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Religious Studies

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 today’s 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.

Internship Program

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.

Career Outlook

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 life’s 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.