Philosophical Perspectives

Department Profile: Religious Studies & Philosophy


The Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Gardner-Webb University stands out due to its commitment to Jesus Christ. Yet, according to Dr. Joe Collins, faculty members do not force religious views on students, but are concerned for their spiritual well-being.

“In a secular university, such a concern oftentimes takes a backseat to the academic study of religion,” Collins explained.

According to Courtney Finocchiaro Stamey (’12), her GWU professors gave her the academic and spiritual foundation to succeed in graduate school. They challenged her to believe that her own opinions are valuable, shared ideas on missions, increased her understanding of the Hebrew scripture and shaped her opinions on ethics.

“Gardner-Webb’s professors helped me to ask the tough questions and break down my presuppositions,” she said. “The lessons I learned in these classrooms have transformed me into the pastor I am today.”

Jill Mayo Forbes (’03) agrees, emphasizing that advice she received from her professors is still relevant in her daily life.

“I use what I gained in the classroom every day as a mom,” she explained. “I’m teaching my kids the truth about Jesus and teaching them to critically think about their faith, helping them to reconcile the world and their faith system.

Undergraduate programs include majors in Biblical Studies, Discipleship Studies, Youth Discipleship Studies, Philosophy and Theology, World Religions, Missiology and the Accelerated Pastoral Ministries Program. Graduate degrees are offered in Divinity and Religion.

“This department is a great place to teach because even though the faculty have some disagreements with each other theologically, we love and respect one another, we support one another, and we really want what is best for our students,” Collins said.

Learn more about ways the department supports student success by emphasizing critical thinking