CAS in Philosophy, Theology and Christianity
Did you know that Christianity and philosophy have for centuries enjoyed a close and mutually enriching relationship? Are you interested in studying this relationship and bringing it to bear on contemporary areas of inquiry?
The Certificate for Advanced Studies (CAS) in Philosophy, Theology, and Christianity offers an in-depth survey of Christianity’s variegated connections with philosophy, with a focus on both historical as well as contemporary interactions. The program comprises asynchronous online courses as well as an in-person block seminar at the University of Lucerne, together with a final examination and thesis project. The language of instruction is English; students also have the option to submit assignments in German.
Upon completing this certificate, students will have achieved the following:
- Heightened knowledge of the philosophical and theological dimensions of Christianity as a religion.
- The ability to reflect critically upon problems in the history of Christian philosophy.
- Competence in reading and independently interpreting philosophical texts from the medieval, modern, and contemporary Christian traditions.
- An article-length piece of academic writing on a topic in Christian philosophy.
- The ability to argue in a logical and rhetorically accomplished fashion.
The course of study is intended to supplement basic postsecondary degrees. It is aimed at philosophers, theologians, and specialists in the study of (any) religion, as well as professionals who hold a postsecondary degree and who wish, in view of the increasing relevance of religion(s) in today’s society, to gain a deeper understanding of the history of philosophy and theology and their relationship with Christianity.
Duration and Scope
The course of study runs one semester. Students can, following consultation with the program director, start the program in either the Fall or the Spring semester.
The scope of the CAS consists of 15 ECTS (375 to 450 hours of study). 12 ECTS are obtained by attending the online lectures and submitting the associated assignments. The remaining 3 ECTS are obtained by participating in the final examination and the block seminar, and by completing the final thesis project.
Anyone who holds a Bachelor’s degree in the subject area of philosophy, theology, or religious studies can be admitted to the program. Those who hold Bachelor’s degrees in other fields can also be admitted, provided they have obtained at least 60 ECTS in one of the aforementioned subjects.
Interested persons without a Bachelor's degree can be admitted "sur dossier"—that is, on a case by case basis—if they have equivalent qualifications. Please note, however, that submitting an application does not entitle the applicant to admission.
«The assumption that we live in a secularized world is false. The world today, with some exceptions, is as furiously religious as it ever was, and in some places more so than ever.» (Peter Berger)
Interest in religion has arisen sharply in recent decades: according to the data of the Pew Research Center, the percentage of non-believers is set to fall from 16 % to 12.5% by 2060. Nevertheless, academic programs in philosophy are often designed in an agnostic way—as if the question of God’s existence did not matter. Such programs neglect the growing interest in religion at a global level.
Furthermore, in many such programs, philosophy is studied exclusively in a topical way, examining particular questions and problems while neglecting the history of these problems and of philosophy more broadly. Finally, the study of the millennia-long history of dialogue between philosophy and religions—which took place within, e.g., among the ancient Greeks, and within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—is not emphasized by any postsecondary program in philosophy, despite such study’s foundational nature for ongoing dialogue between cultures and faiths in an increasingly globalized world.
The CAS Philosophy, Theology and Christianity fills some of these gaps. The course of study it offers is centred on the mutual relationship between Christianity and philosophy from both a historical and a theoretical point of view.
The program is designed to encompass the best aspects of two formats for postsecondary education, ensuring the pedigree of a Swiss education together with the flexibility of online study. The benefits of online study in an increasingly globalized and industrialized world are clear:
- International Faculty: our course instructors are all leading experts in their given area of philosophy and/or religious thought and include some of the world’s most well-respected scholars working in these fields.
- Work-life balance: No commute and a flexible schedule allow for more time for family, friends, career, and personal development without compromising the quality of study.
- Enhanced communication: Far from limiting interpersonal interaction, a centralized online platform allows students to contribute and to be heard more clearly when sharing ideas and concerns, without getting lost in the crowd.
We have also taken several additional measures to ensure that students remain connected with each other and form a genuine community:
- Each year, students set up a group chat and/or recurring video meets. These methods enable them to discuss their classes and research with each other, and are an indispensable part of establishing camaraderie and mutual support among the students.
- Students are encouraged to keep in regular contact with the tutors, who are available to answer even minor or mundane questions via email, chat, or video call. The tutors may also coordinate events with the students, such as general video calls or study sessions.
- In a more official capacity, discussion forums related specifically to course readings will be made available on the program platform, and moderated by the tutors.
- All students take part in a block seminar at the University of Lucerne, which runs over two days (Friday and Saturday).
- Furthermore, students have the opportunity to take part in an annual week-long research conference in Lucerne (Switzerland) or in Palermo (Italy), usually in July or in September. Participating students attend in-person lectures by leading scholars, and enjoy various opportunities for discussion and conviviality as well as for exploring the beauty and history of the two cities. Participation is encouraged, but not mandatory, and students have the option of attending online.
The CAS in Philosophy, Theology, and Christianity is comprised of three modules (self-study online courses) on the history of Christian philosophy; a two-day block seminar; and a final examination. The program concludes with a final thesis project. It is also possible, following consultation with the program director, to attend other courses within the Faculty of Theology which fall outside the CAS’s course of study.
Students can begin the program in either the Fall or the Spring semester. Below is a detailed breakdown of all program components:
- Online courses:
- History of Christian Philosophy I (Middle Ages) - Prof. Giovanni Ventimiglia (Lucerne) and Prof. Pasquale Porro (Turin) 4,5 ECTS
- History of Christian Philosophy II (Modernity) – Prof. Marco Lamanna (Lucerne) and Paul Richard Blum (Loyola University, Maryland) 4,5 ECTS
- History of Christian Philosophy III (Contemporary) – Prof. Winfried Löffler (Innsbruck) 3 ECTS
- Philosophy of Religion: Epistemology of Religion - Prof. Linda Zagzebski (Oklahoma) 3 ECTS
- Philosophy of Religion III: God, Freedom and Evil – Prof. Ryan Mullins (Lucerne) 3 ECTS
- Block seminar: Jewish, Christian and Islamic Philosophy
- Final examination and thesis project
The in-person block seminar (1 ECTS) is compulsory as well as the evaluation event (1 ECTS) and the CAS thesis (1 ECTS). The other 12 ECTS are chosen by the student from the courses listed above.
The block seminar, which runs over two days, gives students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the various topics treated in the online courses. To obtain the associated 1 ECTS, students are required to be physically present for both days on which the block seminar is held.
The block seminar in FS 2024
«The God of theologians and the God of philosophers in Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions» (Prof. Dr Giovanni Ventimiglia)
The block course in FS 2024 will take place on 24 May (14:15 -17:00) and 25 May (9:15 - 17:00, joint lunch 12:30-14:00).
The block seminar in HS 2024
«The Problem of God and Time in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Philosophy» (Prof. Dr Ryan Mullins)
The block course in HS 2024 will take place on 13 December (14:15 -17:00) and 14 December (9:15 - 17:00, joint lunch 12:30-14:00).
For the two-day block seminar with the scope of 1 ECTS, 100% attendance is compulsory.
For the thesis project, students discuss an academically relevant question in the context of an article-length piece of written work, with a view to the broader relationship between philosophy and Christianity. It must be 15,000 to 20,000 characters (including spaces) and fulfill all the requirements for scholarly work.
The thesis must be submitted to the program director six months (at the latest) after concluding the course of study. The completed thesis, together with attendance of the final examination, is worth 2 ECTS.
Once the online courses and block seminar (13 ECTS) are concluded and the thesis project (2 ECTS) has received a passing grade—for a total of 15 ECTS—the University of Lucerne will confer the Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Philosophy, Theology, and Christianity on the program participant.
Tuition fees for the entire program come to CHF 5000 (ca. EUR 5100 / USD 5500), in addition to a one-time registration fee of CHF 100. This amount includes the costs for all individual courses as well as the certificate fee.Costs for meals as well as overnight accommodation in Lucerne during the block seminar must be covered by the student.
Program Director CAS
Prof. Dr. Giovanni Ventimiglia
Academic direction of the program falls within the purview of the Professor for Philosophy in the Faculty of Theology of the University of Lucerne.
Study Program Director
Dr. Almedina Fakovic
almedina.fakovic @ unilu.ch
The directors are available to meet with anyone interested via zoom.
To schedule an appointment, please write to: email@example.com
To apply, you will need the following:
- a CV in tabular / bullet-point form
- a statement of motivation
- a copy of the relevant postsecondary degree or, if applicable, proof of equivalent qualification in accordance with CAS regulation (§ 6.2)
For questions or further information, please contact us by email: info-casphilter@ unilu.ch
The directors (Prof. Giovanni Ventimiglia and Dr. Almedina Fakovic) are available to meet with anyone interested via zoom. To schedule an appointment, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org