What is Religious Studies?

Religious Studies

All the religious traditions teach about ultimate values and their relationship to our worldly lives.  How religious thinkers — and the scholars who study them — develop their ideas about human rights, law, and gender relations from primary sources, and how this changes over time, is an essential part of the academic study of religion.  Some of the traditions are the oldest extant bodies of thought.  The religions of the world are an ancient and living source for values.  The courses in religious studies focus on the study of sources, history, nature, and the relevance of religion.

Distinctions in Religious Studies

  • A department that doesn’t adhere to a particular faith tradition or teach from a theologically determined point of view.  Students are encouraged to study a wide variety of religious traditions and forms of expression.
  • Faculty members are actively engaged in scholarship in their field but also deeply committed to teaching and advising undergraduate students.
  • The opportunity to develop a Senior Project that explores some aspect of human religious belief and experience in a variety of formats.
  • Opportunities for cross-disciplinary study, either within the religious studies major or with a double major in religious studies and a field such as psychology, English, history, international studies, political science, or environmental studies.
  • A program distinctive in its emphasis on understanding both the history and nature of religious communities, as well as ritual and written forms of expression.

Key benefits of a Religious Studies major:

  • Religious Studies investigates the most basic components of human society and culture.  The key to understanding the fundamental motivations for the behavior of human groups lies in the knowledge of religious beliefs and practices.
  • As jobs and world cultures become increasingly diverse, knowledge about other religions and cultures enables students to communicate effectively on the basis of knowledge rather than stereotypes.  Many U.S. government position value knowledge of Islam and Islamic cultures highly.
  • Our students have the opportunity to work in close consultation with faculty members, both in courses and in the development of individual research or the Senior Project.
  • Students receive excellent preparation for graduate study, as well as an excellent focus for a liberal arts program with immediate employment after graduation in mind.

Other opportunities in Religious Studies:

  • The Winslow Ecumenical Lecture series brings to campus speakers representing a variety of Christian traditions.
  • The Towns Family Lecture (see tab at left) brings speakers to campus to give campus-wide lectures and meet with classes to discuss a problem of practical ethics from one of the Abrahamic traditions:  Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.
  • The department offers a continuing series of lectures on topics related to the Islamic world.
  • Some professors in the department have joint research opportunities for students during the school year.

Web links:

Prosblogion: https://prosblogion.ektopos.com/

And further horizons: a list of blogs: https://www.blogmetrics.org/religion

The Case for Religious Studies https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2016/08/22/understand-todays-world-more-students-should-study-religion-essay