In Focus
& Religious Studies

Religious Studies Program Evolves

By Amanda Mayotte ’15

What do you plan to do with your degree?” Indisputably, this is the question most college students are asked. From childhood, parents, counselors, and members of the community encourage students to pick a career and study toward that specific profession.

It’s pretty clear-cut for those wanting to work in education, health care, or business. But where does that leave programs like English, gender studies, philosophy, or religious studies—subjects often deemed fruitless by society? On the front line, faculty are left to curb unfair assumptions.

“There’s something religious in most everything we do,” says Philip Drey, special appointment professor of religious studies. “Especially with a lot of majors we currently have—there’s a human side.”

Drey is not alone in this thought.

“There’s a human side that is open to the transcendent,” says Mary Ducey, professor of philosophy and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. “I think a lot of us are looking for that.”

Delving into life’s biggest questions is important—especially at a university that values education of the whole person and pursuit of truth and dignity.

“If there’s a God, it changes everything,” Ducey says.

Mary Ducey

Still, religion can be a hard sell, but Drey and Ducey say studying “soft” skills is imperative in day-to-day job duties. Because of this, MMU’s religious studies faculty recently worked to evolve the major—and flexibility was paramount.

Philip Drey

“There’s something religious in most everything we do,” says Philip Drey. “Especially with a lot of majors we currently have—there’s a human side.”

Students still have the option to prepare for graduate school or work in a parish, but the updated program better accommodates students with multiple majors.

Business students are able to develop ethics, critical thinking, and communications skills,” Ducey says. “Nursing students are able to develop care of the whole person—gaining an understanding of life and human connection—in turn, becoming better health care professionals.”

Classes such as Introduction to Ethics and Christian Moral Life were added to the course list, and the program plans to add an online offering in spring 2018.

“Overall, students will have a better understanding of self, relationships, and their place within the world, which I think a lot of young people struggle with,” Drey says. “The human person is dynamic, spiritual, unique, and holy.” ■


Mount Mercy University now offers online courses to audit at a greatly reduced tuition rate for staff members, teachers, and volunteers in the Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque parishes and schools.

The Center of Learning for the Church (CLC), created in consultation with the Archdiocese, allows for any five-week, online undergraduate course to be audited for the low cost of only $150 per course.

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