BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEPARTMENT
Originally called the Crowther College of Theology, the Department came into existence with the University in 1960, and, in keeping with the philosophy of the University, remains attached to the Faculty of the Social Sciences. This is in itself a notable distinction and the Department has emphasized the application of religious truth to the environment and its place in Nigerian society.
Its philosophy is one with that of the University: to restore the dignity of man. It is concerned with religious aspect of man in society, especially the black man in third world. Religion is studied in its three areas of expression in Nigeria: Judeo-Christian, African and Islamic.
It started with offering a B.A degree with emphasis in any two of the three stress areas. After the civil war it continued offering an initial degree (B.A) and later undergraduate diploma in Religious Studies and Postgraduate degree at Master’s and Doctorate levels with emphasis on Christian Religious Studies. It became one of the service units in offering courses for regular and sandwich B.Ed. degree programmes in Education/ Religion. However, in 2005, the Diploma Programme was scrapped off the undertakings of the Department.
The Department has developed considerably over the years in terms of variety and levels of courses and programmes being offered. Some theological institutions are affiliated to the department namely, Trinity College, Umuahia, St. Paul’s College Awka; Wesley International Theological Seminary Lagos, and Spiritan Theological Seminary, Attakwu. The quality of teaching staff recruited has also considerably improved to meet the growth of the department, but the number of teaching staff needs improvement. The Department also offers Combined Honours degree in the following combinations; Religion and Cultural Studies/ Archaeology and Tourism, Religion and Cultural Studies/ English & Literary Studies, Religion and Cultural Studies/ History & International Relations, Religion and Cultural Studies/ Public Administration & Local Government, Religion and Cultural Studies/ Social Work, Religion and Cultural Studies/ Sociology & Anthropology.
Religion and Cultural Studies is a field of study integrating Judeo-Christianity & African Traditional Religion. In keeping with the philosophy of the University of Nigeria, the programme emphasizes the application of religious truth to the cultural environment of Africa. Students are exposed to the basic theological positions of Islam and other world religions with emphasis on Christianity and this enables man to understand his environment and hence able to master his destiny.
The general objectives of the programme are to provide students with adequate knowledge, attitudes, values and skills generic to religion and cultural studies. Specifically the programme is drawn to provide students with basic methods of:
- Interpreting the Bible and Christian tradition from an African perspective;
- Explaining ethical relationship in a multi-religious society like Nigeria;
- Delineating impartial approach towards the handling of religious concepts;
- Resolving conflict from religious and Afro-cultural standpoints;
- Handling problems and challenges of religious belief in a science–oriented environment;
- Explaining the resilience and challenges of African Traditional Religious and Cultural belief in a Christian-dominated environment.
Religion and Cultural Studies Programme harnesses appropriate knowledge to incorporating students penchant and interest in the quality as well as cordial human relationship in a multi-religious and morally decadent society. It acquaints students with core contents of Christianity, African Traditional Religion and cultural practices, the basic content of Islam and Eastern Religions. The programme lasts for 3-4 years depending on entry qualification. The Programme is carefully structured to reflect adequately those required areas of knowledge, strengthening the rudiments of Judeo-Christianity and African Traditional Religion. Students are expected to learn the dynamics of religion in a multi-religio-cultural environment as Nigeria. Basic ethical demands in Afro-cultural environment are stressed. In the final year the programme is designed to apply Christian and African Traditional Religious beliefs to conflict resolution. The problems of Early Christianity and the resilience of African Cultural practices are highlighted.