Religion and Philosophy | Capital University


Religion and Philosophy

  • In this section..

    • Majors: Religion • Philosophy • Youth Ministry and Christian Education • Worship Ministries

      In the Religion and Philosophy Department at Capital University, students and faculty together consider the “big questions” for which there are no easy answers.

      Both Religion and Philosophy offer theories and methods for tackling these questions in a way that brings scholarly rigor to bear on matters that are at the heart of what it means to be human, as individuals and as part of a community.

      The department offers a major and minor in Philosophy and three majors and minors in Religion (Religion, Youth Ministry and Christian Education, and Worship Ministry). While many of our Religion students have interest in ministry studies, an equally strong group of students pursue the academic study of religion more generally, developing interests in world religions, religion and literature, history, and theology. Our Religion faculty also administers the pre-seminary program at Capital, in which students from any major may work toward admission to seminary programs and employment in a wide range of professional ministry settings. Our Philosophy program is an important option for pre-law students, who will find that—nationally—Philosophy students are consistently among the highest scorers on the LSAT exam. Indeed, students in pre-law from all majors are encouraged to take at least two Philosophy courses: Introduction to Logic and Symbolic Logic.

      what you'll learn

      Full–time faculty members in religion hold doctoral degrees in a range of disciplines, including ancient languages and literature, theology, and world religions. Their specialties include biblical literature, feminist thought, indigenous religions, and postmodern thought.

      As a religion major or minor, you'll develop:

      • An understanding of the nature of religion, of the sacred, and of major religious traditions, including Christianity;
      • The ability to carry on disciplined, critical dialogue about varied understandings of religion and religious questions;
      • An understanding of how religion shapes and is shaped the social, historical, and cultural contexts of which it is a part;
      • The ability to think critically and to articulate and defend your own ideas; 
      • The ability to think creatively and to work both independently and as part of a community with common goals; and
      • The capacity to think critically about life and work in a way that honors your own abilities and needs and those of your community.


      Majors and minors in religion take courses in history, world religions, theology, philosophy, language, and literature. Those who choose one of the ministry tracks take additional specialized courses.

      The faculty members in philosophy at Capital represent a wide range of experience, backgrounds and points of view. Specialties within the faculty include applied ethics, classical Greek philosophy, philosophy of religion and the philosophy of science.

      As a philosophy major or minor, you'll explore foundational questions like:

      • What can we know?
      • What beliefs are reasonable?
      • What does it mean to be a happy, fulfilled person?
      • What is human nature?
      • Does life have a meaning?
      • What do we mean by freedom, and how do we realize it?

      You'll do this through historical studies in philosophy, logic, and the relation of philosophy to science, the arts, religion, health care and politics and other disciplines. You'll have opportunities to study contemporary problems in philosophy. And you'll be encouraged to study independently. 

      Explore both program and their course descriptions in our online course bulletin.

      where you'll go: career paths and placement

      Our religion graduates are well prepared for graduate school or seminary. Other students enter the job market immediately upon graduation. Our graduates are participating in ordained ministry nationally and internationally, and they're working in a wide variety of programs and occupations, demonstrating the value and flexibility of Capital’s religion program.

      Many employers seek out philosophy majors and minors because they are critical thinkers and careful communicators — skills in high demand for leadership positions. Philosophy graduates tend to combine a useful blend of imagination and critical thinking skills, which often make them creative entrepreneurs and agents of change in society.

      Capital's philosophy graduates choose any different career paths after they leave Capital, including law (did we mention we have a Law School?), public policy, government, technology, and the ministry. Others pursue advanced degrees in philosophy so they can teach.

    • Our professors bring out the best in you. We won't lie. They can be tough. But they're also your counselors, your mentors, and your biggest advocates. Meet a few below, or view our department directory.


    • Joy Schroeder, Ph.D.

      Professor of Religion


      Religion and Philosophy
      Renner Hall
      Room 343

      (614) 236-6437

      • Biography

        Holder of the Bergener Chair in Theology and Religion, which carries a joint appoint at Capital and Trinity Seminary, Dr. Joy Schroeder is a prolific scholar and lecturer working in areas of feminism in medieval thought and Old Testament studies. 

        She is a Lutheran (ELCA) pastor who regularly speaks in congregations and clergy continuing education events throughout the country. Her areas of research include the history of biblical interpretation and the history of women in the church. She is the author of Deborah’s Daughters: Gender Politics and Biblical Interpretation (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Dinah’s Lament: The Biblical Legacy of Sexual Violence in Christian Interpretation (Fortress, 2007). 

        Professor Schroeder was named the inaugural recipient of Capital University’s Faculty Scholar Award, which represents the third pillar of recognition that a faculty member has reached an advanced level of achievement and contribution to the University.

        Her 2007 book, Dinah’s Lament: The Biblical Legacy of Sexual Violence in Christian Interpretation, has been described by reviewers as “filling a unique role in the scholarship of biblical interpretation.” “Schroeder’s volume,” the reviewer writes, “stands alone in its consistent hermeneutical perspective rooted in women’s experience.” 

        Professor Schroeder has amassed a collection of scholarly articles, critical book reviews, and denominational publications that translate and interpret church history – and particularly the history of women – into important insights that inform both historical and contemporary understanding. Above all, Professor Schroeder challenges her students by setting the same high expectations in the classroom that she has realized with her own scholarship.

      • Teaches

        Religious Foundations and the Bible (General Education core class)
        Reformation & Enlightenment Church History
        Women Mystics
        Ministry in Congregations
        Christian Worship

      • Degrees

        Ph.D. in Theology (History of Christianity) from the University of Notre Dame
        Master of Divinity, Princeton Theological Seminary

    • David Belcastro, Ph.D.


      David Belcastro

      Religion and Philosophy
      Renner Hall


      • Biography

        Dr. David Belcastro joined the faculty at Capital University in 1982. He has served in faculty governance in various capacities and has led student trips to Turkey, India and a Cistercian Monastery in Kentucky.

        Dr. Belcastro is president of the International Thomas Merton Society and co-editor of The Merton Annual. He also is an ordained pastor and a certified Yoga teacher. He volunteers weekly in the Center of Hope at First English Church. Professor Belcastro will be on sabbatical during the 2015-2016 academic year, during which he will finish a manuscript on Thomas Merton and Albert Camus.

      • Teaches

        Introduction to Religious Studies
        Biblical Literature
        History of Christian Thought
        Yoga Philosophy and Practice
        Thomas Merton

      • Degrees

        Ph.D., University of St. Andrews (Scotland)
        Master of Divinity, Rochester Center for Theological Studies
        Bachelor of Arts, Phillips University

      • Publications

        Co-editor of The Merton Annual since 2007
        For past decades, annual publication of articles on Thomas Merton, Albert Camus and Czeslaw Miliosz

    • Sally Stamper, Ph.D.

      Assistant Professor of Religion

      Sally Stamper 600x600

      Religion and Philosophy
      Renner Hall
      Room 341

      (614) 236-6453

      • Biography

        Sally Stamper (PhD, University of Chicago) is a theologian and scholar of religion. She works at the intersection of theology and psychology, and her research thus far has considered questions related to human suffering and evil.

        With a subspecialty in religion and literature, Professor Stamper engages early childhood development and literature for young children as sources for theological reflection. She is the author of Horror and Its Aftermath: Reconsidering Theology and Human Experience (forthcoming from Fortress Press in 2016).

        Professor Stamper also has trained and practiced as a clinical social worker, specializing in mental health and child welfare, in clinic settings, private practice, and as a consultant. She has written numerous book reviews for professional journals and has presented nationally and internationally as both a scholar of religion and a clinician. She also lectures and presents to community and church groups and at religious and spiritual retreats. Professor Stamper completed her MSW at the Jane Addams College of Social Work (University of Illinois-Chicago) and her MA (in religion) and PhD (in theology) at the University of Chicago, where she was a junior fellow of the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion. Prior to coming to Capital University, she was a postdoctoral teaching fellow in the University Core at Seton Hall University.

        At Capital, Professor Stamper’s appointment is in contemporary Christian thought. She also teaches courses in religion and literature as well as in the General Education program.

      • Teaches

        Life Stories: Spiritual, Intellectual, and Personal Journeys
        Modern Christian Thought
        Introduction to Faith and Moral Development
        Religion and Literature
        Liberation Theology
        First Year Studies
        Religious Foundations and the Bible

      • Degrees

        PhD, University of Chicago
        MA, University of Chicago
        MSW, University of Illinois (Chicago)
        BA, Agnes Scott College

    • Craig Burgdoff, Ph.D.


      Craig Burgdoff 600x600

      Religion and Philosophy
      Renner Hall


      • Classes

        Religious Foundations & the Bible
        Introduction to Asian Religion
        Mythology Around the World
        Native American Religions
        Advanced Asian Religions

      • Biography

        Dr. Burgdoff’s teaching and scholarship is in World Religions. He regularly teaches introductory and advanced courses in Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese Religions and Japanese Religions. He teaches Native American Religions and Mythology from cultures around the world. He is trained in social scientific approaches to religion and his courses generally employ social scientific methodology. He has a longstanding interest in new religions and has frequently written and taught about new religious movements. Dr. Burgdoff is currently developing courses in Eastern Philosophy.

      • Degrees Earned

        B.A., St. John's College (Santa Fe)
        M.A. Leslie College
        Ph.D., Syracuse University