Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Religious Studies

Major Professor

Michael DeJonge, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Adib Farhadi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Garrett Potts, Ph.D.


Conflict, Peacebuilding, Essential, Secular


Recent studies have suggested the transformative potential of “theological” inquiry anddiscourse in religious studies, particularly, in furthering religious literacy and peace building initiatives through greater understanding of “other”. Yet, “theology” is a relatively new academic approach to peace building and conflict studies and is still marginalized to a large degree in secular universities. Vigorous inquiry into the intrinsic value and potential role of “theological” inquiry and discourse in secular academics, as well as possible pedagogical strategies, are worthwhile and necessary towards achieving the wider aims of the secular university. To those ends, this paper presents a broad survey of the problem of “theology” in the public university and seeks to affirm the fundamental permissibility and value of theological inquiry and discourse in secular academics. This study demonstrates that “theology” need not be conceptualized as a singularly Christian or sectarian endeavor. Comparative and philosophical modes of theological inquiry can be non-sectarian in their aims, are comparable to other “deep-thinking” academic disciplines, and do not necessarily violate secular academic principles or constitutional obligations. Additionally, exposure to multiple theologies in the non-sectarian setting of the public university may further afford students the opportunity to safely explore their individual understanding of global ethics. “Theology”, when thoughtfully undertaken in secular academics not only belongs in the public university, but may be indispensable for fulfilling the highest ideals of public education.