GMIT’s acclaimed degree course in religious studies is approaching its 25th anniversary and begins its next cycle next month (September ). Bringing a fresh eye and an open approach to the study of religion, the course sets out to create a space for those whose engagement with religion is thoughtful and exploratory.
“Where religion is concerned today, a clear option, on the one hand, is withdrawal into fundamentalism or, on the other hand, dismissal of religion as an anachronism," said programme chair Barry McMillan. "Here at GMIT, we offer a learning space for those people who find themselves somewhere in the middle, thirsty for knowledge and insight, and underserved by either of the extremes.
“Students explore their own beliefs in light of other faiths, other cultures, and other academic disciplines. It is a rich educational experience. As one graduate of the course put it, ‘I wasn’t taught what to think, I was taught how to think.’”
In a number of ways, the course is a marker of GMIT’s pioneering commitment to meeting educational needs. It is designed to be as accessible as possible, being delivered on a flexible learning basis, two evenings a week per academic semester, and can be engaged with as a full degree programme or as selected individual subjects. In addition, support for those returning to academic study after some time or those inexperienced in academic study is built into the programme. The lecturing team on the course are holders of GMIT’s President’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
“The simplest way for people to get a sense of what we’re offering is to search for ‘religious studies’ on the GMIT website," Mr McMillan added. "There they’ll find an outline of the course content and testimonies from those who have studied on the course.”
Graduates who have recently completed their studies on the course have had much to say about it.
Mary O’Malley described the programme as “a hugely transformative experience”, adding: “The topics are diverse and incredibly enriching and are structured so that each one is delivered in ways that are easy to understand. The incredible support I received from my lecturers made it possible for me to discover that I was more than capable of achieving my goals.”
Michael Brown was similarly enthusiastic: “I learned so much about my own religion, but also about other religions and psychology and philosophy. I have grown so much. The course has equipped me with a more articulate way of thinking and expressing myself. I feel I now have the tools to talk to people of any religion or no religion.”
Peter Hynes characterised his studies as “extremely interesting and enjoyable”, while Pauline Staunton described her experience as going “far beyond any expectations I had.” She added: “The support of the lecturers was outstanding; they took each student where they were at and encouraged and enabled them to expand their skills and their horizons. I would strongly recommend this course.”
Anyone interested in the degree course or in individual subjects can obtain more information by contacting the programme chair at [email protected] or 091 742472. Information is also available from the GMIT graduate and professional development office at 091 742528. Places on the course are limited to 20.