RELIGION + PHILOSOPHY

Students in religion and philosophy are prepared for many paths, including seminary, graduate work in religion, church-related vocations, community leadership, and advanced study in another field. Our graduates are equipped bring greater meaning and purpose to any profession with enhanced ethical and analytical skills and widened perspectives. 

Field experiences and internships in congregations, camps, nursing homes, social ministry organizations and nonprofit service agencies offer academic credit. 

Undergraduate research experiences in religion and philosophy can lead to conference presentations and publications.

Major & Minors

May Term courses led by religion faculty travel to Turkey, Israel, Palestine, Japan, and Germany, and you may also choose to take advantage of engaged learning experiences in Denver, Colo., at Wartburg West.  

Our department offers courses like these to help prepare you for post-graduate studies, seminary, or wherever your path takes you!

  • Biblical Greek
  • Biblical Hebrew
  • World religions
  • Lutheran history
  • Feminist theology
  • Ethics
  • Dr. Kuni Terasawa and students visit a peace park in Japan.

    Theta Alpha Kappa
    Theta Alpha Kappa is a national honor society for theology and religious studies. Founded in 1976 at Manhattan College in Riverdale (the Bronx) New York, Theta Alpha Kappa is the only national honor society serving the needs of those involved in the study of religion and/or theology at both the baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate levels of higher education. Honoring excellence in these academic fields is its primary purpose, and it currently hosts over 200 local chapters throughout the United States at institutions both large and small, public and private. Membership is open to students of any major. However, undergraduate students must have:

    1. completed at least three semesters (or five quarters) at an institution having a local chapter in good standing,
    2. completed a minimum of twelve (12) semester credits (or eighteen quarter credits) in courses representing Religious Studies or Theological Studies,
    3. attained a grade point average of at least 3.5 (B+) in such courses,
    4. attained at least a 3.0 grade point average (or B) in their total academic program to date, and
    5. been ranked in at least the upper 35% of their class in general scholarship at the time of induction.

    Philosophical and Literary Society
    Open to all students interested in issues associated with philosophy and literature.

    Spiritual Life & Campus Ministry
    Includes numerous programs including worship, outreach, drama, publication and music groups.

    The Mike and Marge McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission, established in 2013, helps the college preserve and deepen its roots in the Lutheran spiritual and intellectual tradition.  The chair, currently held by Dr. Caryn Riswold, also supports events and speakers for the benefit of the campus community. Recent speakers have included:

    Activist and author Rev. Lenny Duncan (pictured below)
    Author Chris Stedman
    Palestinian peace activist Daoud Nassar

    For more than 30 years, the Graven Award has been awarded by the college to honor one “whose life is nurtured and guided by a strong sense of Christian calling and who is making a significant contribution to community, church and society.” It is named for the late Judge Henry N. and Helen T. Graven of Greene, whose lives reflected those same commitments. Recipients come to campus to interact with students and have included:

    Felecia Boone, Hennepin County (MN) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Division
    Adrian Miller, author and executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches
    Gloria Kirkland Holmes, University of Northern Iowa professor
    Diane Levy Jacobson, Luther Seminary professor emerita
    Bruce Weber, Kansas State men’s basketball coach

    Alumni Outcomes

    Wartburg graduates find satisfying jobs and are admitted into top graduate and professional schools. Wartburg alumni can be found in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 foreign countries. Below is only a sample of the types of positions Wartburg graduates from the Religion and Philosophy Department have had in the past.

    Sample of Alumni Positions from the Past 5 Years:    

        • Youth/Child/Family Ministry Assistant, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Cedar Falls    
        • Director of Student Ministries, Grand View University, Des Moines    
        • Graduate Student – Master of Divinity, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.   
        • Intern Pastor, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Stillwater, Minn.    
        • Pastor, Zion Lutheran Church, Princeton

    Sample Stand-out Alumni Positions:    

        Associate Professor, Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Huntington, W.Va. 
        • Camp Director, Sugar Creek Bible Camp, Ferryville, Wis.    
        Program Manager, Gretna Glen Camp and Retreat Center, Lebanon, Pa.    
        • Research Associate, American Association for Palestinian Equality, Washington, D.C.

    Sample of Alumni Positions from the past 15 years:    

        • Assistant Director of Conflict Resolution Program, The Carter Center, Atlanta, Ga.
        Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.
        Enrollment Specialist/Program Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dean County, Madison, Wis.
        Director of Youth Ministry, Comm
        English Teacher, Amity Foundation, Janjing, Jiangsu, China
        Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Forest City
        Graduate Student – Princeton Theological Seminary

    FACULTY + STAFF

    Abbylynn Helgevold

    Assistant Professor of Religion

    Brian Beckstrom

    Dean of Spiritual Life/Moehlmann Chaplaincy Chair

    Caryn Riswold

    Professor of Religion/McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission

    Justin Jeffcoat Schedtler

    Assistant Professor of Religion

    Kunihiko Terasawa

    Associate Professor of Religion

    Kristin Wendland

    Assistant Professor of Religion