Jots and Tittles (vol. 2, no. 4)

The Newsletter of the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies

May 2019

The End of a Semester, the Beginning of New Possibilities


We hope you all had an easy start to the semester and are keeping your goals in mind. Remember that hard work allows for great things to unfold. 

Dr. Paul Thomas, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, is the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies chairperson. If you have questions about PHRE curriculum, the major and minor, or about the department, feel free to contact him at

The Good Fruits of PHRE

The photographer couldn't miss getting the Highlander and Dr. Thomas in a picture together. Two beards are better than one. #beardsandbros

"Taking philosophy and religious studies courses has helped prepare me for a career because they have helped me look at religion in a historical viewpoint and understand different cultures."
—Lindsey Hink, senior, PHRE Major, 


"There’s nothing quite like the moment when a student understands something for the first time."
—Mr. Ryan Lytton, Religious Studies Professor


To learn more about our degree visit our web page, or email

Whispers on the Wind

Special thank you to Dylan Bobbitt, Ursula Turner, Savannah Tyler, Milo Wilson, Bryan Jarrell, Daniel Dishon, and Rachael Calhoon for presenting at the World Views Conference. Your involvement reflects your dedication to academic success.

On April 6th, our annual World Views Conference attracted a room capacity audience who enjoyed the presentations of six student presenters. The diverse topics that were explored are a direct reflection of the diversity among student interests which we seek to encourage and nurture.   

We would like to congratulate our seniors, Lindsey Hink, Daniel Dishon, Gregg Capps, Ryan Shimp, Melanie Lucas, Joshua Outen, Hannah Secrist, Jacqueline Sperazza and Dylan Bobbitt on graduating this May. We have enjoyed having you in our classes and on this campus. Well done! 

On April 19th, Dr. Paul Thomas gave a presentation titled "Fairy Tale Arks: The Fake Ark Delugion" at the Popular Culture Association annual meeting in Washington D.C. 

Looking for a summer opportunity in philosophy?

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PIKSI (Philosophy in an Inclusive Key) runs a philosophy summer institute for under-represented students. Check it out HERE.

Student Spotlight

Lindsey Hink


What attracted you to the philosophy and religious studies major?
I was attracted to the philosophy and religious studies major because I have always been interested in learning about different cultures and world religions.

How has taking philosophy and religious studies courses benefited you?
Taking philosophy and religious studies courses has helped prepare me for a career because they have helped me look at religion in a historical viewpoint and understand different cultures.

Which classes have been among your favorites?
My favorite class I’ve taken is monsters and culture with Dr. Thomas.

What do you plan to do after college?
I see myself going to a graduate school to get a Master’s degree in occupational therapy. 

Why should students consider a major in philosophy and religious studies?
Students should consider adding major or minor in philosophy and religious studies because learning about different world religions is so important in receiving a well rounded education. Studying this subject has many benefits, but I think the most important one is gaining a wider perspective of culture. 

Faculty Spotlight on Teaching

Mr. Ryan Lytton


What Mr. Lytton's students like most about him is that he is kind and accommodating to their needs. They also enjoy his ability to connect to student's academic interests in the classroom. Mr. Lytton currently teaches Survey of World Religions (RELN  112) and Sacred Texts of the West (RELN 203). 

What initially attracted you to Radford University?
I love the diversity of thought, and the collegiality among the scholars in my department. 

What inspires you as a teacher?
There’s nothing quite like the moment when a student understands something for the first time. 

What do you find most challenging about the classroom?
It’s challenging to get up in front of a group of people and try to be an expert on anything (not to mention something as expansive as the religions of the world). I suppose it could be terrifying, but I find that challenge thrilling. Sometimes it means that I need to learn from them. Just the other day a student corrected me on some Arabic in my lecture on Islam. How cool is that?
 What advice for doing well in the classroom would you offer students?
Take notes by hand and try to distill the most important information on the fly. This process of simultaneous analysis and synthesis will make you a better thinker. Also, buying cheese sticks from Papa John’s for your professor never hurt.

Why do you think education in religious studies is important?
There are so many reasons, but the one I try to stress in my classes most frequently is that it makes you a better citizen of the world. No matter what you believe, you will meet people from a variety of religious backgrounds. Studying other perspectives than your own helps you to interact respectfully with others in the midst of difference.

Declare a Major with Us!

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World turbulence and discord got you down? Looking for some bright spots in seemingly gloomy times? Consider a major or minor in philosophy and religious studies. In our classes you can explore some of the most vexing problems faced by society today and explore ways in which other cultures have found meaning in the face of challenging problems. New course substitutions make majoring in philosophy and religious studies easier than ever and our 30 credit major makes us one of the easiest double majors! Stop by CHBS 4209 for more information or email

Welcoming Our Newest Faculty Member: Dr. Eric Rothgery


Dr. Eric Rothgery has more than 20 years experience teaching world religions. He specializes in religions of India (Hinduism and Islam, especially), although he also researches death, near death, and mysticism, as well as Lutheran approaches to world religions. He has also spent several years travelling through Asia and South America working on international university partnerships. He is currently working on book manuscript that explores Hindu participation in Islamic healing rituals in ancient Sufi tombs in Hyderabad, India, as well as a project that explores death, near-death, and mysticism in world religions. He teaches in ways that imagine religious traditions as living, dynamic ways of life for generations of people and communities. He lives in Roanoke, Virginia, with his three sons. He enjoys camping, working with his hands—he owns his own remodeling business—and restoring his classic 1968 Chevelle muscle car.

A note from the Editor, Hannah Secrist


I felt it was an extremely beneficial experience to intern with the PHRE dept. this spring. I will miss the positive energy that is on this campus as I am to be graduating this May. If you are interested in being a candidate for filling this position in the Fall, please contact Dr. Thomas at, or myself at with any questions.