"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

Registration Form

Keynote Speakers & Panelists

Dr. Ellen L. Idler, Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health
Dr. John Blevins, Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health

Other Speakers include:

Rev. Dr. Gary Gunderson, Professor of Faith and the Health of the Public
Dr. Jeremy Moseley, Director, Community Engagement, Faith and Health
Naeema Muhammad, Co-Director, NC Environmental Justice Network
Josie Walker, Regional Coordinator, Partners in Health and Wholeness
Dr. Annie Hardison-Moody, NC State, Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences
Christine Pernell, Program Director for Partners in Health and Wholeness

The goal of the conference on Religion and Public Health is to 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. The conference calls for the need to recognize the intersection of religion and social issues that influence public health such as gender based violence, health and healing, reproductive health, food security etc. 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. Scholars, researchers, academics, students with interest health disparities are invited to present their research, ideas. Panels and poster sessions are welcome. 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 in Jenkins Fine Art Center Auditorium room 1220.

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
  • Disability
  • Shamanism and Healing

Proposal/Abstract Submission

Submit your 150 word abstract to by March 15, 2018.  To register for the conference, visit and download the conference flyer. Registration is $15 for students and  $30 for non-students (registration goes towards meals). Select papers will be published in an edited volume after peer review process.


Connect with Us

Facebook Twitter


For more information, please contact the Program Director:

Dr. Mary Nyangweso
(252) 737-2422