electives. Finally they take the senior seminar. This experience involves them in discussion with the entire religion faculty, and often with visiting scholars, of important current works in the discipline; in the preparation of critical responses to these readings; and ultimately in the production and presentation of a major research paper.

 

Read about the RELIGION program:

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Lee Jefferson

Photo of  Lee  Jefferson
NEH Associate Professor of Religion • Chair of the Religion Program Religion Work Crounse Hall—449 Work Phone: 859.238.5260
Biography

Lee Jefferson is an associate professor of religion, and was named a Centre Scholar in 2014.

Prior to coming to Centre in 2008, Jefferson taught courses at Memphis Theological Seminary and at Vanderbilt University, both in various areas of the Christian tradition. His primary area of interest is the development of the Christian tradition and art and imagery of Late Antiquity.

He graduated cum laude from Sewanee-University of the South and earned his M.Div. from Southern Methodist University (magna cum laude). He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in religion from Vanderbilt University. He has published articles on aspects of early Christianity in Religion and the Arts, Studia Patristica, Religion Compass, the Sewanee Theological Review, and SBL Bible Odyssey. His book reviews have appeared in Review of Biblical Literature, Religious Studies Review, Church History, and the Journal of Roman Studies. He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (DeGruyter), and contributes to the Huffington Post, and most recently to Marginalia: Los Angeles Review of Books (see his article here).

Jefferson has developed a study abroad course on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. In addition to traveling to sites of holy pilgrimage, he is researching the rise of reliquary devotion associated with pilgrimage routes in early and medieval Christianity.

His book, Christ the Miracle Worker in Early Christian Art (Fortress Press, 2014) concerns the early images of the miracles of Jesus. His second book, a collection of essays including a chapter he authored, co-edited with Robin M. Jensen, entitled The Art of Empire: Christian Art in Its Imperial Context, was published in October 2015. He contributes to the Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity and the The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies. He also has a forthcoming chapter in the Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art. (read about it here).

He won the Kirk Award for Teaching Excellence in 2011. He is also a Shohet Scholar, having won the Shohet Scholars Award from the International Catacomb Society in 2013. Prof. Jefferson is utilizing the grant along with Prof. Tom McCollough to explore the material evidence of the caves of Khirbet Qana in Israel.

Email: lee.jefferson@centre.edu

File last updated: 9/7/2016

Matthew Pierce

Photo of  Matthew  Pierce
Assistant Professor of Religion Religion Work Crounse Hall—409 Work Phone: 859.238.6042
Biography

Matthew Pierce joined the Centre College faculty in 2011. Before coming to Centre, he spent extensive time in the Middle East and Central Asia, including living in Egypt, Yemen, and Iran. He was named a Centre Scholar in 2016.

Pierce specializes in medieval Islamic history and thought. His current research focuses on classical Arabic and Persian biographies, analyzing the production of cultural symbols related to gender, authority, and identity. His 2016 book, Twelve Infallible Men: The Imams and the Making of Shi’ism (Harvard), won international recognition when selected for the Iran’s Book of the Year Award. He is presently writing a biography of the eighth century scholar, Ja’far al-Sadiq (under contract with Oneworld Publications). Pierce has also contributed to The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought (2012) as well as an edited volume on Women, Leadership, and Mosques: Changes in Contemporary Islamic Authority (Brill, 2012). His work has also appeared in the Journal of Shi’a Islamic Studies.

In addition to his regularly-taught course, “Western Religious Traditions,” Pierce teaches a variety of upper-level courses on topics related to Islamic Studies. He serves on the gender studies program and frequently teaches courses abroad during winter terms. In the spring of 2017 he served as co-director of the Centre-in-London program.

Pierce holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Boston University’s Division of Religious and Theological Studies. Prior to that, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Bryan College and received a Fulbright Fellowship (2002-2003) to research Qur’anic religious education in Sana’a, Yemen. From 2003 to 2006, he participated in an inter-faith dialogue program while studying in Qom, Iran.

To read about his course on “Islam in America,” click here.

To read about his course on “Rock, Rap, and Religion,” click here.

Email: matthew.pierce@centre.edu

File last updated: 8/30/17

Richard D. Axtell

Photo of  Richard D. Axtell
H. W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Religion • College Chaplain Religion Work Crounse Hall—452 Work Phone: 859.238.5342
Biography

Rick Axtell is H. W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor or Religion and College Chaplain at Centre College. Axtell initially taught at Centre during 1992-93 and returned to the college in 1995. He was named a Centre Scholar in 2003 and 2008, and received the Kirk Award for excellence in teaching in 2000 and 2015. In 2012, he was included in The Princeton Review’s The Best 300 Professors.

Concerned about issues of hunger and homelessness, he has served as director of Louisville United Against Hunger and also was a case manager working with homeless men through the St. Vincent DePaul Society.

Axtell’s travels in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Serbia, and Thailand have informed his teaching on issues of hunger, human trafficking, sustainable development, and peacemaking. In 2006, he taught in the UNESCO International M.A. Program in Peace and Development Studies at Universitat Jaume I in Castellon, Spain.

Recent research includes employment trends for day laborers in Louisville’s homeless population and interviews with public housing residents who were relocated in Louisville’s HOPE VI housing redevelopment. He is the co-author of The Other Side of HOPE: Squandering Social Capital in Louisville’s HOPE VI, published in Journal of Poverty in 2015. Axtell is also the co-editor of Ethics as if Jesus Mattered: Essays in Honor of Glen H. Stassen (Smyth & Helwys, 2015).

Axtell has also studied liberation theology and religion and violence in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. His articles on the topic of religion and violence have appeared in the Encyclopedia of Religion and War and The Merton Annual.

He has led Centre students studying abroad in Cuba, England, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

Axtell holds a B.A. degree from Mississippi College. He earned M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed other advanced studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Email: rick.axtell@centre.edu

File last updated: 06/10/15

Notes

EXPERT: Homelessness and poverty — World hunger — Religion and violence — Liberation theology — Development, human rights, and sustainability — Christian ethics — Social justice

Expertise on issues of hunger and homelessness; former director of Louisville United Against Hunger and case manager working with homeless men. Has guided students to first-hand understanding of homeless shelters. Research on day laborers; public housing residents displaced by HOPE VI. Travel and study in Bangladesh, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua focused on sustainable development, human rights, and poverty. Honored as a teacher and a hunger activist.

W. David Hall

Photo of  W. David  Hall
W. George Matton Professor of Religion & Philosophy Religion, Philosophy Work Crounse Hall—331 Work Phone: 859.238.5269 Website: Personal Web site:
Biography

W. David Hall joined the Centre faculty in 2002, and in 2005 received the Kirk Award for excellence in teaching. He was named a Centre Scholar in 2007, and held the NEH endowed professorship from 2010 to 2013. He has served as chair of the religion program. Prior to coming to Centre College, he taught for two years as visiting assistant professor of religious studies at DePaul University in Chicago.

Dr. Hall’s primary research interest is 19th- and 20th-century European thought. He is co-editor of and contributor to a recent volume of essays entitled Paul Ricoeur and Contemporary Moral Thought (Routledge, 2002), and is the author of Paul Ricoeur and the Poetic Imperative: The Creative Tension Between Love and Justice (SUNY, 2007). His approach is broadly interdisciplinary, addressing currents within philosophy, literary theory, and the social sciences, and their impact on contemporary theology and ethics. His current interests concern questions of political agency within the context of modern notions of state sovereignty.

Dr. Hall received a B.A. in rhetoric from California State University in Sacramento. He attended graduate school at the University of Chicago, where he received an M.Div. and a Ph.D.

Email: wdavid.hall@centre.edu

File last updated: 6/26/17

Notes

Watch a photo essay highlighting Dr. Hall’s Basketball as Religion class.

 

 
 

Shana Sippy

Photo of  Shana  Sippy
Visiting Instructor of Religion Centre CollegeDivision II Work Crounse - 439 Work Phone: 859.238.6510
Biography

Shana Sippy joined the Centre College faculty in 2017 as visiting instructor of religion.

Sippy earned a masters of theological studies from Harvard Divinity School, and is a Ph.D. candidate in religious studies from Columbia University.

Email: shana.sippy@centre.edu