The Department of Religious Studies, as an integral part of the humanities,
educates students in the scholarly interpretation of religion. Through
its assessment of the religious experiences, stories, symbols, rituals,
doctrines, values, and institutions of human beings in different times
and places, the academic study of religions makes an indispensable contribution
to historical and modern cultural literacy.
Religious Studies Major and Minor
Religious Studies is interdisciplinary by nature. Courses in the department
approach the study of religion from the perspectives of history, textual
studies of sacred writings, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and other
disciplines. In addition to providing an understanding of the development
of the major religious traditions of the world, these approaches also equip
students to explore the complex relationship of religion to other aspects
of culture. Religious Studies probes the role of religion in ethics and
law, psychology, gender constructs, literature, the visual arts, and a
variety of contemporary social and political issues.
The cross-cultural and historical study of religions is also an integral
part of education for citizenship in a pluralistic society. Respect for
other religious groups (or those who espouse no religious belief) is difficult
to sustain without significant knowledge of the histories, beliefs, and
customs of diverse peoples and religious traditions of the world.
Both the Religious Studies major and minor programs are structured to allow
the student to select courses that introduce in breadth, inform in depth,
and complement personal interests and fundamental concerns about the meaning
of life and death in human cultures.
The Center for Applied and Professional Ethics (CAPE)
CAPE provides the university and professional communities with resources
for the study of morality and applied social and professional ethics. CAPE
also provides public forums where important and controversial issues can
be discussed and debated.
The Religion and Public Education Resource Center (RPERC)
The purpose of the Center is to foster greater understanding of the distinction
between the practice of religion and the academic study of religion, and
to encourage the teaching about religion in the public schools consistent
with Constitutional principles. The Center is non-partisan. Consult the
chair of Religious Studies for further information.
Minor in Ethics
Most professional organizations recognize the importance of training in
ethics to professional practice in todays diverse and complex world.
Honors in Religious Studies
Outstanding majors are invited to pursue honors in Religious Studies. Consult
the religious studies adviser for details.
Religious Studies offers a variety of exciting opportunities for learning
beyond the classroom. These internships offer a first-hand view of the
role of religion in community life, and provide valuable career development
experience. Consult the religious studies adviser for details.
As a discipline within the humanities, Religious Studies prepares both
majors and minors for all careers that require critical thinking, analytical
skills, and the ability to reflect on questions of lifes meaning and value
in a pluralistic context. The study of religion is excellent pre-professional
preparation for such fields as law, teaching, counseling, social work,
journalism, political science, public administration, anthropology, psychology,
sociology, history, museum work, philosophy, and English, among others.
While many majors go on to graduate work in religious studies or related
fields, others find themselves prepared for work in public service, international
affairs, and not-for-profit endeavors.