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Philosophy and Religious Studies

Philosophy and Religious Studies

The Philosophy and Religious Studies department prepares students to carry out Marywood's goal for all students: learning to live responsibly in an interdependent world. Religious Studies majors experience a comprehensive overview of the religious beliefs, practices, and values of Christianity and Judaism, as well as other religious traditions. Special attention is given to the Catholic tradition, but course offerings are broad enough to benefit students of all traditions. Philosophy majors take an exciting intellectual journey with the greatest minds that have ever lived and receive excellent preparation for a professional career in law, medicine, business, education, government, or further graduate study. The department offers different tracks for both majors and minors. In the Bioethics Certificate Program, students learn how to think through complex ethical issues 

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About The Philosophy and Religious Studies Department

The Religious Studies Program is central to the Marywood experience. Every student takes several courses in religious studies as part of Marywood's liberal arts core curriculum. An accurate understanding of religion prepares one to be a responsible citizen in this diverse and interdependent world. 


The Philosophy Program promotes the development of the person as an individual and as a meaningful contributor to society. The primary goal of philosophy courses is to address some of life's ultimate questions, to enable to students to lead a more substantive and meaningful life. Philosophical reflection on the ultimate questions should lead to reasoned foundations conducive to support for human values; to an awareness of a duty to work for justice, compassion, and peace; and to the integrated and rich human life worth living, thus providing students the abilities and opportunities to be more responsible for the interdependent world in which they find themselves.

Philosophy and Religious Studies Faculty

Our faculty members have diverse backgrounds and experiences and are sensitive to your needs and goals. We're eager to help you answer Marywood's call to live responsibly in an interdependent world.

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Rich, Dr. Jeremy M

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Bittel, Dr. Helen M

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Brown, Shannon Renee

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Cassel, Erika

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Clements, William

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Cosacchi, Julia L

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Cotroneo, Gary A

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Dewey, Bryan

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Dymond, Dr. Erica J

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Esposito, Dr. Lauren R

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Gipson, Amanda M

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Gowe, Bruce E

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Grimminger, Erika M

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Guarnaccia, Phyllis A

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Hacken, Francis J

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Hall, Sarah A

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Harris, Dr. Dana M

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Harry, Ashlee

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Hawkins, Sr. Nancy M

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Hiller, Mark R

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Jaffee, Larry S

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Jenkins, Dr. Philip W

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Jenkins, Thomas D

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Johnson, Julie R

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Josielevski, Ben

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Kanavy, James Francis

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Lenkaitis, Chesla Ann

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Monelli, Alexander M

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Schwartz, Ashley Elizabeth

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Seffrin, Dr. Patrick M

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Shprintzen, Dr. Adam

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Simmons, Dr. Aaron

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Skierski II, Stephen M

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Spitzer, Jeffrey A

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Students, staff, faculty and visitors meet monthly in the Learning Commons for lively discussions on wide-ranging topics. Typically, the assembled group proposes topics and then decides democratically which will be the focus of the session's discussions; thereafter the topic is addressed from all angles, with everyone getting their fair say.

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Commencement Medals

Czachor Medal for Academic Excellence in Religious Studies
The Czachor Medal for Academic Excellence in Religious Studies was founded by the Czachor family of Archbald, PA, and was first awarded in 1975. To be eligible, a student must be a graduating senior with a major or minor in Religious Studies. Minors must have completed 15 credits in religious studies.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Up to four (4) points will be awarded to each student for his/her overall Q.P.A.
  • Up to four (4) points will be awarded to each student for his/her Q.P.A. in religious studies. In order to be eligible, a student must have a minimum Q.P.A. of 3.0 in religious studies.
  • The student with the highest combined number of points will receive the medal.
  • The student with the second highest number of combined points will receive Honorable Mention.
  • If a tie occurs, the following considerations will be weighed in order to determine the winner: 1) total number of religious studies courses completed and 2) service to the department.

Mary Pace Medal for Excellence in Philosophy
The Mary Pace Medal was founded by Reverend William Pace in memory of his mother, Mary Pace, to honor a graduating senior who has demonstrated, according to the criteria stated below, an understanding of and appreciation for philosophical inquiry. Students do not need to major or minor in Philosophy in order to qualify for this prestigious award. All graduating seniors are invited to submit papers for consideration in the competition for the Pace Medal.

To compete, three things must be done. One, complete three courses in philosophy by the end of the Fall semester in the year you are to graduate. Course work counts 10%. Students seeking the Gold Medal must maintain a 3.25 QPA overall as well as in Philosophy.

Two, write an essay of approximately four to eight pages. Essays count 50%. Use proper format, e.g. essay must be typed, double-spaced, title page with name, local address and phone number, and so on. Essays must be submitted to a faculty member of the philosophy program no later than February 1 of graduating year. A submitted essay may be a formal research paper or an informal creative essay, but it must present an argument supporting the student’s opinion on a significant philosophical subject. And it may be a paper that was submitted for a course and revised for the competition or one especially written for the competition. Essays must meet the objectives of the department as stated in the catalog, i.e., you should write a philosophical essay that is a clear, coherent exposition of a concept, problem or theory, which demonstrates the ability to analyze, evaluate and synthesize the matter discussed.

Three, participate as a finalist. To be eligible for an interview as a finalist, a student’s paper must receive an overall assessment as being above average by a majority of the philosophy faculty. Such participation involves an approximately 20 minute informal student-faculty discussion based on your essay and certain specific questions.

  1. What is philosophy? In the course of your answer be prepared to discuss at least two major areas of philosophy of your choosing (epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, etc.).
  2. What is the value of philosophy to you personally, and what role will philosophy have in your future?
  3. From your course work in philosophy, whom do you consider a great philosopher and why?
  4. What is a significant philosophical position you are convinced is correct? Come ready to explain and defend your conviction.
  5. Informal discussion, which counts 40%, will be conducted in a relaxed atmosphere. You will be notified regarding specific time and place.

Questions on the competition are available from Dr. Aaron Simmons at asimmons@marywood.edu.

Religious Studies Resources:

Theology Library
Provides a comprehensive treatment of various aspects of theology.
www.shc.edu/theolibrary

America Magazine
A weekly publication, with selected articles available online.
www.americamagazine.org

National Catholic Reporter
A weekly publication, with selected articles available online.
www.natcath.org

US Catholic
A weekly publication, with selected articles available online.
www.uscatholic.org

Documents of Popes, Bishops, and Councils About Justice and Peace
Contains a wealth of documents related to Catholic social justice teachings.
www.justpeace.org

Network: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Provides a voice within the Catholic community calling for peace and economic justice.
www.networklobby.org

Bread for the World
Bread for the World seeks justice and the end to hunger.
www.bread.org

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The USCCB is an assembly of Catholic Church bishops who work together to unify, coordinate, promote and carry on the work of the Catholic Church in the U.S.
www.usccb.org

Vatican: The Holy See
Official Web Site of the Vatican.
www.vatican.va

The Pluralism Project at Harvard University
http://pluralism.org

Biblical Archeology Review
Provides biblical and archeological news and select articles online.
www.bib-arch.org

Catholic News Service
Major source of Catholic news.
https://catholicnews.com/

We offer the following as places to begin a search for material about a philosopher, a philosophical work, ideas, theories, or principles. By no means do the following websites begin to cover the vast number of web sites available in Philosophy.

General Philosophy Websites:

Philosophy Pages provides some excellent introductory material to Philosophy. The site contains a dictionary of philosophical terms, a one-page overview of over thirty philosophers, a section on logic, a guide to the history of Western philosophy, and a timeline for Western philosophers. There are web links virtually everywhere throughout the site, so it is relatively easy to follow through on any specific philosophical quest.

    The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy contains excellent entries on many philosophers and branches of philosophy.

    The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy contains good overviews of philosophers' ideas.

    Bartleby defines itself as follows: "The preeminent Internet publisher of literature, reference and verse providing students, researchers and the intellectually curious with unlimited access to books and information on the web, free of charge." Check it out.

    Bioethics:

    Religious Tolerance offers a general view of the controversy concerning physician-assisted suicide as well as statistics.

    The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS is the main advocate for global action on HIV and AIDS.

    The National Transplant Society provides current statistics and background information on the allocation of transplantable organs in the United States.

    The United Network for Organ Sharing offers information on and explanation of organ sharing with "quick links" to data and resources.

    The President's Council on Bioethics contains government information on numerous ethical issues in biomedical science and technology.

    Human Genome Project Information provides, obviously, information on the human genome project.

    Philosophy of Religion:

    Judaism 101 gives an account of thirteen principles of Jewish Faith, G-d's attributes, human nature, the Messiah and the three categories of Jews.

    General Information on Islam contains a summary of Islamic belief in God, angels, the Koran and the prophets. A brief piece on Muhammed's life, the five pillars of Islam, terrorism and the jihad are also included.

    Hinduism: The World's Oldest Religion provides a general introduction to Hinduism followed by a treatment of the Hindu Trinity, puja (daily prayer), the Bhagavad Gita, Hindu classes and castes, the four periods of Hindu life, karma, the major schools about the relationship between humans and Truth.

    Buddhist Information and Education Network recounts the life of the Buddha, the basic tenets of Buddhism, the four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, the five precepts, the three jewels of Buddhism, and the various groups of Buddhists.

    Critical Thinking/Logic:

    Logic contains very good general background information on logic in general and formal and informal reasoning in particular; as one might "deduce," this is the logic section from Philosophy Pages.

    Logic and Fallacies (from "The Atheism Web") contains an introduction to logic and, like the previous site, a formidable list of informal fallacies, also with definition and example; yes, even atheists must be logical.

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