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College of Humanities & Fine Arts

BA in Religious Studies

Overview

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.

Mission

The Religious Studies Department at California State University, Chico exists to (1) educate students in the scholarly interpretation of religion; (2) cultivate understanding of and respect for religious diversity (and non-religious perspectives) as an integral part of education for citizenship in a pluralistic society and world; (3) advance the discipline of religious studies through a commitment to scholarly inquiry, research, and discussion; and (4) promote informed public dialogue about religion, including its roles in political, social, and cultural conflicts.

Goals & Objectives

Graduates of the CSU, Chico Department of Religious Studies will:

  • Possess essential knowledge of the historical emergence, cultural contexts, scriptural and oral traditions, teachings, practices, and contemporary expressions of the world’s major religious traditions.
  • Comprehend the component forms of religious life, including ritual, myth, doctrine, philosophy, ethics, and material culture.
  • Understand how religion informs and is informed by other dimensions of human experience and knowledge, such as gender, ethnicity, social organization, politics, economics, and science; and how religions are used both to support and to critique social structures and institutions.
  • Achieve competence in the interdisciplinary, comparative approach to the study of religion, which employs the tools and perspectives of such disciplines as anthropology, sociology, philosophy, theology, ethics, history, psychology, and literary theory.
  • Acquire the skills of critical reading, listening, and reasoning that foster conversation and enrich civil and academic discourse about religion.
  • Develop the ability to communicate effectively in speech and writing in a variety of formats.
  • Master the research skills and methods appropriate to the contemporary study of religion, including library and Internet research.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students can define and identify the history, beliefs, and practices of major world religious traditions.  
  2. Students understand major critical approaches to the study of religion and can explain how component elements of religion (myth, ritual, scripture, etc.) function in diverse contexts.
  3. Students can analyze how religion interacts with other cultural systems (economics, law, public policy, international relations, family structures, arts, medicine, science, etc.).
  4. Students can engage in and facilitate civil dialogue regarding religious and secular viewpoints and values. 
  5. Students can make clear, well organized, and substantive written presentations.
  6. Students can produce a project that demonstrates facility with traditional and electronic religious studies resources and the usage of appropriate scholarly style and citation formats.