We help college students in all disciplines or professional schools
envision and pursue a curriculum that involves advanced study of topics related to Christianity and
participate in an ecumenical, faculty-led learning community that helps students integrate their academic and professional pursuits with Christian studies.
Although it is helpful to think of this concept as a Christian Studies "program," it is not located as an official academic program in any one college or university.
Pittsburgh colleges and universities offer a wealth of courses covering Christian history, theology, culture, the Bible, and the relationships between Christianity and other religions. But students often have trouble identifying these courses. And often interested students feel they cannot fit Christian Studies courses into their degree programs.
That's why faculty at area institutions are collaborating to bring together a listing of Christian Studies courses across the disciplines in one place, updated each semester. Thanks to the generous exchange program of the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education, students can take courses at other area colleges, an arrangement that puts the area's wealth of Christian Studies courses at students' fingertips. We help students find pathways to fit their interests, their major course of study, and their career goals, using all of Pittsburgh's combined resources.
We encourage students not majoring or minoring in Religious Studies to take between one and five courses in Christian Studies over the course of their college careers. This does not result in a certificate (though students can apply to their own institutions to have a certificate recognized). More importantly, this "virtual minor" in Christian Studies can give students a sense of purpose and coherence to the courses they choose to fulfill their general education requirements. For students who practice Christianity, we seek to help them integrate their faith with advanced academic study of its history, texts, cultures, and traditions, and thereby build a foundation for lifelong learning.
The secular aspects of Christian Studies
By design and definition, Christian Studies in Pittsburgh is open to all students interested in advanced academic study of Christianity. "Christian Studies" identifies courses already being offered at area colleges and universities. All courses that offer substantial topical coverage of Christian history, theology, culture, the Bible, or the relationships between Christianity and other religions are represented in the course guides. The label "Christian Studies" does not imply that faculty teaching those courses practice the Christian faith. Conversely, although the faculty who lead this program are practicing Christians, they teach their own courses as exercises in rational inquiry without religious bias.
The religious nature of this initiative
This initiative has come about through the collaboration of Christian faculty and campus chaplaincies. We are committed to ecumenism and openness to students of all faiths and none. Our collaborators include people of the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and non-denominational evangelical traditions. Faculty advisors work with students to help them academically and do not undertake spiritual direction. If students seek such help, faculty advisors refer students of the Christian faith to chaplains in their respective traditions.