"If I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative religion, because that's how integrated it is in everything that we are working on and deciding and thinking about in life today." -- United States Secretary of State John F. Kerry

Religion at East Carolina University is studied in a nonsectarian, interdisciplinary fashion, providing students with an understanding of religion as an historical and cultural phenomenon. Our program neither excludes nor promotes any religious tradition or viewpoint. In addition to courses on specific religions, students take courses in a variety of disciplines that consider religious themes and approaches, including anthropology, archaeology, art, history, literature, philosophy, psychology and sociology.

Faculty Spotlight

Joseph Hellweg

Dr. Joseph Hellweg

We welcome Dr. Hellweg to East Carolina University. Dr. Joseph Hellweg is the 2017-2018 David Julian and Virginia Suther Whichard Distinguished Professor. Hellweg brings to the Religious Studies Program expertise in the intersection of religion, security studies, politics, and public health. His research interests include ritual, Islam, performance, and social movements in West Africa. This fall he is teaching an advanced-undergraduate and graduate seminar, “Security, Ritual, and Politics: Portrayals of Violent Actors in Contemporary Africa.” Next spring he will teach a second seminar, “Religion and Public Health in the Black Atlantic: The Culture and Politics of Healing in Africa, the Caribbean, and the US.” His publications include Hunting the Ethical State: the Benkadi Movement of Côte d’lvoire (2011); Anthropologie les premier pas (First Steps in Anthropology); and many journal articles. He is currently writing a book on the funeral songs of dozo hunters in Côte d’lvoire and a series of articles on the N’ko alphabet invented in 1949 in Côte d’lvoire for the purpose of writing Mande Languages. Learn more about Dr. Hellweg by going to the Florida State University Department of Religion webpage.

Student Spotlight

Katie Chandler

Katie Chandler

Congratulations to Katie Chandler for being nominated as the 2017/2018 student spotlight! Katie looks forward to graduating in May with a quadruple major in History, Philosophy, Great Books and Religious Studies. Her passion in religious studies began with the study abroad program to India with Dr. Maher. It is “where my passion lies,” she says. Studying religion has allowed me to see the similarities in people that on the surface seem vastly different. After graduating, she plans on pursuing graduate school in religious studies, hopefully at University of California, Santa Barbara. Among her accomplishments are the Chancellor's List 2017; 2017 co-chair of the Dean's Student leadership council; Philosophy and Religious Studies dept. representative; the 2017 Best Student Philosophy Paper award winner; co-authored of an article on Buddhist Holy Sites (in publication) summer 2016. Read more on Katie here

Religious Studies Conference/Symposium

Call for Papers
Theme: Religion and Public Health: Bridging Corporation
April 5-7, 2018
East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA
Conference Flyer

Registration Form

Keynote Speakers & Panelists
Dr. Ellen L. Idler (Emory University)
Dr. John Blevins (Emory University)
Dr. Ronny Bell (ECU Brody School of Medicine)
Dr. Michael R. Van Scott - ECU - Vice Chancellor Interim, Chief Research Officer

The theme of the next Conference / Symposium is Religion and Public Health. We will explore the intersection between Religion and social issues in our society especially as these relate to public health and general social welfare of children, women and men. As some turn to religion for recourse, they confront certain policy issues. The intersection of religion and social issues that influences public health such as gender based violence, health and healing, reproductive health are just a few of the conference/ symposium concern. Scholars, researchers, academics, students with interest in the intersection of health disparities are invited to present their research, ideas. In highlighting social dynamics that affect social public health, the conference/ symposium seeks to draw attention to religion, the humanities, social science and public health. Panels and participants will discuss, rethink, review, and debate the following themes. Panels, and poster sessions are welcome. The conference/ symposium is organized and hosted by the Religious Studies Program, and affiliate programs at East Carolina University. The conference will be held on April 5-7, 2018 at East Carolina University, Greenville NC, 27858.

Suggested Subthemes:

  • Religion/Culture & Public Health
  • Gender Based Violence
  • Domestic Violence
  • Reproductive Health
  • Human Trafficking
  • Sexual Assault on College Campuses
  • Mythology and Health
  • Health Policies
  • Health & Human Rights
  • The Pulpit and Moral authority
  • LGBT
  • Mental Health
  • Human Enhancement
  • Disability
  • Shamanism and Healing

Proposal/Abstract Submission

Submit your abstract to the convening committee by March 15, 2018 to Abstracts should not exceed 250 words, Single spaced and in APA referencing style. Select papers presented at the conference/ Symposium will be published in edited volume after peer review process. Participants are asked to pay $30 towards registration. Students will pay $15 (goes towards meals)

Abstract submission - March 15, 2018
Submit your abstracts to: or to:
Conference Conveners
Religious Studies Conference/Symposium, Religious Studies Program
East Carolina University
Fifth Street, Brewster Building - A327
Greenville, NC 27858-4353

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For more information, please contact the Program Director:

Dr. Mary Nyangweso
(252) 737-2422