Overview

Courses in the Department of Religious Studies enable students to understand the complex nature and role of religion in human societies. In addition to building basic fluency in a range of religious traditions and communities, students will develop an ability to answer the following kinds of questions: How do people conceive of religion? How does religion orient meaning-making about the world and the transcendent? How does religion structure and shape communities? How does religion interact with material, social, economic, and political conditions? How is religion expressed within and across time and place and how does it travel?

Courses familiarize students with the variety of critical approaches scholars employ when studying religion, including literary studies, history, anthropology, sociology, gender studies, etc. Students discern the advantages and limitations of each approach and learn to identify the most beneficial approach (or combination of approaches) when studying different topics or issues.  

By cultivating complex and nuanced perceptions of religion and by cultivating a range of methodological and theoretical skills, students are primed to conduct in-depth independent research—culminating in the Senior Comps project—and students become informed, critical individuals who are able to contribute to constructive public discourse about religion.

Majors and minors in the department develop critical habits of mind and a strong set of transferable skills that prepare them for a range of post-graduate options. Recent graduates have received prestigious fellowships (such as the Fulbright), have attended graduate school in a range of fields, and have pursued a variety of professions, including law, medicine, business, social services, government, and religious vocations.