Religious Studies Faculty

Terence Gilheany

Terence Gilheany

Chair, Religious Studies Department, Crew
Jay Hutchinson

Jay Hutchinson

Head Chaplain, Director of Community Service, Religious Studies, Soccer, Lacrosse
Jason Kunen

Jason Kunen

Religious Studies, Self-Defense
Stephen Mufuka

Stephen Mufuka

Religious Studies, Soccer, Tennis

Religious Studies

In keeping with School founder Felix duPont's vision and purpose, St. Andrew's has included religious studies in its academic curriculum since its earliest years. Our core curriculum requirements in religious studies—History of Religious Thought, taken in the IV Form year, and a Philosophy or Religious Studies elective taken the VI Form year—provides an understanding of the major religious and philosophical traditions that have shaped Western civilization. Through course discussions and essays, our goal is familiarize students with the many varied ideas and theologies they will encounter in college, and throughout their lives, while also encouraging students to formulate their own faith practices and make conscious decisions about their value systems.

Sophomores taking History of Religious Thought are asked to rigorously examine the claims of great religious thinkers—from Aquinas to Marx, Avicenna to Freud, Maimonides to Thomas Paine, St. Theresa of Avila to contemporary theologians and philosophers. In dialogue with these writings and with the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible, and the Qur’an, students consider differing answers to central religious questions. This course provides an opportunity to analyze the Judeo-Christian worldview in particular, the importance of revelation in Christianity through historical events and persons, and the moral implications of religious commitment within contemporary life.

Sixth Form students spend the first half of the year taking Philosophy, which provides an introduction to central philosophical inquiries, and an exploration of epistemology, ontology, metaphysics, theology, ethics, and aesthetics. In the second half of the VI Form year, students take a religious studies elective that explores world religions and philosophies using a particular critical or topical lens (such as gender, violence, service, or applied ethics); a full list of electives is available below.

Religious Studies Department News

Religious Studies Requirement

In the IV Form year, students must take History of Religious Thought. In the VI Form year, students must take a Philosophy in the first semester and a Religious Studies elective in the second semester.

Religious Studies Courses

History of Religious Thought


IIn this course, students rigorously examine the claims of great thinkers from Aquinas to Marx, Avicenna to Vivekananda, Maimonides to the Dalai Lama, St. Theresa of Avila to contemporary theologians and philosophers. In dialogue with such scholars and with the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible, the Qur’an, the Upanishads and Buddhist Scriptures, students consider differing answers to central religious questions such as:

  • Is there a divine? If so, how have people claimed to know the nature of the divine?
  • What is religious experience? What, if anything, happens after death?
  • Why does suffering exist?
  • How shall we act in the world as a result of our views on the divine?

Our studies are informed by classroom visits with imams, rabbis, ministers, and scholars, as well as trips to local places of worship (synagogues, mosques, churches, etc.) and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.

Students write frequent short analytical essays. In conjunction with their work in English Literature 2, they build their understanding of argument, evidence, the difference between an observation and a claim, and how to deal with ambiguity and complexity in an author’s writings. To prepare students for their work in Advanced Study history courses and VI Form philosophy and religious studies electives, students examine their own positions in the context of the wider scope of human history and culture, strengthening their ability to identify a writer’s rhetorical maneuvers and implicit assumptions. About midway through the course, they write and deliver a ten-minute long talk exploring a religious or philosophical conundrum. For their capstone project, students use their shorter writings from the year as the backbone for a ten to twelve page theological analysis, then assess and critique their papers in an oral defense with their teacher and a classmate.

Applied Ethics

Open to V & VI Form students

Semester-long half-credit course

This course introduces students to the basic principles of moral reasoning, with the goal of enabling students to engage independently in critical analysis of contemporary ethical issues. Students practice constructing formal logical arguments, and briefly examine the ethical theories of divine command, virtue (Aristotle), utility (Mill), and duty (Kant). They then use these tools to discuss topics including:

  • abortion;
  • euthanasia;
  • cloning;
  • civil rights;
  • criminal justice;
  • the death penalty;
  • sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • poverty and welfare;
  • drug legalization;
  • animal rights; and
  • just war theory.

Students prepare short position papers on these issues, and present their viewpoints in class for discussion and debate.

Asian Philosophy & Religious Traditions

Open to V & VI Form students


What happens when my truth and your truth are not the same? In this class, students explore what it means to live in a world where so many religions and worldviews coexist. As a complement to History of Religious Thought, students study traditions including (but not limited to):

  • Hinduism;
  • Buddhism;
  • Confucianism;
  • Taoism;
  • Jainism; and
  • Sikhism.

The course seeks to understand historical and contemporary expressions of the world's religions through readings, films, current events, site visits, written reflections, and classroom discussions. Students consider why religions exist in the first place, and how, as global citizens, we might enter into a more effective dialogue with various traditions.

The Call to Serve

Open to V & VI Form students


This course examines the intellectual, moral, and spiritual mandates for community service as an integral part of human development. By participating in service-learning work, students develop a sense of their individual link to the larger world, and a sense of responsibility to care for it. Students explore concepts such as vocation, voluntarism, and the “ethic of care." The aim of the course is to find links between school coursework, opportunities to serve our world, and how students react to those opportunities. Weekly journals reflect on both classroom discussions and various service activities. Guest lecturers—advocates for the homeless and those with disabilities; blood bank executives; United Way representatives; Habitat for Humanity builders—join us in the classroom to share their insights and experiences of serving others.

Global Wisdom



This course is a cross-cultural exploration of diverse philosophical traditions into accounts of reality (being and existence). What do some of history’s greatest thinkers throughout the ages have to teach us about the nature of reality and the meaning of our existence? Is existence an event, flux, process? Or is it something static, stable, or unchanging? What is thinking? What are the capacities of our mind, and how should we use it? What is the relationship between consciousness and reality? Our journey into these questions begins with the work Plato’s Phaedo and the famous Hindu epic, The Bhagavad Gita. We then look to the French philosopher, Rene Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, followed by the Buddhist text, The Dhammapada. Readings may also include excerpts from Carl Jung, Gnostic literature, indigenous Peruvian thought, German philosophy, Alan Watts, and others. What do these wisdom teachers have to tell us about the universe and how we should live in it?

The Hero’s Journey



Since St. Andrew’s is a boarding school, you have already begun to start your own individual journey—or as Joseph Campbell would call it, “the hero’s journey,” just by making the decision to leave your families, friends, and home to come to the middle of Delaware in the pursuit of knowledge. Similar to the protagonist in many epics, religious texts, and myths, as part of your journey, you will wrestle with the ideas of free will, destiny, and fate as you start to develop your own philosophy based on your own personal experiences. Thus the hero’s journey serves as an appropriate metaphor for the individual journey that you must take in your life.

While, the hero will often receive gifts, supernatural aid, or the advice from a wise old hermit, in the end the hero will have to find the resources from within in order to overcome the obstacles standing in their path. In life, the monsters and the dragons you must encounter often represent the inner conflict between our irrational desires and the needs of the community. Only through slaying these inner dragons can one progress to the next stage of life and eventually achieve self-realization.

In this class you will also explore the universal patterns that have supported the hero’s journey; specifically, the archetypes, symbols, and guides that serve as a roadmap for human development and assist the individual’s integration into society. These patterns (archetypes) are found in the ancient myths of Hercules, King Arthur, Thor, and even in the modern day Disney movies, comics, and Harry Potter books. In short, these myths (stories) help us to understand who we are and what our place is in this world while continuing to inspire, comfort, and provide hope in a world that often feels in peril.

In-class readings to include excerpts from:

  • Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth;
  • The Red Book, Carl Jung;
  • Ramayana, an ancient Indian epic poem;
  • Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Idylls of the King (Arthurian Legend), Lord Tennyson;
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling; and
  • Anthem, Ayn Rand


  • Star Wars: A New Hope
  • Whale Rider
  • Disney's The Lion King

Religion and Violence



Throughout history, there has existed an uneasy relationship between religion and violence. In this course, students will critically examine the intersection of religion and violence, studying two central questions:

  • How is it that violent acts are committed and justified in the name of religion? What is, for example, the path from "blessed are the peacemakers" to the brutality of the Crusades?
  • How have religious movements actually sought to alleviate violent conflict? What role, for example, did religious traditions have in the Civil Rights Movement and the Indian Independence Movement in the 20th century?

Students will look both to historical and present-day examples, focusing on conflicts noted above as well as those located in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.