"If I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative religion, because that's how integrated it is in everything that we are working on and deciding and thinking about in life today." -- United States Secretary of State John F. Kerry

Religion at East Carolina University is studied in a nonsectarian, interdisciplinary fashion, providing students with an understanding of religion as an historical and cultural phenomenon. Our program neither excludes nor promotes any religious tradition or viewpoint. In addition to courses on specific religions, students take courses in a variety of disciplines that consider religious themes and approaches, including anthropology, archaeology, art, history, literature, philosophy, psychology and sociology.

Faculty Spotlight

Joseph Hellweg

Dr. Joseph Hellweg

We welcome Dr. Hellweg to East Carolina University. Dr. Joseph Hellweg is the 2017-2018 David Julian and Virginia Suther Whichard Distinguished Professor. Hellweg brings to the Religious Studies Program expertise in the intersection of religion, security studies, politics, and public health. His research interests include ritual, Islam, performance, and social movements in West Africa. This fall he is teaching an advanced-undergraduate and graduate seminar, “Security, Ritual, and Politics: Portrayals of Violent Actors in Contemporary Africa.” Next spring he will teach a second seminar, “Religion and Public Health in the Black Atlantic: The Culture and Politics of Healing in Africa, the Caribbean, and the US.” His publications include Hunting the Ethical State: the Benkadi Movement of Côte d’lvoire (2011); Anthropologie les premier pas (First Steps in Anthropology); and many journal articles. He is currently writing a book on the funeral songs of dozo hunters in Côte d’lvoire and a series of articles on the N’ko alphabet invented in 1949 in Côte d’lvoire for the purpose of writing Mande Languages. Learn more about Dr. Hellweg by going to the Florida State University Department of Religion webpage.

Student Spotlight

Katie Chandler

Katie Chandler

Congratulations to Katie Chandler for being nominated as the 2017/2018 student spotlight! Katie looks forward to graduating in May with a quadruple major in History, Philosophy, Great Books and Religious Studies. Her passion in religious studies began with the study abroad program to India with Dr. Maher. It is “where my passion lies,” she says. Studying religion has allowed me to see the similarities in people that on the surface seem vastly different. After graduating, she plans on pursuing graduate school in religious studies, hopefully at University of California, Santa Barbara. Among her accomplishments are the Chancellor's List 2017; 2017 co-chair of the Dean's Student leadership council; Philosophy and Religious Studies dept. representative; the 2017 Best Student Philosophy Paper award winner; co-authored of an article on Buddhist Holy Sites (in publication) summer 2016. Read more on Katie here

Religious Studies Mini Symposium

Join Religious Studies students in a mini symposium on December 2, 2017. Select students will be presenting their work to each other and to faculty of Religious Studies. Select papers will be presented in another symposium in the Spring, 2018 and also submitted to the regional conference organization SECSOR and possibly to the undergraduate newsletter. The session will be followed by a panel discussion by Religious Studies faculty on the importance of studying religion as an academic subject.  This will be followed by a reception. Are you interested in joining us, submit a paper on any aspect of religion by November 15, 2017. Send any questions/ concerns to

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For more information, please contact the Program Director:

Dr. Mary Nyangweso
(252) 737-2422