It is often said that for any University to be real it must rest on three disciplines: Theology, Medicine and Law. Historically the three disciplines have together been referred to as the learned professions. The theologian, for example, imparts knowledge from the pulpit, the medical doctor imparts knowledge by saving people’s lives and the lawyer displays knowledge in the courts of law.
In the 2002/2003 academic year, the late Professor Kwesi Andam became the Vice Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. In Professor Andam’s estimation therefore KNUST at the time was not a real University because it then had only a Medical School in addition to Arts, Sciences and Engineering but no Theology department. Professor Andam by this vision went on to mute the idea of starting an Executive Masters in Mission and Management to equip Church Administrators with management skills. Unfortunately, this initiative collapsed for three reasons:
- The fees charged for the programme were too high
- The inclusion of the word “Executive” in the programme made the church skeptical about its products
- Churches and individuals could not afford the high fees.
A committee set up later to review the programme suggested an alternative programme. The Committee, comprising Rev. Dr. Kofi Effa Ababio as chairman and Mgr Dr. John Opoku Agyemang, Rev. Dr. Esuamah Yeboah and others, proposed the establishment of a Department of Religious Studies. This was to distinguish it from the Department for the Study of Religions in University of Ghana and the Department of Religion and Human Values of the University of Cape Coast. The committee felt Theology and Divinity were narrow and could not adequately address the challenges facing society today. The Department of Religious Studies in the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology was therefore established to serve the Northern sector of the country comprising the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and West regions of Ghana. In August 2005, the first batch of Twenty-three (23) students were admitted to commence their four-year Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Religious Studies programme.
Headed from 2006 to 2008 by Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante the Department grew so rapidly that in two years (August 2008) a Master of Philosophy (M. Phil) programme was started with eleven (11) students. With an initial academic staff of just three full-time and one part-time in 2006, the Department now has sixteen (17) full-time and four (5) part-time lecturers; made up of one Four (4) Associate Professors, eleven (10) Senior Lecturers, seven (8) Lecturers.
The Department’s well organised and attended 1st National Religion and Science Conference held in 2008 was an epoch breaking feat. This was followed in 2012 by yet another successful conference on Religion and Politics. In 2013, the Department went further to host the West African Association of Theological Institutions’ (WAATI) 40th Anniversary Celebrations and Conference for over 80 scholars drawn from Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Kenya and the USA. In September, 2018, the Department also successfully held a conference on Religion and Inter-Religious Dialogue.
The Department won the Royal Bank-CASS Research and Publication Awards organised by the College of Art and Social Sciences (now College of Humanities and Social Sciences) in the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 Academic Years.
The undergraduate and post graduate programmes in religious studies have been designed to achieve the following goals:
- To equip students with requisite skills to identify problems of society and address them from the perspective of religion
- To equip students to engage in serious research into the religions phenomenon and impact on society
- To train candidates to take up teaching and religious research in the universities
- To provide an environment for a high academic reflection on religion, society and development.
To Advance knowledge in Religions
- To provide quality education and training, promote scholarship, service and inculcate moral and religious values in students to meet the challenges of a dynamic society.